Abandoned buildings have become such a common sight that they often slip quietly into the backdrop of our cities like an accepted part of our landscape. How can we learn more about the stories behind these buildings and how can they better fulfill our needs and dreams today? Thanks to the Alaska Design Forum, I (Candy Chang) was invited to create a public art project in Fairbanks, where the tallest building has stood abandoned for over a decade. Looking for Love Again is an interactive public art project that will collect everyone’s stories and ideas about the Polaris Building to help us better understand the history and forces that have shaped Fairbanks, while tugging at the heart strings of those who might be able to make our dreams come true. During April 2011 (and maybe longer), a giant sign turns this vacant high-rise into an emotional beacon pleading for love, and chalkboards at the street level invite people to share their memories of the building and hopes for its future. A project website lookingforloveagain.org will collect the same online.
So this project is an experiment – if given better tools, can residents share valuable stories about these buildings? What happened here? Who grew up here? What good times were had? How has this place changed? Why is it neglected? And what if we had more of a say in what these spaces could become? How can they better fulfill our needs and dreams today? What if we can prove there is a strong enough customer base for a new business to open? See more photos, stories, and ideas on the project website, lookingforloveagain.org.
Huge thanks to project coordinator David Hayden of the Alaska Design Forum for his dedicated project management, Mike Hondel of the Alaska Design Forum for his dedicated project assistance, and to the following people for their generous installation assistance along the way: Bernie Baecker, Carol Hayden, Sean Hering, Kate Incarnato, Galen Long, Dustin Miller, Jessica Nelson, Amy Nordrum, Ian Oleson, Sheri Oleson, Pat Rivera, Jack Schmid, Trent Schoenemann, Sue Sprinkle, Dave van den Berg, and Jared van deer Weele. April 2011.