Studio William Cochran - Catalytic Public Art for American Downtowns

The Shining Dark, Baltimore
Community Bridge, Frederick Maryland
Centennial Sculpture Park, Rochester, NY
The Merriweather Horns, Columbia Maryland
The Dreaming, Frederick Maryland
The Dream Pool, Frederick, Maryland
Two Roads, Silver Spring
Pillar of Fire, Washington
Torris, Alexandria, VA
Cornerstone, Rockville MD
Poets Walk, Rochester
Kardia, St. Louis MO
Desire Lines, Bethesda, MD
Oak Wisdom, Baltimore
A Handful of Keys, NY
The Lonesome Touch, Martinsburg, WV
Sky Loom
The Weaving Wall
Credits & Links
Guest Book
Co-Creation and Civic Design

Humanity is becoming a permanently urban species. In combination with rapid technological and social changes, the growth and ongoing reinvention of cities creates complex challenges for planners. Landmark public art and public spaces can be powerful catalysts for economic vitality and community building on multiple levels simultaneously.

There is untapped potential for large-scale collaborative design processes to help dramatically expand the impact of civic design and public art - collaboration with non-artists, with organizations, with natural forces, and more. This co-creative process can link dissimilar people with each other and with their world, fostering connection, rapport and ownership. It can reveal unseen strengths within the community, focusing them in a lasting way at the core of the city, bringing ongoing benefits to cultural, social, educational and economic sectors.

A growing awareness of our impact on the natural world has paved the way for a new understanding of human life as part of an interconnected and interdependent fabric. New forms of cultural and social engagement in art have emerged in recent decades that build on this new understanding. Participatory public art projects explore and demonstrate a shared creativity, a collective efficacy - sometimes called co-creation.

Cochran Studio is interested in projects that leverage the imaginative power of the community to strengthen and anchor the work and multiply its benefits.

The value of this approach has moved beyond theory. One of our early prototypes, Community Bridge, drew creative participation from across the nation and from some thirty other countries, helping to ignite development of the long-stalled urban park around it, with new public and private investment now exceeding three hundred and fifty million dollars. The bridge helped shift attitudes and park development in a more community-friendly, mixed-use direction and has remained an economic engine for its city for more than twenty years, supporting downtown vitality and cultural diversity. Over a thousand new jobs were generated within walking distances of the neighborhoods where they are most needed. Many thousands visit this unusual project every year. It is consistently rated a five-star attraction on It speaks with a communal voice comprised of the individual voices of people of all ages and backgrounds.

"Community Bridge has brought community focus to a declining industrial area of the town, created significant capital investment to areas surrounding project site, and helped tourism to revitalize in this area . . architectural, artistic and cultural development in this community increased while problems related to racial tension began declining. As a consequence, the concept of this initiative has been replicated by groups nationwide . . . Today the bridge has become a symbol for shared values all over the world [and has] been tremendously successful at uniting people, building a broad sense of ownership, creating synergies between sectors, redirecting public and private investments, and strengthening communities for change."
–– Nil S. Navie, Arts in Peace Building and Community Development

"As one who has dealt with art and its relationship to society since the 1960's, I have not experienced a more successful effort in dealing with issues of race, ethnicity and community participation."
--- Floyd Coleman, Chair, Art Department, Howard University

"Community Bridge is a powerful demonstration of the contributions of art to community health. The project helped inspire the founding of the Arts and Health Outreach Initaitive at Penn State, which documents the interrelationships between the arts and health, including holistic community health and well-being."
--- Ermyn King, Coordinator, Arts & Health Outreach Initiative, The Pennsylvania State University


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