We have moved into a new age in America... we have become satiated with enough "stuff". Now we want experience. Connection. Meaning.
The rise of urban redevelopment is emblematic of this desire. It is the exchange of the bland niceties of space, conformity and consistency for the intensity of real human engagement.
Yet developers, schooled in the "build it cheap and stack it high" mentality that has fueled the post-war boom years, have not learned how to navigate catering to these re-emergent needs. Embracing the bare bones, "horizontal" outsourcing model that dominated 90s-00s business as a whole, developer's really simply became builders. They could construct buildings cheaply and efficiently but had no idea how to create "places".
What are "places"?
They are venues for people to connect and experience. They surprise, they delight, they comfort, they inspire. They are places to ponder, to cry, to laugh, to fall in love.
This is what Exxir has set out to - and needs to - deliver.
We do that by being more than just "builders". By recognizing, that humans - at the core of our biology - are social creatures and crafting the places that activate that sociality.
How do we achieve this, figuratively?
First, by comforting people. The spaces need to feel good. Their massing needs to be human scale. Their materials need to inspire a sense of trust and permanence. Their design needs to project a sense that this place was important to someone and so I need to treat it with respect and affection.
Second, by inspiring people. Places create neighborhoods. People create places. Some people are thought and creativity leaders. We need to create places they feel are worthy of their investment. These people are the building blocks of places... and they are a primary reason we invest in urban areas, because they are drawn to humanity, in all of its' grit, diversity and nuance.
Third, by celebrating experience. People are the material but experience is the glue. We draw the people in with the first two steps but experience is what bonds them together. It takes many forms. Two neighbors on bar stools, delighting in a perfectly crafted drink while the warm light falls just so. A diverse group at a poetry reading, so different but all touched in the same place. The umber tones of a coffee brewed with care downstairs lit alight by the early morning sun illuminating that end seat on the kitchen island...
The development process of the last 40 years hasn't been able to deliver the above results. It is adept at building the inert human body but without understanding how to create the spark of life behind the eyes. Exxir has to facilitate that life.
So how do we achieve this in actuality?
First, creation. With regards to the construction of the built environment, every action the development team makes needs to directly answer one question: how does this action create a moment of comfort, inspiration of experience? If it doesn't, it needs to be improved or eliminated and replaced.
Second, curation. Exxir cannot be hands off when it comes to the retailers, restaurants, hotels, offices and residential partners that are the anchors of our places. Everyone of them needs to demonstrate a level of creativity, purpose and commitment that meets the culture of the place. Exxir will not let brokers and economics dictate occupancy. We need to go the extra mile to identify, vet and - most importantly - garner the commitment of these partners. In addition, Exxir will take matters into its' own hands: creating our own hospitality group to fill in gaps in experience that we cannot find suitable 3rd parties to fulfil. Creating our own residential management group to make certain out resident's front door is manned by people who care deeply about their daily experience and want to make certain the connection to the neighborhood is always maintained.
Third, activation. We have built the bones of a place, now let's provide the cues that tell its' story. This gives permission to our community to invest themselves in the narrative of place. Exxir needs to bring every cranny to life with art. Music. Events. Games. Dancing. Humor. Laughter. None of these simply for their own sake but to contribute to the story the narrative we invite our community to contribute to. We have to involved every inch of the way in recruiting the artists, that activate our places inspiring them to create with intent. We need to set the standard and direction with our own tireless programming but also allow air and space for other community members to follow suit.