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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

February 2007 Issue

Placemaking for the Creative Class
Emerging trends offer opportunities for landscape architects.

By James Richards, ASLA

Placemaking for the Creative Class James Richards

San Francisco, Seattle, and Austin, Texas, have it. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin want it. It’s the Creative Class, a term coined by social theorist and author Richard Florida to describe the software designers, scientists, engineers, architects, artists, writers—and yes, landscape architects—whose ideas are driving what many trend watchers see as a new, global economic order.

Florida isn’t alone. Futurist Tom Peters observes that American business, long driven by price and in more recent decades by quality, is now focused squarely on creativity and those who bring it to the table—what he succinctly calls “Awesome Talent.”

The dramatic advances in technology that have helped empower talent, the thinking goes, have also made workforces more mobile and less tied to traditional employment centers. This has enabled young, creative professionals to make place and quality-of-life issues their first priority in choosing where to live and pursue work. Indeed, as Florida states in Rise of the Creative Class, place is “becoming the central organizing unit of our economy and society, taking on the role that used to be played by the large corporation.” Peters concurs, insisting that “to attract, retain, and obtain the most from Awesome Talent, organizations will need to offer up an Awesome Place to Work.” This implies more than a stimulating physical plant; it points to regions, cities, and districts where innovation and creative opportunity can flourish.

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