Posts tagged with "Knight Foundation":

Urban beaches, ‘visionary’ architects, ice skating paths among winners of 2017 Knight Cities Challenge

A forest on an abandoned freeway, a bike path turned winter skate track, and participatory governing at the bus stops are slated for reality thanks to the benevolence of the Knight Foundation, which today announced more than three dozen winners of its city-focused grants. This is the third year the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has bestowed $5 million on projects that enhance public spaces large and small across 26 foundation-selected locales. Through the Knight Cities Challenge program, groups or individuals in those places are invited to submit proposals with an eye towards making cities more successful, a mandate that winners interpreted with an eye towards civic dialogue, youth engagement, and neighborhood revitalization. This year, 19 of the 26 cities are represented in 33 winning proposals the Knight Foundation selected from 144 finalists, which were in turn picked from more than 4,500 applications. The average grant is worth around $147,000, with awards ranging from $12,000 for a mobile voting booth in Georgia to more than $300,000 for a traveling participatory design lab in Philadelphia. Below, see how all of the winners will be putting those grants to use (all project descriptions are courtesy of the Knight Foundation):
The A Place Aberdeen Area Community Foundation Aberdeen, South Dakota Opening a pathway to more opportunity and civic engagement by creating a one-stop information and assistance center for immigrants and new Americans. Innerbelt National Forest Hunter Franks Akron, Ohio Reconnecting two socially and physically isolated neighborhoods by replacing a closed freeway in Akron with a lush forest and public space. @PLAY Art x Love Akron, Ohio Encouraging deeper community connections through custom games and recreational activities that highlight the unique history, identity, and character of each of the city’s communities. Witnessing the Beach Gulf Coast Community Design Studio Biloxi, Mississippi Engaging the public across race, income, and age differences through a series of community gathering and discussion spaces at the beach along the path of the “wade-in” protests, which led to the desegregation of the public beach in 1968. Speak Up Bradenton Manatee County Government Bradenton, Florida Encouraging greater civic engagement by opening up avenues for citizens to participate in government decision-making in non-traditional settings such as bus stops, landmarks, and other public gathering places. Rail Trail Grove & Field Charlotte Center City Partners Charlotte, North Carolina Encouraging economic development and city vibrancy by creating a lively place to connect with nature and neighbors along Charlotte’s light rail line. The space will also help link a retail employment center to the nearest transit stop. Your Move, Charlotte Varian Shrum Charlotte, North Carolina Strengthening connections between citizens and local government through a weekly podcast and follow-up roundtable, in which government representatives and millennials engage on local issues. The State’s Front Porch City of Columbia Columbia, South Carolina Encouraging residents to connect with their government by reimagining the State House as a front porch for all, including seating, events and alternative work spaces throughout the State House grounds. Atwater Beach Detroit RiverFront Conservancy Detroit Further activating the Detroit waterfront by creating an inviting, urban beach along the city’s Atwater Street. Better Buildings, Better Blocks Building Community Value Detroit Providing a pipeline for minorities into real estate jobs, by teaching the fundamentals of small-scale property development and providing initial project financing. Design Center in a Box: A Place for Informed Community Exchange City of Detroit Planning and Development Department Detroit Promoting civic engagement by creating pop-up city planning offices where residents can connect with city planning staff and others to exchange ideas and become informed about the design and planning work happening in their neighborhood and the city at large. Detroit’s Slow Roll Detroit Bike City Detroit Leveraging the 25,000 cyclists who participate in Slow Roll Detroit and demonstrating how to engage Detroit’s nonprofit sector, drive renewal and smile while doing it. Happy 18th Birthday! Local Citizenship Kit Citizen Detroit Detroit Celebrating Detroiters becoming eligible to vote by sending them a local citizenship kit in the mail on their 18th birthday. Making Canal Park Pop City of Duluth Duluth, Minnesota Connecting residents to both Canal Park and to each other by creating a pop-up parklet that will encourage more people to visit. City Church Ruins Garden City of Gary Redevelopment Commission Gary, Indiana Making downtown more vibrant by transforming a historic, abandoned Gothic church in downtown into a ruins garden and event space. The Grand Forks Freezeway Nicholas Jensen Grand Forks, North Dakota Inspiring winter fun and city pride by turning unused bike paths into ice skating paths during winter.
