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Words Drive Perception

The challenge that developers face over and over again, especially as financing and construction costs push the industry towards larger and larger projects, is how to make these large projects feel organic. In DC’s The Wharf, a joint venture between PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette with urban design by Perkins Eastman, adding designed traffic chaos is the selected strategy by laying down mulit-use streets that don't delineate what spaces are for cars, what spaces are for pedestrians, and what are for cyclists (similar to a Dutch woonerf). It's a clever idea and I think it will have some positive effect. But there's a more obvious strategy for creating a sense of organic growth that is regularly neglected: how about not actually naming the whole project as one thing? If you call the entire project "The Wharf" than people will view it as one entire project. But what if you let each building have it's own name (or, god forbid, just a street address)? Whether this is a product of developer ego or poor marketing, it does larger projects a disservice. The words drive the perception.

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