Imagine that a choice must be made among six massive development proposals, ranging from $400 million to $900 million in capital investment. The agency charged with this important decision has no urban redevelopment experience, has not engaged consultants in the fields of architecture and planning, and is not accountable to the city in which the development will take place. What could possibly go wrong?
Actually, that is the situation with the state Gaming Control Board in its second effort to pick a casino site for Philadelphia. Things did not go well the last time, and the board appears to have learned little from the experience - if the highly variable quality and generally unclear architectural presentations of the casino license applicants, who followed the board's vague and incomplete requirements, are any indication.
Now is the time to enhance the design requirements that applicants must meet to ensure this project makes a positive contribution to the redevelopment of the city. The gaming board needs to obtain advice from qualified design and planning experts, and it must recognize that it is in the urban-development business, as well as the casino-management business.
- George L. Claflen Jr., vice chair, Design Advocacy Group of Philadelphia, Claflen Associates Architects and Planners, Philadelphia