Small town America is Main Street. As Robert Venturi famously noted in 1972, “Main Street is almost alright.” But as Main Street ages, reinvents, and adapts, it tends to absorb layers of signage, amenities, and infrastructure. This accumulation creates visual noise and redundancies. Ten years prior to Venturi’s statement, Alexander Girard commented on Washington Street specifically, “We have pretty much arrived at a ‘jungle’ wherein one sees everything at the same time he is seeing a blur of nothing.” Our installation, inspired by Girard’s comment, is an architecture of subtraction. By inserting a series of reflective panels and surfaces on public infrastructure along an entire city block of Washington Street, Jungle Subtraction aims to visually edit the pedestrian landscape. This project asks, how can an architecture of subtraction today help the Main Street of tomorrow?

People For Urban Progress (PUP) is an Indianapolis non-profit that advances good design and civic sustainability by developing products and projects in connectivity, responsible reuse, and making. With founder Michael Bricker as director of public design, PUP’s work is about rethinking the future of cities as it relates to the lifecycle of its materials, matching these resources with existing community needs. Indianapolis’ sports tourism industry has provided the materials for PUP’s most visible projects: Super Bowl street banners and Hoosier Dome textiles become stylish bags in PUP’s workshop. PUP has salvaged thousands of bright plastic seats from Bush Stadium and given them new life as bus-stop seating around the city, diverting them from landfills and enhancing the city’s transit infrastructure. A recently completed project— IUPUI Redwood—saw PUP studying the redwood boards that clad several campus parking garages and designing new outdoor furniture to reuse the wood, complement the campus’ modernist architecture, and activate public spaces.

Our work at PUP is about rethinking the future of cities as it relates to the lifecycle of its materials. We’re working to match these resources with existing community needs. People help make it happen, and design is our mechanism for transforming materials and spaces into products and places that are inclusive, welcoming, and integrated into the narrative and history of the community.