Sunday, April 15, 2007

Redesigning Cleveland One Month at a Time

When you aren't busy completing your Cleveland Design Competition submission for the site at Irishtown Bend (see the previous Design Rag post), visit reDesign Cleveland's new webpage for the results of their first-ever monthly design charrette. The design charrettes focus small design challenges at several Cleveland buildings and sites with the primary goal of re-imagining Cleveland "for Cleveland's sake."

The web-only charrettes are open to all and can be participated in anonymously or with recognition. Because reDesign is in a blog-based format, each submission can be commented on by participants and observers alike. See the webpage for more details about each challenge.

The March charrette examined the old May Company parking structure at Ontario and Prospect in Downtown Cleveland. One of the submissions (shown above) is described as follows:

"The redesign proposal uses the concrete structure of the garage as a scaffolding for a vertical garden landscape. The southern facade features ornamental planters suspended in rows with vegetation of increasing height, from native grasses to flowering shrubs to hardy urban trees, while the western exposure is shaded by columns of climbing vines. When available, rainwater would be recovered in a cistern at the upper garage level and channeled down to irrigate the plants. The daily and weekly parking cycles become re-framed in the new context of the natural seasons of the garden."

April's charrette is soliciting possible solutions for a bridge replacement at Columbus Road Bridge over the Cuyahoga River. The deadline for submitting is April 30th (thanks to Dru at TOI Studio who is "giddy with excitement").


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Inaugural Cleveland Design Competition

Last chance to participate in the design of Irishtown Bend and compete in the 2007 Cleveland Design Competition.
Deadlines for the first annual international design competition in Cleveland are rapidly approaching. The Cleveland Design Competition registration deadline is next Monday, April 16th and the submission deadline is Tuesday, May 1st.
This year's underutilized urban site is located between West 25th Street in the Ohio City historic neighborhood and the Cuyahoga River's edge in the industrial Flats. Complicated for several reasons, physically (soils shifting, topography change, and un-reinforced shoreline) and politically (shared by two neighborhood groups, contains an archaeological site, has been targeted for potential port traffic, and has been suggested for the placement of a multi-purpose trail), "Irishtown Bend" is located between Downtown, Cleveland's historic neighborhoods, and active industry.
Taken from the competition overview: "From the site's vantage along the edge of Cleveland's Industrial Flats, photographer Margaret Bourke-White captured the dominance of industry over a rapidly rising American city. Today, the same perspective reveals a complex urban history of unparalleled industrial growth, rapid abandonment, evolving patterns of immigration, wealth, poverty, and the rise of a rich rust-belt city follow by decades of decline and urban decay."
Cleveland Design Competition is looking for creative ideas for the pivotal Irishtown Bend site. Solutions may include architectural design, engineering, landscape design, planning, or artistic interventions. Check out the competition objectives or the competition brief document for more details. The competition requires pre-registration, but is open to everybody.
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is the lead sponsor for the competition awards. First Prize is $2000, Second Prize is $1000, and Third Prize is $500.
Project 2007's partners and sponsors include: Cleveland Public Art, Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, Cleveland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Ohio City Near West, Flats Oxbow Association, Forum Architects, and Process Creative Studio.
Read the article "Cleveland Competition to Focus on Neglected Sites" published in the March issue of ARCHITECT Magazine.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Cleveland's Recent Past is "Immediately Endangered!"

The Recent Past Preservation Network has declared Marcel Breuer's Cleveland Trust Tower as "Immediately Endangered!"

The Recent Past Preservation Network is "a valuable resource for building public education and awareness of an often misunderstood and underappreciated era of design. We generally define the recent past as a moving window of approximately fifty years time. Specifically, we cover those buildings that are not considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because the structures are less than fifty years old. These are the very buildings and landscapes that need the most protection."
RPPN also has a great page of resources and methods for taking action to prevent the demolition of the structures of our recent past. This page includes guidelines for nominating properties that have achieved significance within the past fifty years, points of economic impacts for preservation and reuse, petition writing and online hosting, case studies, and much much more.
(photo courtesy of Mark Satola as published on RPPN)

Sam Miller Throws Down the Gauntlet - Reform Cleveland Government

Sam Miller, Cleveland business man and philanthropist, has been featured recently in local news criticizing failed pursuit of regional action in Cleveland.

Watch Tom Beres at WKYC interview Sam Miller here.

Does it take the challenge of an exasperated 85-year-old Cleveland business man and philanthropist before anyone takes the time to seriously consider metro-Cleveland government reform seriously? Sam has been interviewed many times over the last several weeks, but will his criticism of an inefficient and ineffective government resonate?

