Placemaking the Airport on the Way to West Palm Beach

Placemaking the Airport on the Way to West Palm Beach

The 20th Congress for the New Urbanism is now unfolding in West Palm Beach. With the help of three writers — Kristen Jeffers of The Black Urbanist, and Tony Garcia and Craig Chester of Transit Miami — Next American City will provide regular coverage of the Congress on our Daily blog.

Good morning from a wi-fi charging station at the airport in Greensboro, N.C., where I am waiting to board my flight from Piedmont Triad International, through Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta to Palm Beach International. Final destination: The 20th Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU 20).

Since I’m not quite at CNU 20 just yet, I figured it would be as good of a time as ever to talk about my love of airports and travel. As a placemaker, there is nothing I love more than traveling to great places, especially by flight.

I’m always looking around at airports checking out how they are made, how they are custom to the city I’m in and of course, what there is to eat. My favorite terminal thus far is that of Tampa International Airport. I feel like I’m on Mad Men coming through there, which is pretty awesome.

Usually, I don’t fly out of my home airport as I am today. Anyone who’s either flown in or connected in one of the North Carolina airports knows that Charlotte is huge, Raleigh has the awesome wooden arches and the dumpy shed. And Greensboro?

Question mark is right — or so I thought. I talked about how my airport was failing me in a previous post on my blog, but so far this morning, it’s starting to show characteristics of a better place.

I’m sitting at a wi-fi charging station. Gates that were empty the last time I was here now have brand new chairs with plugs and cushions, cool flower-shaped pillow chairs and displays of what makes our region unique.

(Did not know that the seat belt chair was made by a company in High Point, but apparently it was. Still haven’t seen Hunger Games yet, so don’t know the full significance. I just know that it’s important.)

Still, that and informative posters help present the idea of place. We are known as a furniture capital and we are living up to our name with the display (plus, it’s adaptive reuse!)

I also saved money and time by being able to fly out of my home airport. A friend is keeping my car and the airport is five minutes from his house. It’s about 10 if I were to drive straight from mine. Security was only about a five minute process and the TSA guy knows my dad and his siblings.

As much as my state embarrasses me sometimes, especially this airport in the past, I’m thankful that I was able to have such an easy time getting in and out this morning.

Onward now to Atlanta, West Palm Beach and CNU 20.

Kristen Jeffers blogs at The Black Urbanist. Currently in her second year of a Masters of Public Affairs with a concentration in community and economic development, she writes to bring together the community members with its designers, planners, policy-makers and visionaries. She’s been obsessed with cities since her childhood, when she started taking trips on the floor with maps, toy racecars and her Dad. She currently resides in her hometown of Greensboro, N.C., where she works with non-profits to raise their media profile. She facilitated a panel Towards a Cultural Urbanism at Next Gen 8 at CNU 19. Follow her on Twitter @blackurbanist or become her fan on Facebook (The Black Urbanist).

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