Plant&Play North Limestone Community Development Corp. Lexington, Kentucky Building an adventure playscape and community garden in Castlewood Park, a 30-acre neighborhood park on the north end of Lexington. Back Lot Drive-In at the Tubman Tubman Museum Macon, Georgia Expanding the reach of Macon’s art and museum district by transforming the parking lot of the Tubman Museum into a drive-in theater with screenings that coincide with exhibitions that support the museum’s mission to educate visitors about African-American art, history, and culture.  Pop-Up Garage Park Cole Porter Macon, Georgia Converting an abandoned parking garage into a vibrant, environmentally-friendly community space by introducing green space, art, tables and event programming. Civic Incite: Citizens Setting the Agenda Civic Incite Miami Inspiring civic engagement with an online platform that tracks public meetings and legislation across cities to promote in-person engagement with local governments. Miami-Dade Quickbuild Program Street Plans Collaborative Miami Establishing a program within Miami-Dade County in partnership with local transportation nonprofit Green Mobility Network that advances low-cost, quick-build transportation and open space projects. Rep(resentative) Miami Engage Miami Miami Breaking down barriers to civic participation by putting clear, actionable information about local elected officials directly into citizens’ hands. The Year of Voting Dangerously Twin Lakes Library System Milledgeville, Georgia Engaging the community with a mobile voting booth that prompts residents to respond to pressing local issues and initiatives. 12 for 12: Popup to Rent City of West Palm Beach Palm Beach County, Florida Expanding on the success of a pilot pop-up gallery project by inviting local talent to activate 12 empty storefront spaces as an economic catalyst for West Palm Beach. A Dream Deferred: PHL Redlining – Past, Present, Future Little Giant Creative Philadelphia Building more equitable communities by launching a series of convenings across several cities where decision-makers, social entrepreneurs, activists, and innovators discuss equitable community development. PHL Participatory Design Lab City of Philadelphia Philadelphia Providing a space for Philadelphians to design city service solutions with a mobile, participatory city design lab that will travel from neighborhood to neighborhood. Tabadul: [Re]Presenting and [Ex]Changing Our America Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture Philadelphia Creating forums for cultural exchange that connect communities and activate public spaces through photographic displays of youths’ expressions of identity. Up Up & Away: Building a Programming Space for Comics & Beyond Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse Philadelphia Creating a space where diverse communities of aspiring comic creators can attend workshops and receive professional development. Vendor Village in the Park: Vending to Vibrancy Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Corp. [SEAMAAC] Philadelphia Providing entrepreneurial opportunities and connecting diverse communities by opening a marketplace for immigrant cuisine in Mifflin Square Park. Local Color Exhibition District San Jose, California Activating vacant commercial sites with a creative bazaar featuring artist studios alongside modular, open spaces for multidisciplinary community learning and teaching. Reimagining the City: City Designer for San Jose City of San Jose San Jose, California Working to ensure San Jose develops into a walkable, green and engaged metropolis by hiring a visionary chief architect. Pop-Up Power to the People City of St. Paul St. Paul, Minnesota Creating a suite of fun civic engagement tools that gives St. Paul residents the power to design their own community meetings. Horizontes Armando Minjarez-Monarrez Wichita, Kansas Connecting two neighborhoods by painting murals depicting neighborhood residents through an industrial corridor that separates them and engaging residents to reflect on what a “new horizon” for the neighborhood would look like.

