I wrapped up this semester by finishing up my final project on the Detroit Shoreway and what I believe to be my project theme called the symbolic economy. Beginning with "The Rise of the Creative Class" and identifying who exactly the creative class is, I wanted to address a community of creative people, most appropriately in the Gordon Arts District. I addressed the two topics of the existing fabric and a new anchor by proposing two different and unique systems: the symbolic monument and the symbolic infrastructure. My presentation boards are shown below.
This design was critized for its more radical approach to a symbolic culture that tried to address a creative class. My initial analysis lead me to believe that this would be a more ideal solution. However, I was expecting some criticism moreso because I decided to take a radical approach in order to try to address a radical initial to bring more culture and identity into the area. Of course, the design isn't perfect but it addresses many different elements that I believe contributed to a creative culture. It was a strong move towards the future of the Gordon Arts District and the Detroit Shoreway.
I chose to make a 3d model in sketchup rather than a physical model because it allowed me to render some streetside "worms-eye" views that showed how the environment would respond with people and my design. I felt like I produced enough valuable research and analysis given the timeframe I had for this project.
The jury review, overall, went well and I respect the criticism. I understand the points some of the jurors made. Unfortunately, I didnt have time to dive into the creative class research that may have been helpful for my argument but I still think I put up a good fight. The boards and presentation I believe turned out great.
I thought this semester provided me with a lot of valuable information in terms of urban design. Taking the landscape design approach is very important and I will make sure to do a thorough analysis of the site and conditions in future studio projects. I look forwards to my coming studios here at the CUDC and am glad I can finally say that this semester is coming to a close.
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:
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.
Great Streets by Allan Jacobs
This reading recognizes how city patterns change over time. It gives the example of downtown Boston, a particular example of a city whose scale and complexity changed in reflection of a compulsion to be up to date, “to achieve a kind of modernity.” Highway and public redevelopment initiates cause downtown to lose its character and become more like others. The complexity is lost, and the blocks become larger. Take for instance, Central Market, which used to be in Cleveland up until the middle of the 20th century, lay at the junction of 6 or so prominent streets in Cleveland: Ontario, Woodland, Eagle, Broadway, Sheriff, and Factory Street. The atmosphere was once lively and energetic. After a great fire that character was never redefined and was lost. A highway interchange now takes its place and the city pattern is completely changed. The white areas on the Cleveland map are now more bold and defined. Contemporary city planning does just this to a city: it loses its image in place of organization and order.
The Uses of Sidewalks: Safety in "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs
This excerpt addresses the issue of safety on city streets. I believe that the most important asset to a safe and secure city is to fill the city with people. However, you must also provide for those people efficient and healthy environments to live and work. A challenge that many designers face is how to make the “in-between” spaces safe: the alleyways, the parking lots, the streets, and the plazas. Coming to Cleveland, I envisioned the most unsecure place to be dark, shallow, narrow, bounded, deserted, and isolated from people. For the most part, my vision still holds. However, most recently my car was stolen from a parking lot right down the street from where I work. It was stolen in the middle of the day in broad daylight! While reading this, I couldn’t help but compare this parking lot to what Jacobs defines as safe and unsafe places. If occupied buildings and streets fronted this parking lot, then security would have never been an issue. The presence of people is in fact a security measure, and that would have made all the difference.
Prerequisites for Planning
This reading distinguishes between public and private spaces in a clear and logical way. When designing for residents in a complex building, the design for the 20 square foot balcony almost becomes as important as the 2000 square foot communal space. The private spaces are more personal and have a direct relationship with the inhabitants. Having multiple private spaces adjacent to one another is a strong representation of an effort to establish relationships between neighbors. Having this condition in adjacency to a public space such as a walkway, street or plaza is just as important. Being able to create transparent boundaries seems to be the task at hand, and doing so almost encourages this relationship that is ever so desirable. The question becomes how do we create these boundaries that serve two different, contradictory functions: provide a sense of enclosure for privacy and also encourage interaction between neighbors?
