Urban Community Planning for Obsolete Spaces

Urban Community Planning for Obsolete Spaces

Student Artist: Scott Colson
Course: Data Visualization with Lucy HG Solomon
Researcher: Christina Simokat, CSUSM Environmental Studies and Biology

The title may be a bit confusing at first, but what it basically means is that big box stores such as Walmart, JC Penney, Sears, etc. are failing. These big box stores close down and more or less become abandoned. No one buys the space, so it just sits there taking up room. This project asks the question, what can we do with this space that makes sense and benefits those in need?

When I first chose this project and connected with my researcher, Christina Simokat, I was given no data. I knew this would be a challenging project because there is not a lot of data and studies on this. But there are numbers. Numbers that show why these big box stores and failing and how many are getting closed down. After gathering up some numbers on this, I needed to connect to a relevant issue in this country. I found some more data on the issue of homelessness, and that’s when it all clicked.

We have all this space (over 1 billion square feet!) that is not being used, and we have people who are without shelter and need our help. It makes sense to utilize this space to help those in need.

After tons of data finding, I went to my sketchbook to brainstorm ideas to translate this data.

I ended up going with something very recognizable to all – generic game pieces to represent the homeless population and monopoly houses to represent the abandoned big box stores.

I almost always show my art digitally, but I wanted to try something new.

Planning & Brainstorming  

I created about a dozen 12 x 12 cards with information and graphics that further tell this story. Trying something new was definitely a refreshing experience for me.

My goal for this project isn’t to house the homeless overnight. I know it is very complicated, balancing the ownership of unused property with locating needed resources for people. But in the end, I just want my audience to be aware of this issue.

“The State of Homelessness in America 2016.” National Alliance to End Homelessness. National Alliance to End Homelessness, 6 Apr. 2016. Web. 13 Dec. 2016. <http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/SOH2016>.

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