This week I have been working on an analysis of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood and the Strategic Investment Initiative 2.0. We were to establish two different focal areas: 1.) an improvement to the existing framework and 2.) a new anchor that recommends revitalizing a new area in the plan. My first focus area was along Detroit Ave. near the junction of 5 major streets in the Detroit Shoreway area. This area is important because it marks the entry to the Gordon Arts District and an efficient design will help upgrade the image and appearance of the community and increase its value. Site A:
The new anchor in this neighborhood will incorporate a number of infrastructural elements: the river, the railway, the streets, and a bridge. I will focus on vacant properties and open space as a way to bring people and boost the economy near Lorain Ave. and W 85th street. This "new anchor" will be focused on developing a new anchor to the SII masterplan. Site B:
Zaha Hadid Architects was commissioned to design The London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The design concept inspired me far beyond the design for the official summer Olympic National Stadium. The concept was inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion, creating spaces and a surrounding environment in sympathy with the river landscape of the Olympic Park. An undulating roof sweeps up from the ground as a wave, enclosing the pools of the Centre with its unifying gesture.
I chose to stick with the project area I have studied so far: The Detroit Shoreway because of the opportunities that I believe it offers for design and investment. Of course, the area has already received intense observation and renovations, but I believe these investments can be revised in some way. How exactly, I am not quite sure.
The next phase of mapping and analysis will be composed of the "in-between" spaces: the spaces in beween the districts of the Detroit Shoreway and being able to establish connections between them. I believe there are low cost solutions to implement this.
One of the discussions we had this week was whether or not rental properties are an asset or a liability to an area. I still strongly believe that owner occupied homes are a valuable asset to a community and denote stability. And with stability, comes a stronger and more defined community. However, I also think rental properties are import and should be implemented as well.
The conclusions we made I believe were very powerful and effectively established a foundation for further mapping in the future. Looking at the manufacturing district in greater detail, looking at these "in-between" spaces, and looking at the housing community are areas that could be further mapped.
The Detroit Shoreway (just west of Downtown Cleveland) was the area of study for our analysis of Economics this week. As part of NPI Strategic Investment Initiative (SII), the Detroit Shoreway has received much attention from the CUDC, CityArchitecture, the Northeast Ohio Urban Design Center, and the CCD. Our initial analysis looked at the SII and their design development process. We noted the emphasis placed on the establishments of districts, housing and character of the town.
We read the book "The Rise of the Creative Class." This book discusses a new type of social class called "the creative class" that is composed of approx. 30% of people; the people who rely on their creativity and ideas to work (architects, engineers, artists, etc.) We compared the creative class with the SII (shown above). Our mapping involved multiple systems (soil, hydrology, real estate, local restaurants, districts, and the list goes on....).
Focusing on real estate and investment, we derived a thesis statement from some of this initial mapping and from our site visit. The development of hougses for sale will increase the stability of the neighborhood, increase the value of the land, attract the creative class, and create an environment with character. Compare this statement with the implementation of rental units.
After mapping the real estate areas and establishing real estate zones, we conducted further mapping trying to determine relationships between some of the districts and zoning with these real estate zones. Is there any comparison.
We made some conclusions:
Battery Park creates a new owner occupied area, yet is isolated from the existing fabric.
Investments made to Gordon Arts district make it a destination for visitors to support the artistic endeavors of residents.
While it is true that the neighborhood provides housing options for a wide range of economic levels, these levels are divided into strict districts creating inequalities in the quality of life.
Industrial rehabilitation plays a minor role in the SII plan for the district, yet may play a key role in creating a thriving, healthy neighborhood with a strong creative culture.
The City of Bits
Mitchell discusses the reinvention of architecture and urban design in cyberspace in this reading. I believe there is a vast difference between the urban environment in cyberspace and the reality of it. Most notably is the lack of anonymity in cyberspace. It’s as if everyone is walking around with billboards attached to them. People capitalize on the ability to distinguish themselves as something they’re not. We affiliate people with labels and judge them by their profile picture and “status updates.” With social networking sites, “match-finding” sites, and the convenience of search engines, we can find information on almost everyone without ever meeting them. The evolution of virtual cities has brought with it this fear and reluctance towards real life engagement. We have created virtual environments in replace of physical environments. If this doesn’t help influence urban sprawl I don’t know what does.