Six U.S. cities will join tactical urbanism workshop series

Is the dawn of “Tactical Urbanism” upon us? This approach to reshaping urban environments, which focuses on small-scale interventions, is a rising trend in urban environments across the U.S. Now six cities have been chosen to be part of a tactical urbanism workshop series. Selected from a group of 18, Akron, OH; Austin, TX; Fayetteville, AR; Long Beach, CA; Washington, D.C.; West Palm Beach, FL were the lucky half-dozen who will be part of a series that aims to "jump-start" tactical urbanism in the areas. The program, which benefits from funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, aims to "advance street safety and placemaking projects such as pedestrian plazas, bike lanes, shared streets, and more." City authorities in the chosen cities will work alongside urban planning, design, and research firm, Street Plans Collaborative. The firm and city officials will design a workshop that encompasses tactical urbanism methodologies with a "hands-on" project that positively impacts a local street or public space. In doing so, the workshops will see the first physical application of the Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Designa resource produced by the collaborative that specifies materials and design principles for tactical urbanism projects. “Over the past seven years Street Plans has built a practice around implementing Tactical Urbanism projects around the globe,” said Street Plans Principal Mike Lydon, who leads the firms New York office. “Our four open-source guides and recent book, along with many other resources, provide substantial case-study level information on the topic. But, we’ve heard time and again that what is needed now is more guidance about design and materials, for both city- and citizen-led projects.” “The Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Design will address this need by providing design and materials information for Tactical Urbanism projects of varying time scales and level of formality,” added fellow Principal Tony Garcia, who leads the Miami office. “This new resource will help bridge the gap between city- and citizen-led projects, helping a host of stakeholders widen public engagement and accelerate project delivery and evaluation.” Meanwhile, Knight Foundation director for community and national strategy Benjamin de la Peña said: “Cities can invite more of their citizens to help shape their communities. The Tactical Urbanism Workshops and the Manual will open up new channels of civic engagement.”

With a Knight Foundation grant, the Better Block Foundation aims to make your city even better

In over 100 projects, Team Better Block (TBB), the organization that works directly with cities to realize large-scale placemaking initiatives, helps make your great city even better. Now, thanks to a $775,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Dallas-based organization will be better able to serve cities and the people who make them. The January grant, meted out in installments, allowed TBB to create the Better Block Foundation (BBF), a nonprofit arm of for-profit TBB. Founder Jason Roberts explained that the grant will help both entities grow and support each other mutually. Roberts clarified that, while Better Block solutions like bike lane, plaza, and pop-up business recipes are "an open-source operating system, like Linux," free and open for all to use, TBB installs Better Block solutions for a fee. He and co-founder Andrew Howard realized a need for the foundation when TBB went worldwide. "We didn't have the bandwidth, so we needed the non-profit model. The nonprofit will help other folks do these things," he told AN. Things like transforming underutilized spaces, building workforce capacity, and cultivating vacant land. The program is expanding its staff to include a managing director, architect, project manager, and creating an internship program. Howard will manage TBB, while Roberts, who enjoys research and development, is directing the foundation. The BBF includes a human capacity-building component, as well. Civic leaders, elected officials, developers, and others "passionate about the built environment" will be able to meet architects, planners, and designers to discuss solutions for their cities' public spaces. Additionally, the foundation will build capacity to collect data and performance metrics before and after a Better Block project is installed. "We haven't had a chance to document that piece," Roberts reflected. "The foundation can focus on impact." This year, the BBF and TBB are planning the WikiBlocks project for the city of St. Paul. In collaboration with neighborhood groups, they'll install parklets, flowerbeds, and cafe seating from cutout designs whose plans are free to download and assemble. TBB is teaming up with the digital fabrication studio at Kent State University to create the prototypes for the project: In about three months, the early models will be developed. TBB knows how local culture manifests itself in and through the built environment, and that drawing on that ethos is key to building strong neighborhoods. Right now, TBB is using one site to turn around a struggling neighborhood in Akron, Ohio, and posing the question in reverse: how could culture express itself in an individual house? Working with refugees from Bhutan, in collaboration with the International Institute, the Bhutan Cultural Association, and a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Akron, the team is transforming a dilapidated house in the North Hill neighborhood into The Exchange House, an Airbnb youth hostel managed by the émigrés. Refugees sponsored by the State Department are indebted to the government: refugees have to pay back their plane ticket. Consequently, they're expected to find work, but language and cultural barriers can make that difficult. Running the hostel will provide an opportunity for cultural exchange, help refugees earn money, and build English language skills, as well as revitalize a neighborhood that has excess housing and infrastructural capacity. The partners hope to "stamp North Hill as an international neighborhood." There's 11 months left on the project, and demolition on the interior is progressing apace. Sai Sinbondit (of Cleveland-based Bialosky + Partners Architects) is the lead architect. A market, garden, and community resource center will round out the hostel's program.

