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Community joins in planning new NCI center

EAST ALDINE – Over 100 members of the community, plus educators, architects and land planners, and staff of the Neighborhood Centers, Inc. were present last Thursday night at Hambrick Middle School, to participate in what NCI termed “IMAGINING THE FUTURE.”

This was one of a series of meetings and interactive workshop sessions, meant to adapt the final design of the NCI part of the new Town Center to the specific needs and preferences of the Aldine community.

A welcome was extended by Jose Rivera and others from NCI, and then Jamie Flatt, an architect with Page Architects, explained what had been accomplished to date in the design process, and what the audience should try to help decide in the evening’s work session.

Flatt said that early workshops had identified major functional elements that should be considered in the design, including a Welcome Center, a large Maker Space, with a commercial kitchen, Classrooms, spaces for Workforce Training, a Lounge or Relaxation space.

Flatt explained that each of these spaces had been made to size in the shape of small blocks, and the workshop teams were being asked to arrange these blocks into a relationship model, or site plan, and in the process discuss their criteria or desires, for the whole group to benefit from at the wrap-up.

She noted that from earlier workshops, the architects had designated the blocks as follows:

1. Welcome Center with a Retail shopping component

2. A Cafe with an adjacent Recreation room

3. A maker space with a commercial kitchen included

4. A Gym and a Performance space

5. Classrooms, for meetings, workforce information, and financial services.

6. East Aldine office space and support areas.

Page Architect David Quoderman, and Landscape Architect KG Osakura also gave some advice to the design teams, and monitored their work as it progressed.

KG in particular urged the groups to include outdoor spaces of varying sizes, with definition, and to try to picture them as “Happy Fun Outdoor Spaces.”

The teams were highly original, using paper, scissors, long pipe cleaners, the premade blocks, crayons and other devices to not only solve the relationship exercise, but to extend the parameters and find new desire. For instance, many of the schemes contained a water feature, or a fountain, and arcades, and walking trails. Many schemes located parked cars at the perimeter, to favor open space and pedestrian circulation.

Flatt and the others summarized the results on large paper display panels, and plan to present the exercise as a video too.