Placemaking in Olympia

From Christopher Alexander’s, A Timeless Way of Building

6. The specific patterns out of which a building or a town is made may be alive or dead. To the extent that they are alive, they let our inner forces loose, and set us free; but when they are dead, they keep us locked in inner conflict.

7. The more living patterns there are in a place—a room, a building, or a town—the more it comes to life as an entirety, the more it grows, the more it has that self-maintaining fire which is the quality without a name.

8. And when a building has this fire, then it becomes a part of nature. Like ocean waves, or blades of grass, its parts are governed by the endless play of repetition and variety created by the presence of the fact that all things pass. This is the quality itself.

Has any place in Olympia ever done this to you?

Reference: Alexander, Christopher, The Timeless Way of Building. New York: Oxford UP, 1980. x-xi

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2 Responses to Placemaking in Olympia

  1. emmettoconnell says:

    When I was a kid and a young adult, it was 4th Avenue between Capitol Way and Washington Street, centered on the Spar. It was the center of the universe. My memory of the block now seems different than the reality. It seems a lot smaller now.

    But, up until the time Bulldog News moved out and I stopped going to Spar so often, it smoothed out into just another downtown block.

  2. I agree with Emmet… The area of town where the Spar is reminds me of a time machine to a world that was the Olympia of 80 years ago.

    But I also suggest that what makes this town “alive” is that which is living… And not just humans, but all creatures… So wherever there are big trees and a concerted effort to create parks and open space is where the future of Olympia culture is; where the future of Olympia is being liberated for better things to come!

    And if I had to pick one spot that is more important than any other place in this regard it’d have to be the Dam that creates Capitol Lake, This tiny area is a wildlife hotspot with so many creatures visiting all day every day… And one day… When the dam is removed and the estuary restored the entire Deschutes estuary and river will be freed up to become a huge wildlife hotspot that draws recreationists and anglers from all over the region for long and memorable visits!

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