Posts tagged with "Cleveland":

Let There Be Light: Cleveland Museum of Art’s New Atrium Open

After seven years of construction, during much of which visitors were sent on an underground detour, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s expansive atrium opened in late August. The 39,000-square-foot Rafael Viñoly-designed atrium is essentially a massive skylight, which arcs from 55 to 66 feet in height across a space nearly as large as a football field. Planting beds complement the granite floor, anchoring an airy space that houses a second floor mezzanine and could seat upwards of 700 people for events. The space envelops the museum’s original 1916 white marble building and is is the principal component of a $350 million expansion and renovation project he planned for the museum ten years ago. More galleries in the new West Wing are set to open late next year. Though already open for visitors, the atrium won’t have its official celebration until October 28. The addition is cause for celebration among gallery-goers and Clevelanders in general, who can count the atrium among the city’s largest public rooms. It’s also a positive sign for the museum’s neighborhood, University Circle, which has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.

Cleveland Scrubs Clean a Long-Blighted Park

After nine years of fundraising, a transformed park in downtown Cleveland seems to personify the spirit of reinvention that has recently overtaken the city. Perk Park, originally built in 1972, was first conceived by I.M. Pei as a small piece of the 200-acre Urban Renewal District. It was once called Chester Commons (for its location at East 12th Street and Chester Avenue), but was renamed in 1996 for 1970s Mayor Ralph Perk. A gunman shot two young men in the park in February 2009, killing one and wounding the other. That incident spurred action from Mayor Frank Jackson and the City Council, who delivered the remaining $1.6 million for the renovation. New York’s Thomas Balsley and the Cleveland firm of McKnight & Associates are the landscape architects behind the redesign. Their plan opens up an enclosed area at the park’s center by removing interlocking walls of concrete, where the 2009 murder took place. They added trees and rows of light wands along the park’s edges. The design smartly borrows from the modernist principles that spawned the surrounding skyscrapers, cultivating a hospitable vibe that has so far received high marks from Clevelanders. The trees provide shade and a slight respite from the urban heat island effect. And, it seems, from increasingly outdated perceptions of blight and dullness in downtown Cleveland.  

What Moves Ohio City? Historic Cleveland Neighborhood Considers its Transportation Future

Ohio City, Cleveland’s self-described artisan neighborhood, also hopes to become one of the city’s transportation hubs. A new plan proposes “a 21st Century transportation strategy” for the mixed-use area, which is home to popular destinations like the West Side Market and the Great Lakes Brewing Company. The plan heavily features transit-oriented development. With 5 million bus riders travelling through each year, Ohio City is the region’s second-largest transit hub (downtown’s Public Square is first). They’re calling for a TOD plan that addresses all land within a quarter-mile of the existing rapid transit station. Reforming parking is at the heart of the plan. According to Ohio City Incorporated, the neighborhood added 35 business in the last three years and draws in more than 3 million visitors annually. Existing lots are overflowing and the community has staunchly opposed demolition in the historic neighborhood. Instead they could begin charging for parking longer than 90 minutes in two large lots at Lutheran Hospital and St. Ignatius High School. Revenue from that plan would help pay for infrastructure projects. How the transportation strategy will actually impact growth in one of Northeast Ohio’s most vibrant neighborhoods is still unknown. But The Plain Dealer's Editorial Board called it “a thoughtful plan that can easily be adapted as revitalization continues.”

Smaller Airports Struggle with Vacant Space

The airline industry was hit hard by the recession—2011 had fewer takeoffs than any year since 2002. Airports in cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Oakland are feeling the effects of that contraction, leaving one-time regional hubs and smaller airports with vacant and underused terminals. A report on airport building reuse commissioned last year by the Transportation Research Board found enplanements were down more than 60 percent in St. Louis over the last decade. Growing interest in regional rail transit could place further pressure on smaller airports to get creative with their extra space, especially as they face costly demolition bills and shrinking revenue.

