ARC 493/593

My Own Private Buffalo

Making a Personal Encyclopedia of Place


This seminar begins by defining “place” as a constellation of interesting - perhaps even unique - characteristics that interact to create a special site, one worth getting to know.

But how can we actually create this multivalent sense of place? How do we convince our friends, teachers, colleagues and clients that a particular spot - (a neighborhood, building, room, or object) - is interesting and special - that it really deserves our attention, curiosity and care?

Over the course of the semester, we will select sites in Buffalo and use these as a laboratory to test the capacity of place. Along the way, we will study existing approaches (see below) and be inspired by these to create our own strategies that elevate sometimes overlooked or seemingly uninteresting sites to places that merit much more than just a second (or third) look.

By the end of the semester, students will have created an informal portfolio of quick sketches and models, studied but small drawings, photographs and short written pieces that will constitute a highly personal (and, hopefully, highly compelling) atlas charting the essentials and particularities of a very special place.


Cast: the Place-makers