The Center for Active Design asks: How do you promote civic engagement through design?

With help from a $1.8 million Knight Foundation grant, the Center for Active Design (CAD) today announced the release of "Design Guidelines for Robust Engagement," a guide that will promote design strategies cities can use to build civic engagement. The center fosters health in communities by turning health research into actionable designs for neighborhoods and buildings. "Design Guidelines" builds upon "Active Design Guidelines," a previous publication that provides a framework for promoting health and wellness for city residents. CAD believes that civic participation is one aspect of a city's health. In turn, residents who feel connected to the places they live are more likely to participate in local politics, take ownership of public spaces, and identify with a collective civic mission that encourages overall well-being. The researchers will analyze private and public spaces in select Knight communities to qualify what makes these spaces pleasant and successful (or not). Executive director Joanna Frank will lead a talk today at SXSW Eco, a sustainability conference in Austin, Texas, to lay out the design guidelines and their potential impact on city spaces.

James Corner Field Operations unveils initial plans for The Underline, a 10-mile linear park in Miami

It has become common fair to refer to any and all rails-to-trails project as a certain city’s “High Line. ” (Yup, we've been guilty of that too.) The ubiquitous High Line comparison might be flattering, but it's obviously too simplistic. It glosses over site-specific details and rings a bit too New York–centric. With that said, it would be best to mention Miami’s planned 10-mile (non-elevated) park without namechecking the gold standard up north. But the Magic City is really asking for it with this one. First, it is called “The Underline." And second, High Line co-designer James Corner Field Operations has been tapped to oversee it. Field Operations and Friends of the Underline recently unveiled conceptual renderings of the linear park which runs underneath the city's elevated Metrorail. The plan envisions two pathways—one for cyclists and one for pedestrians—that run through a network of small parks, seating areas, and kiosks. In this sense, the Underline is designed to be a transportation corridor, less like the High Line and more like Chicago’s recently opened 606. Curbed Miami reported that "Landscaping, consisting of low-maintenance native species, would be divided into ecosystems reflective of South Florida's natural setting: a pine rocklands, hardwood hammocks, and wet prairies." The exposed concrete supports underneath the Metrorail tracks would also be used as mile markers and, in some sections, canvasses for murals. The Real Deal reported that Friends of the Underline hopes to eventually fund the project with a mix of private and public donations. In the meantime, the project continues to garner interest—and financial support. This week, ArtPlace America—a national non-profit that supports arts initiative—announced that the project had been selected for a $200,000 grant. This money will go into the planning process, and follows a recent $250,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.

Architects and artists want to turn this vacant Detroit home into a community opera house

Detroit's 90,000 vacant homes and residential lots have proven to be fertile ground for artistic exploration, giving rise to verdant floral installations and canvases for sought-after graffiti artists. Now architects and artists from The D and beyond hope to turn an abandoned property at 1620 Morrell Street into something truly surprising. Dubbed House Opera | Opera House, the project aims to turn a decrepit, 2,000-square-foot house into a public performance space “where Detroiters could tell stories through music,” according to a Mitch McEwen, the project's principal architect. She spoke to WDET for their story, “From Blight to Stage Right”:
It evolved from a small group of artists in New York to a large group of folks across the country … neighbors have started to talk about performances or people in their families who perform that might get involved. And so we've really expanded from an immediate, emergency kind of dialogue to one that's about culture and talent that's already in the neighborhood, and how it can have a stage there at the House Opera.
McEwen bought the two-story home for just $1,200 in a public auction, paid off its delinquent property taxes, and got to work raising money for its second act. So far the project has received financial support from Graham FoundationKnight FoundationTaubman College – University of Michigan, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, as well as numerous individual benefactors including Mark Gardner, Theaster Gates and Dr. Larry Weiss.