In order to design a successful city, one must think like a marketer, among many other things. When this reading discusses the vertical limits in the field of vision and the strategies that supermarkets take to get the most money from the buyer, it sparked an interesting topic that I believe could be applied to the design of cities. It mentions the shelving strategy; in which the regular goods are placed below the eye level and unique goods are placed at eye level; encouraging the consumer to buy impulsively. It fails to mention another important strategy that supermarkets are famous for. Perhaps the best example is Walmart, which practically redefined the store layout we are familiar with today. The basic techniques for store layouts that seek to capitalize on the amount of time a consumer spends in the store is this: place convenient goods in the back of the store, endcap displays and finally, placing impulsive goods such as magazines and batteries in the check out lane. Milk jugs are always placed at the back of the store for a reason. Have you ever gone to the grocery store and bought everything on your list and nothing more? Can this strategy be applied to cities? I believe so. Instead of placing a baseball stadium in proximity to highway exit, why not place it down the commercial street on the other side of the city. The occasional city-dweller now must pass a strip of retail stores, restaurants, hotels, and public plazas before they can finally get to their destination. It almost forces the person to engage the city more, even if it’s simply the observation we seek.
This reading distinguishes between “warm” spaces and “cold” spaces when comparing the different dimensions and intensities in various contact situations. It takes into account the human scale in different situations. The intense, narrow, and modest dimensions that define the warm spaces are crucial in the public spaces. The vision of the city can often be changed by how people perceive these intimate spaces: the architectural details, the street-side context, and the “off the beaten path” experience. As designers, we must know where these places should be and we must be able to distinguish these from the “cold” places: the large spaces, wide streets and tall buildings that create an impersonal relationship. I believe too much of one type of space results in negative results; there must be a balance between both types for a city to be successful.
What a trip Tommy and I had this weekend on our site visit! We met with two people at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and discussed the impact of stormwater and gathered information about the Doan Brook Watershed. Th visit was very informative and we took lots of pictures; even went on a nature hike exploring the marshes and the many different types of invasive and native plants in the area.
While on our site visit, we mapped out regions of ecological foci. Forests were mapped as young, moderate, or mature, and we also took note of topography, density, soil types (for as much as we knew), and habitat. We followed the entire length of the watershed. The first area we found interesting was a parking--> slope--> basin--> wetland park. It was very interesting to note that someone was able to efficiently control stormwater in a way we learned about in class.
The next place we found interesting was an area where we found the watershed being split in two: on either side of the railroad. We found controlled, engineered concrete ditches on either side. These are not ideal because they increase stormwater flow. To help the environment, I threw some rocks in the way!
Down along the railroad, we found a stormwater management failure. Because of sedimentation and erosion, a split occurred in an engineered depression to channel the water, resulting in breakage. We noticed concrete pavers used to slow down the stormwater, but because the system was broken it was almost useless. We determined that the system was used to control stormwater away from the railway.
Finally, we visited many vacant sites. One in particular seemed to be an abandoned house left after a fire. We couldn't help but wonder what happened to the site. We saw nature already beginning to take over. The site was littered with garbage as well. We were surprised by the amount of vacant sites we found.
Overall, the visit was very successful. We would like to thank the rain for allowing us to document stormwater firsthand. We are excited to see how this analysis will play out. More information to come this week.
The Dugway Brook Watershed (Cleveland, East Side) is approx. 9 square miles and contained within the cities of Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland and University Heights. Most of the watershed has been culverted, meaning it runs underground through storm sewer pipes. This was done in order to make room for urban development. Approximately 94% of the watershed has been developed. In only a select few areas is the watershed developed: Forest Hill Park in Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland, Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland Heights, and Bratenahl before entering Lake Erie.
Nine Mile Creek is the same story. Only small pockets of the watershed are exposed. Nine Mile Creek runs through the communities of University Heights, South Euclid, Cleveland Heights, Cleveland and Bratenahl. It drains approximately 18 square miles and is 11 miles long.
The question I asked while doing my research was: Why was their such a need to enclose these valuable watersheds? After further reseach, I found out that urban development was in fact, the primary concern. In 1912 the Ohio Board of Health approached the City of Cleveland with concern for the contamination into the watershed. Today, the watershed experiences nutrient overflow and stormwater drainage through pipes. This project we will be looking more into the impacts of stormwater and stormwater management and how people and development are affecting ecology.
Brandon E. Young