Sunday, December 31, 2006

Postcards of Cities' Past

This year's holiday season was the first our family celebrated without my grandmother. At last week's family Christmas, the last of her effects were offered to the family before headed to the trash. Among the display of books, jewelry and knickknacks was a sizable pile of mid-century postcards from a variety of American cities. In addition to providing a snapshot of the landmarks of Detroit, Cleveland, Nashville, Miami, Washington DC, and Chicago, many cards were the medium of war-time correspondence between my grandparents.

Below are a few city postcards among many dozens saved from the trash. A few card descriptions are quoted below:

"The Terminal Tower, Cleveland's newest skyscraper, towers 708 feet above the street level and is fifty-two stories high. It is a Ninety Million dollar project." (1939)

"This night scene depicts part of the one hundred and fifty million dollar Terminal development. The Tower is over seven hundred feet above the Union Station concourse level. An observation room, on the 42nd floor, is open to visitors." (1943)

"Busy Hotel Avenue from 17th and Collins, looking South to 10th Street."

"Bird's-eye view of downtown Chicago. Soaring pinnacles and lofty towers - symbolic of the soaring ambitions and lofty ideals which make Chicago truly the City Beautiful." (1943)

I suspect that many of these snapshots of war-time American cities don't represent most of the same fascinations of these cities today. In Cleveland, current postcards capture Gateway, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the towers of Public Square - how will tomorrow's postcards illustrate the Cleveland of the future?


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cleveland Design Competition

This past week, messages have arrived in inboxes and discussion has occured on the Clevo-web for an annual Cleveland Design Competition... the inaugural design challenge will be launched in January for the Riverbed hillside at Irish Town Bend:

> From an architecture thread at UrbanOhio

> From Rockitecture

> From Improvised Schema

email to get on the mailing list for upcoming updates


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Euclid Corridor Streetscape

Above and below are images of recently installed streetlamps along the under-construction Euclid Corridor project (within the Quadrangle). While I applaud the attempt at placing contemporary fixtures along the Avenue, its unfortunate to see a design with fake-functional parts (note the "pivot" where the pole and fixture meet and the "counter-tension" that pretends to hold the lamp in place). The choice of lamp could have still been clean and contemporary without the unnecessary "mechanical" components.

Euclid Avenue, connecting research institutions, medical campuses, performing arts venues, and a planned "district of design" commands beautiful, contemporary, technologically-advanced street objects. In a rare opportunity to replace system-wide infrastructure and lighting, the first of Euclid's street objects I suspect, does not exhibit an advanced application - solar-powered lighting or adaptation of the SmartEnergy Spirals (or other alternative energies) to power the streetlights, electronic communicating ballasts (to dim lamps intelligently for significant electricity savings), leveraging the new infrastructure to monitor environmental data (temperature, humidity, air pollution, noise sensors along the street), or showcasing an alternative to the orange-yellow high pressure sodium lamps.

Fortunately, the system-wide update of the street infrastructure may provide the capacity for showcasing technology on the street in the near future, since it appears the Euclid Corridor streetscape project is primarily focusing on overcoming cosmetic inconsistencies and obsolescence.


Friday, December 08, 2006

CT Gallery of Architecture and Design

Only steps away from a razed Cleveland Trust Tower on the north side of Euclid Avenue, the new CT Center of Architecture and Design, Cleveland's first architecture center, gallery, and lecture forum (within proposed Cleveland District of Design), assembled from discarded Cleveland Trust panels.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cleveland Trust Facade Study

"Cleveland Trust Tower Part 542 - Facade Study" from Toi Studio Blog. Note the use of additional materials cast as panels and integrated into the existing precast concrete curtain wall.

HOME House Project Panel Discussion

HOME House Project Reception & Panel Discussion

On Wednesday, December 6th attend a reception at the Cleveland Institute of Art's Reinberger Gallery (11141 East Boulevard) to see the HOME House Project's traveling exhibit of 100 unique, sustainable, affordable housing designs and to hear from a panel of practitioners.

Steve Litt, Art and Architecture critic for The Plain Dealer, will moderate a panel of designers and nonprofit and for-profit builders on the topic of making Cleveland housing greener, cheaper, smaller, and better.

The reception starts at 5:00 p.m. with the discussion at 6:00 p.m.

SPONSORS: Cleveland Green Building Coalition, Cleveland Housing Network, Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition, Cleveland Public Art, EcoCity Cleveland, Enterprise Community Partners, Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, Kent State University's Urban Design Center for Northeast Ohio, Neighborhood Progress Inc., ParkWorks, Shorebank Cleveland.

Image and text courtesy of Cleveland Public Art. HOME House previously discussed prior to gallery opening here.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Cleveland Trust Panel Objects

(Images above posted with permission from the fella at Toi Studio and his post "At least reuse some of the dang thing! - Cleveland Trust Tower part 538.")

While the County has determined the Cleveland Trust Tower abhorrent and unmanagable, the building could find success in rebirth as... a bus shelter?

I find it incredible that opportunities for the panels' reuse are seemingly infinite, yet the panels' use or adaptation in a new County administration headquarters has been decided by commissioners as impossible and undesirable. Either this reveals a highly specific limitation of the modular concrete panel or suggests an uninspired and regressive Cuyahoga County.