Though Sam states that he has "no ax to grind," and that may be partially true, the opinions of the City's business leaders are the most important to pay attention to. It IS economic prosperity and a climate for entreprenuership that will resurrect this town. I am not confident that a vision for change will come from government leaders who's positions are defunct and should be disintigrated.

Several passionate statements from Miller's interview:

"'Regionalism', to me, doesn't mean a thing. What I'm talking about is 'Countyism.'"

"Why should Cuyahoga County have 1500-some school buses for 31 separate school districts? Why should Cuyahoga County have 489 council members? Why should there be 50-60 different fire departments, fire chiefs, police departments, police chiefs? Do you have any idea what kind of money I'm talking about??"

"How do you attract business to a community? One of the most important items, aside from skilled labor is taxes."

"We have in affect today, a government in Cuyahoga County that was structured for a million people in the City of Cleveland, and we have the same government trying to do the same work for 475,000 people. It can't work!"

"You don't have to invent a new system! Copy a successful [government]. Columbus is one, Minneapolis is another..."

"We're tired, we've given up, we've lost faith in ourselves."

"Oh, legacies, I don't give a damn about legacies! I've got enough buildings named after me. I care about this town!"

"I throw the gauntlet out to this whole town. Do you want to watch it die?"


Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Vote for the Cleveland Trust Tower

Crain's Cleveland Business is polling the public regarding their thoughts on what should be done with the Cleveland Trust Tower. So if you have a brief moment and/or wish to be apart of the relative pointlessness that is an online poll, please vote to save the tower.

L.S. Moore


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Alternative Trans-Atlantic Transport

In my cyber-travels I happened upon a unique way of traversing the oceans of the world, the freighter. For those of us who are slaving away in the architecture profession, it may be beyond our reach, both financially and temporally. However, if you wish the train could take you to Europe, you have a fear of flying, or would just like to take a cruise without two lobsters at every meal and romantic horse back rides through the jungle, then here is your alternative: Freighter World

(Much to my surprise, you can catch these ships right here in Cleveland)

Hoping your sea legs are ready,
L.S. Moore


Sunday, April 01, 2007

From the Commissioners' Chambers

Thursday, March 29th marked the Commissioners' official vote on the fate of the Marcel Breuer-designed Cleveland Trust Tower. An agenda item requesting that the County's Department of Central Services advertise for bids for the abatement and demolition of several of the buildings on the County-owned property, including the 29-story tower, required that the Commissioners make a vote on whether the Tower should be reused or razed. The vote went 2-1 in favor of demolishing the Tower.

While the public attendance was strong, only six individuals spoke due to the public comment book closing at 11:30 sharp (many speakers streamed into the meeting after the book was 'closed' to public comment). Several AIA members were in attendance - Anthony Hiti, chair of the Historic Preservation Committee thoroughly described AIA's positions on the issue.

After public comment (in which Dimora interrupted at least once to argue that the speaker was "lying"), each Commissioner stated their position. Peter Lawson-Jones spoke eloquently about his method for evaluating several factors that weigh important in this particular decision. His "decision matrix" was composed of factors such as design, efficiency, sustainability, and economics. After measuring each of the factors, he explained, he arrived at a decision to re-use the tower. The most compelling reasons were: saving energy from demolition and material from landfill, utilizing federal and state tax credits, the opportunity to showcase designs of several eras on the same site, small floorplates may require internal stairs and creative 'grouping' of departments, and saving costs to strengthen social programs.

After Lawson-Jones spoke (and drew a sustained applause), Hagan and Dimora each summarized their decision in fewer than five minutes combined. Hagan was convinced that architect Madison would leave the public a building that would be widely admired befitting of Cleveland architecture hero, Robert P. Madison. Hagan failed to note that the design will be a mark of New York firm Kohn Pederson Fox, not that of Robert P. Madison International. Mr. Dimora simply disagreed with many of Lawson-Jones points about saving cash in the short term and long term (without justification) and put his confidence behind consultants who arrived at a decision to tear the tower down. Dimora even cited the six architecture firms who competed for the County Administration project by pointing out that five of six firms proposed demolishing the Tower. Like Hagan, Dimora failed to note that the County 'encouraged' each design team to demolish the Tower prior to their design submission.

Marc Lefkowitz further summarizes the meeting and includes several quotes by Commissioners Lawson-Jones, Hagan, and Dimora and architect Robert Madison at