A Wall, No Matter How Pretty, Is Still…a Wall

by Michele Reeves on March 11, 2014

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During the summer of 2013, my husband and I took a very uncharacteristic vacation to a spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. I say “uncharacteristic” because a spa in the desert at the height of summer would not normally be at the top of our list of vacation destinations.

But, long story short, we were quite happy to find ourselves, sans children, in this suburban Arizona town in June. (And, may I say, it was a lovely location from which to watch the super moon!)

So, one of the things that jumped out at me about The West’s Most Western Town (yes, that is Scottsdale’s somewhat official nickname), is that the built environment of this relatively new, arterial-focused city is dominated by walls.

Undulating walls…walls made of different materials…short walls, long walls, tall walls, grand walls, pony walls. There are walls with embedded art. There are elaborate walls along freeways. One special wall, my personal favorite, had fish sculptures on it that glowed a deep, blood red in the night.

And I realized something by the end of my stay there: no matter how much you spruce ’em up, a wall will always tell a story of division, of separation, of disconnection, of hinderance, and of restriction. They certainly lent an air of desolation while driving about the city, and made me rather desperate to penetrate the walls, so I could feel as if I had arrived somewhere.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Cerri October 20, 2018 at 11:01 am

Howdy Michelle,
Not sure you’ll get this before we meet up in Duluth this week. I’m Lisa, a development partner with Augie Anderson on the big bldg at 1832 W Superior St. in Lincoln Park. I’ve lived in Duluth about 20 years. So happens I grew up in Scottsdale, since ‘65, then inherited a place a few years ago. I’m back there a couple times a year, but Duluth feels real to me. I found it incredibly ironic and amusing that one of the highlights on your blog page would be my old home town, which I have found pretty void of soul as the years have passed.

And the walls! So true, no matter how attractive they’re made they are separators. I look forward to your presentations, and especially our focus charette.

Michele Reeves January 7, 2019 at 1:33 am

Lisa! I hadn’t cleared out my blog spam filter in awhile, so this got caught until just now. Great to see you in Duluth. And, I had no idea you were from Scottsdale. Thank you for reading, and thank you for commenting, and THANK YOU for hosting our charrette and meetings — it was truly a wonderful opportunity to go through your building!

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