Making Cities More Comfortable for People

Making cities more comfortable is the mission of Candy Chang and James A. Reeves, founders of  Civic Center in New Orleans. Together, they blend art, design, education, research, and urban planning to create spaces and tools to help people navigate their cities and improve their neighborhoods. Their belief is that public spaces should inspire conversation, make the machinery of the city more accessible, and restore a sense of dignity to the public realm.

Much more than conversation was inspired when Candy created the Looking for Love Again project. Invited by the Alaska Design Forum, the interactive public art project resides on the ground floor exterior of Fairbanks’ Polaris building, the city’s tallest high-rise which has stood abandoned for over a decade. The project is an experiment, asking questions like What happened here? Who grew up here? What good times were had? Why is it neglected? What should this space become? and How can it better fulfill our needs and dreams today?

Using simple chalkboards that say “Looking for Love Again,” the building was transformed into an emotional beacon pleading for love and inviting people to do a double-take and come in for a closer look. The boards invite people to share their memories of the building and offer their hopes for its future. A project site has been set up where all the responses are documented in posterity. There is even a space for people to contribute online and hopes are that the project can eventually expand to other cities.

Pretty ingenious way to involve people in community development in our opinion! If you liked this, definitely check out Civic Center’s other projects, many of which are grounded with the same basic theme. Another one of our favorites is the Before I Die project!


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