Produced by Benjamin Temchine
Other pieces by Benjamin Temchine
R. Tyler Mack
Posted on March 29, 2005 at 04:19 PM
For his Masters thesis Mr. Temchine studied the "failed" UN PLaza in San Francisco and the effect it has had on the space it was designed for, over the years. Though Mr. Temchine acknowledges that city planners hated the plaza before it was installed, he does not allow them to be correct. Instead, he focuses on the plaza's place in the city's heart and minds, its effect on the homeless problem of SF, and the philosophy of city design. He also touches on the hopeless attempts to revive the plaza speckled with remarks from the many personalities involved. Very interesting, even to a non-SF resident.
Posted on February 09, 2005 at 08:53 AM
This is truly great work. There were hundreds of places where the author could have taken short cuts, emerged with easy epiphanies. he avoided them all, and he's given city dwellers everywhere a really important text for refelecting on how planning gets done. And there is a wildly revealing moment when he's interviewing the landscape architect behind this mess--you hear the voice of undemocratic "expertise" ring out in all its unguarded clarity. A bravura piece of urban reporting and political thinking, jsut the right length.
Posted on February 06, 2005 at 05:08 PM
A well crafted piece that takes a couple of listenings-to to get everything from it. Sometimes I had a little difficulty understanding the circumstances surrounding and implications of all of the different viewpoints expressed. I felt a little left up in the air about what's happened to the people that used to congregate in UN Plaza. They've been pushed on, but where to? How has the removal of the benches and the fencing-in of the fountain effected the people for-whom this space was the most useful? Well united by contemplative soundscapes, this piece has the feel of the abandoned open-space that is its subject matter. Sometimes the wind blows quickly and sometimes, it's still, but it all amounts to emptiness in the end. Though I've never seen the plaza, I feel very acquainted with it having listened to this piece.
Posted on January 27, 2005 at 10:34 AM
I remember a plaza space in the middle of my college campus that was simply a vast swath of concrete, along with a dry fountain. The whole place just said, "Keep moving, nothing to see here." I was drawn to this piece because of my memories of that desolate area, and I was very impressed by the producer's investment in his subject. Anybody could drive past the UN Plaza and see the homeless and the addicts, but it sounds like he went back, and went back, and went back. It's especially nice to have the designer's voice in there, too. Beautifully constructed and a smooth listen.
Programming suggestion: use this with Benjamen Walker's "Theory of Everything" show about Kenmore Square in Boston (also a half-hour), another story about an artificially created public space that doesn't quite work for its city.
Posted on January 26, 2005 at 03:57 AM
I felt transported to this plaza via the many different prospectives I was treated to throughout this piece, from regular people who experienced the plaza in their youth, to the homeless and junkie population who live there now, to the folk who encounter the plaza on their daily commute. Hearing from the man who designed the plaza was a powerful addition to the piece. You can hear the love in his voice for this project and his disappointment in the way things turned out. Yet he wouldn’t change a thing, which I found moving. The background sounds were amazing and the music chosen matched the feeling of the piece very well. Personally, I really appreciate these in depth behind the scenes views into everyday places. Imagine how many people encounter the UN Plaza everyday and wonder what really goes on there… Listening to this with my morning coffee was 30 minutes well spent.
Posted on January 24, 2005 at 04:15 AM
A wonderful piece of work -- engrossing and engaging. Great characters emerge from the interviews; solid writing, too. Thanks to Temchine's happy turn of phrase, I'll never look at a street cleaning truck the same way again. PDs should drop a half-hour of the same old same old one day to give this worthy story some air. And don't let the tape noise stop you -- it adds to the gritty charm of the storytelling.