On the other hand, it is tempting to see the growth of virtual cities to be a new type of planning. They help to ground, quite literally, the extremely complex atmosphere of relationships and place into one integrated city. They also help to experiment ideas at low cost and are easy to reconfigure. Virtual cities can be used to test scenarios and provide applications for new learning techniques, urban solutions, and help test prototypes. So in many ways, virtual cities could potentially be helpful to urban designers.
Concrete and Clay
It is interesting to the note the effect the Cross Bronx Expressway made on the East Tremont district. It decreased the value of the land, split the city in two, and eventually the district became a slum. I am interested in learning more about the assets/liabilities of highway proposals. It seems that different types of people looks at highways differently; in the case of New York in the 1930s and 40s, Robert Moses was a prominent figure, but over the years, the community became more involved and it seemed as if decisions were much harder to make. What is the deciding factor in the case of a modern highway initiate?
I believe that if you are trying to make a city for people, you should not run highway systems through it. As Jacobs makes very clear, New York would become a city for vehicles and not people in the case of Westway. The highway does too much to a city for it to be a benefit in the urban atmosphere. It will divide a city, cause pollution, contamination, noise and segregation. Highways should run along the perimeter of a city core rather than through a city. All cities should be able to maintain a center without it being interrupted by a highway.
Infrastructural City: LA
The river in LA is not a river as we know it, it is a drainage ditch. As a result of overdeveloping and engineering, natural and cultural applications have become integrated with the urban infrastructure rather than unique in its own way. A river should be natural and free-flowing and attain its own status. With the application of concrete the river became a manmade form and lost its identity. It seems very clear in all three readings the effect that development has on cities; effects that are often ignored.
This week we begin our study of economy by first analyzing the connections between the four systems we have studied thus far: Transportation, Open Spaces, Water, and Ecology, and their relationship with our final system: Economy.
Open spaces can be defined in a variety of ways. In the urban setting, open spaces are areas dedicated for parks, green spaces, and other open areas. These areas, commonly open to public access, can range from highly maintained environments to relatively natural landscapes. Water is a natural system that is often ignored and secondary to development and other infrastructure. Water, open space AND ecology are vital in natural environments. Ecology takes into account habitat and living organisms. In our case, we studied the use of vacancy and how we can implement ecology in vacant lands.
Transportation is an asset and liability. It connects the public to these systems and circulates through these systems, but because of transportation water and ecology are often secondhand and ignored. Culverts and engineered ditches are the results of development and planning and the natural environment is lost.
So how does this all connect with economy? Economy is the system that makes all of the other systems possible. It will determine if a design is possible or practical. Knowing how to deal with the economy efficiently will differentiate the good and bad designers. Of course, my opinion may change with further research. I am curious as to how this system will play out.
This week we concluded our analysis on ecology. The system, I felt, was a little rushed but turned out to be a success. Our process, as outlined below, looked at the vacant areas in the Doan Brook Watershed. We proposed a solution to the ecological problems in the area by looking at a variety of scales. We grouped the vacant areas based on density and location.
Our group proposed a series of stages for the evolution of a vacant site into an urban ecological solution. As noted above, there are different "types" of vacancy based on the ecology and land use / land type. The first process which I looked into was Deconstruction.
After deconstruction, we looked into an eco land base and the succession of a forest. The stages of succession evolve from initial land cover: grass and shrubs, to a young woods, a moderate woods, a maure woods, and finally, a climax point.
Our design interrupts this process at the young woods stage. We are trying to control the waste and the improper use of the land by taking care of it. Our solution was to turn the land into a tree nursery. To do this, some initial planting and maintenance is required. We looked at the different vacancy types and how we could possibly apply different layouts and designs based on the ecological system. Maintenance will be required, and at this point we recommended community involvement. The difference between our definition of market ecology and traditional ecology is the community involvement initiative.
I spent time looking at tree nursery layouts. I noticed different elements such as shading devices, storage sheds, and placement of plants that I didn't have time to get to. It should be noted however, that these elements were investigated.
Our model attempted to make relationships between the three strategies for vacant land in terms of ecology. I believe it was successful but could have ben further developed. Time again was an issue on this project, but for the time we had, I believe we proposed a rational and strong solution.
Brandon E. Young