Thursday, October 20th, 2011
I’m pleased to be able to tell you all about another civic project I’ve been working on for some time, the Walk Indianapolis architectural tours.
These were inspired by the delightful guided tours of Chicago sights provided by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Those are awesome, but Indianapolis doesn’t have the sheer volume of visitors or sites to make that model work locally. Instead, we decided to provide tours using a self-guided, mobile device enabled model. We recorded local architects giving overviews of significant buildings and public spaces, then made those available to be consumed on the web via audio or text, or for download to your mobile device to take with you as you walk the tour route. There’s full integration with iTunes simple downloads. (Click here to check out the downtown landmarks tour, for example).
There are two tours up presently, but hopefully more to come. I’ve already had inquiries from those looking to contribute additional content. So we’ll see what happens. You may also want to check out a similar and more extensive project out of Los Angeles called Downtown LA Walks.
This was a project I originally proposed in my Pecha Kucha presentation “15 Quick, Easy, and Cheap Ways to Make a Big Urban Design Impact in Indianapolis.” I decided to take this one on myself because I figured even if I couldn’t find anyone to help me, I could do 100% of it myself.
As it turns out, most of what I had to do involved just asking others for help. This was a joint production of many volunteers including Jeff Robinson at the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (recording, web hosting, and project management), Sarah Hempstead at Schmidt Associates architects (scripts, narration), and Nathan Sinsabaugh and his team at Kristian Andersen and Associates (web design). The AIA Indiana chapter also contributed to the projects, as did Sanford Garner of A2SO4 architects (narration), Jonathan Hess of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf architects (narration), and Megan Fernandez at Emmis Communications (editing and fact checking). Thanks to all of them for making this a reality. It turned out not to be quick – it took two years – but it was cheap (i.e., free) thanks to all of them.
I think this is but one example of the ways we can use digital media and mobile device technology to enhance our experience of public space, and to just plain make our cities more functional. When you think about the transit tracker apps, the augmented reality navigation systems, etc. that are out now, you can see we’re on the verge of something big. It’s something every city and lots of entrepreneurs ought to be looking at.
Related: Announcing the Indianapolis Neighborhood Map (another project I worked on I’d encourage you to check out)>