August 23rd, 2011 | Filed under News
Rod Garrett, 2010. Photo by John Curley.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Rod Garrett, the long-time architect and designer of Black Rock City.
Since 1997, Rod has guided the Black Rock City urban design, overseeing its evolution from a functional plan to provide structure to a desert encampment of 10,000 to supporting a thriving metropolis of 50,000+, always with an eye towards form, function, elegance and the development of community. In addition to his urban planning role, Rod also designed Black Rock City’s major infrastructural elements, including the Center Camp Café, and every Man base since 1997.
Through his work over the years, Rod has made considerable contributions to the Burning Man community, for Rod’s particular genius was understanding the importance and power of design as it relates to social interaction and cultural development. Rod’s brilliance, passion and dedication to his craft will be sorely missed by the Burning Man organization.
Many of Rod’s writings about designing Black Rock City can be found in the Metropol Blog Series.
This year, the road encircling Black Rock City’s Center Camp will be named “Rod’s Road” in his honor.
[Harley K. DuBois is a founding member of the Burning Man Board, with over 15 years of project management, art and city planning experience. As the City Manager of Black Rock City, Harley oversees both the Playa Safety Council and Community Services departments. She originated theme camp placement, the Greeters, Playa Info, and Burning Man Information Radio, and has kindled the development of all other Community Service teams. This post is part of the Metropol Blog Series.]
The zoning of Black Rock City began, from my recollection, by about our third year on the Black Rock Desert. There was nothing official about it at first; it was completely casual and self-governing. People simply camped with their friends or other like-minded folks. That meant that people who stayed up late and were loud at night camped together. People that had mad scientific projects involving explosions and fire clustered around each other, and those that liked the sunrise and afternoon activities created a spot of their own.
The First Theme Camp: Christmas Camp, 1993
The origin of theme camp placement was the chaotic debrief meeting after the 1994 event. I raised my hand with an idea (… learning quickly that in the Burning Man culture, you’re likely to be tasked with doing the ideas you voice!). I suggested that instead of lining our city streets like the “default world” does with commercial ventures, why not use theme camps to help define the city? In 1995, there were about 10 camps placed (my personal favorite was Birthday Camp were it was everyone’s birthday every day), and they helped define Center Camp both physically and culturally.
In 1996, the amount of camps doubled, and placement included No Man’s Land. In 1997, when the growing population necessitated our first fully-conceived city layout (see Rod Garrett’s post Designing Black Rock City for more information), I placed theme camps along the Esplanade frontage, delineating the end of the city proper and the beginning of our central art space on the open playa. Placement was done largely to honor those creating the interactive camps, to curate an experience for citizens, and to activate an area that had significance. To this day this is still largely the intent of placing theme camps throughout Black Rock City.
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