Kordalski Takes Cleveland

The 2012 Cleveland Arts Prize committee levied praise on Steven Kordalski, the 59-year-old Cleveland architect who received this year’s Mid Career Award for Design. The award, which was first given in 1960, is the oldest of its kind in the country. Kordalski is president of Kordalski Architects, a boutique architectural studio in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood that specializes in corporate interiors, commercial, and residential projects. AIA Cleveland awarded Kordalski’s firm a Design Merit Award for their work on the offices of Amin Turocy & Calvin (pictured below). The law firm relocated to top floor of the César Pelli-designed Key Tower—Ohio’s tallest building—which Kordalski outfitted with full-height white laminated and clear glass, creating an open atmosphere in the office. Kordalski’s design maximized sightlines and outside views in the highest office space between New York and Chicago. A young Kordalski watched a modern home go up down the street from his parents’ house and decided to be an architect, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Cleveland is a tough market,” he told the Plain Dealer. “You have to stay really focused at what you do and what you believe in. It's important to take a client and educate them about why better design is important.”
Amin Turocy & Calvin LLP, image courtesy Kordalski Architects Inc.Amin Turocy & Calvin office interior, a project by Cleveland Arts Prize winner Steven Kordalski's firm.

On View> Brian Ulrich: Copia-Retail, Thrift, & Dark Stores

Brian Ulrich: Copia—Retail, Thrift, and Dark Stores, 2001–11 Cleveland Museum of Art 11150 East Boulevard Through January 16, 2012 Using only a hand-held camera, photographer Brian Ulrich captured the fluctuating economic climate’s impact on American consumerism in the last decade. Brian Ulrich: Copia – Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores, 2001–11 at the Cleveland Museum of Art features 50 color photographs, portraying anonymous commercial excess in three distinct venues. Whether engrossed by the saccharine colors and limitless temptation of big box stores or by the discarded whimsies of thrift shops, the photographed subjects are caught in a vicious cycle of spending. The final phase highlights the absent consumer, focusing on the prevalence of ghost stores and dark shopping malls as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, such as J.C. Penney, Dixie Square Mall (above).

7 Cities Consider Removing Major Urban Highways

In a shift from America’s traditional 20th century landscape, more and more cities are now considering removing major highways in favor of housing, parks and economic development. The chief motivation seems to be money, according to a recent NPR report highlighting the growing movement and the removal of Cleveland’s West Shoreway. As highways age, keeping them around doesn’t justify the high cost of maintenance. But tearing these highways down also means new opportunities for developing valuable real estate and rehabilitating blighted land. The federal government awarded $16 million to replace a New Haven highway with pedestrian boulevards last fall, and other TIGER II funds to explore highway removal in the Bronx and New Orleans have also been issued. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. remarked, "We think this is a big f---ing deal." Decades after urban renewal programs first put up highways, most city planners now realize that highways drain vitality from healthy neighborhoods and lower property values. San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway and Central Freeway are two poster children for how highway removal can rejuvenate neighborhoods. The collapse of the Miller Highway in New York also made way for what’s now West Street and Hudson River Park.
BALTIMORE: Demolition of Baltimore’s infamous "Highway to Nowhere," a one mile stretch that ends in a grassy slope, began last fall. In 1974, construction sliced through a vibrant working class area of west Baltimore, demolishing 700 homes and displacing 2,000 residents, mostly African American. The area is now characterized by vacant homes and high poverty rates. President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded $2.8 million for the highway’s removal, which will make room for transit-oriented development.

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CLEVELAND: The only way to get from downtown Cleveland to the waterfront is through poorly lit tunnels underneath the West Shoreway freeway. NPR recently highlighted the city's plan to convert the highway into an urban boulevard, in line with efforts to develop the waterfront, but opposition from suburban commuters forced the city to scale back the project. The original proposal would have added crosswalks to the road, parks, offices and housing, while the actual project will just focus on rebuilding the pedestrian tunnels.

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NEW ORLEANS: Decades before Hurricane Katrina and getting its own HBO series, Treme was one of the wealthiest African American communities in New Orleans, and Claiborne Avenue was its teeming commercial center. The construction of the Claiborne Expressway in the 1950s changed all that, displacing families and over 100 businesses. City planners are currently debating removing the highway as part of post-Katrina rebuilding. The plan would reclaim 35-40 city blocks from urban blight and 20-25 blocks of open space.

