Civic Architecture and Civil Duty
Happy Independence Day to everyone! As we approach the Fourth of July holiday, it is not unusual to consider our place in our society at large. As Americans, we benefit from the institutions that have come to symbolize our government and social systems. But how are we obligated to those systems besides paying the taxes that support them? Good stewardship of our public institutions is a part that each American can play. Stewardship ranges from picking up litter on the street-side to exercising our right as citizens to vote for or against the funding and execution of public projects. Our design team at ARC Architecture enjoys these obligations as citizens, but we also consider civic stewardship as a role that should drive design decisions. The demands of a community and the projects that serve them naturally help determine the role and capacity of a project. The public always plays a role, whether directly through focus groups, public forum feedback and polling, or indirectly, through publicly participated accumulation of data sets. This information is integral to the utility and meaningful design of our public projects. Often, before the public sees a design proposition to consider, our civic leadership and the designers working with them have considered multiple versions of a project that are eventually distilled to a final proposition through the rigorous process of critical review. The time invested in this preliminary process is a part of our civic duty to a project to ensure that the community is well served.
Currently, ARC Architecture is in the process of completing a county courthouse renovation and new county jail for Cimarron County. Joe D. Hall General Contractors, LLC has served as the Construction Manager. Cimarron County is located at the western end of the Oklahoma panhandle. As of the 2010 federal census, the county has a population of 2,475 making it the least populated county in the state. The area is supported by an agricultural economy with a tax base relative to its population. The decision for the county voters to fund the current courthouse and jail project wasn’t a matter of “if,” it was a matter of “how.”
The community is proud of the courthouse that sits in the center square of Boise City. Rightfully, public concern was how to best conservatively improve a courthouse in need of updating and a jail that no longer met health and building code compliance. While the CM has moved the project construction along at a very respectable pace, it should be recognized that prior to a successful bond election, our design team worked with the county commissioners for over two years to develop a plan that met the complexity and capital constraints of the county.
While two years can be considered toward the longer end of great bond planning, ensuring that we are meeting the needs and expectations of the communities within Cimarron County has been paramount. This is an example of how our design team allows our civic duty go beyond our responsibilities as private citizens to meet the obligations we have as civic stewards with the projects that the public entrusts to us.