Group Identity

Ian, Angela and Pamanee were given the task of creating a marketing idea that would rebrand a new identity for Aurora Avenue. This was a great task with a clear goal. The team had some amazing community members, Kristine and Barbara who both seemed enthusiastic about and seemed to bring a lot to the conversation. There was more of an emphasis on discussion and less on creation, leaving a feeling of being rushed to produce in the end, from an observational standpoint. There wasn’t too much that stood out either negatively or positively, missing the “Wow!” factor.

The professionals seemed excited about taking part (except Barbara at the end) and had some great incite on Aurora. Kristine prepared by bringing visuals of how she envisions Aurora based on what other cities have done and the idea of “bringing back the neon” was a great slogan for a neon sculpture park, which is genius. The audience was asked to participate, which could have been emphasized more, and a chamber member was brought to the table.The group had a nice mix of surveys, videos and still shots that they took.

There were a number of ideas going on that were overlooked and could have been explored more thoroughly in this time, which was mainly used for discussion and more creation time could have been beneficial. There was some prior research and photography the group did, but it wasn’t completely clear how the information was useful for this charette, or how it directed topics of conversation. It would have been great to see more results from this prior work, like a graph or some statistical information. More visuals (both brought in and produced in the Henry), collaboration, movement, voices at the table and mediums could have been explored. More digital creating would be nice to see as well. This whole exercise is a learning experience and can’t be perfect.


The Players: Ian, Angela, Pamanee, Barbara Swift [BS], + Kristine Matthews [KM]
The Mission: Create a marketing system to rebrand Aurora

BS: Typology of the world [places akin to Aurora
+ Stigma regarding Aurora “Get in, Get out”
+ Funky stores with low overhead
[Kristine brought inspirational images of signs…referring to Aurora’s similarity to the Las Vegas strip]
+ “Pseudo pioneering”
BS: Importance of places that are not safe and that its okay they are not safe…rich diversity…ecosystem
+ Reality of service of 99…BS: “Deal with it”
[Group continues to go with whole-group conversations 5.15]
5.19 BS: The Wild West…low cost entry, but predation not ok
[Group circles around, facing the audience]
Scott: brings up issues of imposing an identity upon people
Quote: “Armpit of Seattle”…BS: “HAIRY!”
Ian attempts to lead the group forward, questioning the desired end product
KM: Branding for large audience
BS: authentic identity…not to lose sight of self with the promise of redevelopment
[Enter Community member from the audience…C]
+ Conflicting elements of stop and go
Break 5.40
5.50 Angela recaps for everyone
Community member comes to the table
KM: Brings up the product…Turning Aurora inside out, providing access to the backside…”BRING BACK THE NEON”…gratuitous efficiency
BS: Turn Aurora into live-work spaces…artists…Georgetown – cheap, large space
2 Themes [dictated by Ian]: Now vs. Then…Art + Engagement
[BS passes her “Hairball of Aurora” to KM]
6.05 split
NvsT: Barbara, Ian, Pamanee
A+E: Angela, Scott, Kristine, Community Member

Barbara + Kristine diagram…others watch
Leaders and followers – there is a need to alter roles…to play catch…professionals need to be followers for a time
KM asking others to draw; BS still the only one drawing
+ Listing out present conditions
+ Connection to front and back of house
+ Can’t turn your back on Aurora
+ Take program from the street…trying to do too much
PAUSE…long ponder without action
+ Continuing to draw and brainstorm individually
6.45 Shared Ideas to one another…Stores self identify
Group discussion
6.48 “Aurora: Open for People”
BS: Timeline…a diagram of actions
A+E: 7.00 Addressing Aurora as a person
7.05 BS passes the torch…allowing others to generate
[How to excite and spread out…what initiates action?]
Did the group discuss roles ahead of time?
Barbara sitting back while others produce…looking at the other team
No interaction
7.17 A+E begin to pin-up
Barbara strikes up a casual conversation with the community member
7.21 No collaboration has occurred
EKG Flat Lined at 6.48

Following the charette from a seat in the audience proved interesting. As prior observers have noted, it was difficult to hear the details of the conversation. This was not a problem, however, since I was more interested in trying to see if there is any relationship between the theories of group practice we have read, and the practical charetting skills we are able to bring to the table. From the standpoint of architectural theory, it becomes apparent that charette is an embodied practice, rather than a form of knowledge. To put this another way,
From a vantage in the audience, the identity charette never seemed to gain momentum: the conversation was cordial, but as Tyson has noted, there was no sense of group achievement at the end, as witnessed by the almost complete lack of collaboration while the project was being pinned up.
There are different types of challenges that can be recognized- some decisions seemed to dissipate momentum, while at other times the process sputtered through lack of group engagement. Overall, the group seemed to need someone to take the facilitator role, ideally if each member had been able to activate the momentum might have emerged.


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