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SEATTLE: A battle is raging in Seattle over the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The highway's coming down after sustaining damage in a 2001 earthquake, but the $4.2 billion tunnel slated to replace it by 2016 remains a political hot potato. The project is entangled in lawsuits, with critics seeking to vote on the project. Mayor McGinn came out against the Seattle’s political establishment in support of a street level replacement. He’s also pushing for removal of the Viaduct next year, citing the damage it would cause in an earthquake.

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NEW HAVEN: The city recently received a $16 million TIGER II grant to convert part of Route 34 into an urban boulevard. Residents envision a re-do with narrow car lanes, wide sidewalks and a bike lane. The plan will add 960 permanent jobs and reclaim 11 acres of land that can be developed and taxed. It will finally unite the city's central business district with the rest of New Haven, ending the highway's stifling effect on economic development. Built in 1959, the highway displaced 600 families and 65 businesses and was never completed.

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BUFFALO: After several multi-million dollar projects failed to slow Buffalo's decline, planners set their sights on removing two of the city's major highways. The Skyway and Route 5 make commutes more difficult, cost millions in annual maintenance and block waterfront development. The state Department of Transportation decided to keep the elevated roadways in 2008, even though local officials and residents wanted a street level boulevard. A coalition of citizens and civic organizations appealed the decision in 2008, and continue to advocate demolition.

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LOUISVILLE: In the opening scenes of Elizabethtown, Kirsten Dunst maps out Interstate 64 in Louisville for Orlando Bloom because "the roads around there are hopelessly and gloriously confusing." He gets lost anyway, banging his hands against his steering wheel and yelling "60B!" The Ohio River Bridges Project, a $4.2 billion plan to expand the highway to 23 lanes of traffic at its widest point, would make things even more challenging. In 2005, two Louisville businessmen launched a grassroots campaign to remove the highway and develop the waterfront with a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. But it looks like the project's continuing with wider elevated lanes of traffic with some cost cut adjustments made in recent days.

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Changes at Architecture School Urban Design Studios

Kent State University has named Terry Schwarz the director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). A satellite of the College of Architecture, the CUDC provides urban planning and design services to underserved communities and neighborhoods. Schwarz has worked at the studio since 2000, creating, among other projects, the Shrinking Cities Institute, to investigate urban vacancy and declining population, and Pop Up City, an initiative to animate underused land with arts activities. Schwarz has a masters in city and regional planning from Cornell, and has lectured and published widely. The Urban Design Studio in Louisville has focused its mission on sustainability, according to Broken Sidewalk. The University of Kentucky College of Design, based in Lexington, recently withdrew its involvement in the studio, leaving the planning program at the University of Louisville as the primary partner. The Studio will also expand it's collaboration with AIA Central Kentucky raise awareness of contemporary design in Louisville.

Lights Out for Chinese LED Plant in Cleveland

Marketplace had a downright enlightening segment the other day about the potential and peril of using sustainability as a tool for economic development. New York and Chicago have been doing this with some success, and now Cleveland's mayor wants in on the act. But instead of simply promoting sustainability through tax credits, development bonuses, and mandates, Frank Jackson took a clever approach, saying whomever built a LED plant in the depressed Rust Belt city would get the contract to outfit it with all its civic lighting needs. It was a brilliantly shrewd move, until it all fell apart. Listen in to find out what happened.

Between a Column and a Hard Place

Rafael Vinoly recently completed a new addition and renovation at the Cleveland Museum of Art, a major encyclopedic collection set in the city’s leafy University Circle area, which includes Case Western Reserve University and cultural institutions like the famed Cleveland Orchestra. The campus includes a 1916 Beaux Arts building and a Marcel Breuer-designed addition from 1971. Vinoly reportedly worked closely with the museum’s then director Timothy Rub, and critics have praised the addition’s galleries and the improved circulation throughout the complex. While I’m not wild about the stripes on the exterior of the new East Wing, which at first seem like an odd echo of postmodernism from Vinoly, Breuer used similar bands of stone in his wing, and Vinoly's substantial proportions in masonry and glass strike a good balance between Beaux Arts and Brutalism. This is the first of a two-phase expansion. Rub recently left Cleveland for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he will oversee a major expansion at that museum by Frank Gehry. If it turns out as well as Vinoly’s work in Cleveland, the Philadelphia project will help to put to rest the belief that Gehry’s museums are not very art- or curator-friendly.