Thursday, January 31, 2008

No choice?

Another glorious piece by Mr. Kunstler commenting on the finer aspects of our wonderful culture (or lack there of). Here is a taste of what is in store for you:

What remains for now is a terrible grandiose inertia among people who really ought to know better: our culture leaders. The cutting edge has become a blunt instrument unsuited to fashioning the patterns of the future. Everything we do from now on will have to be finer in scale, quality, and character. Exercises in irony will no longer be appreciated because there will no longer be a premium paid for declaring ourselves to be ridiculous. The localism of the future will not be a matter of fashion. It will be in the food we eat and the air we breathe, and we’d better start paying attention.

Also, since we are on the subject of Mr. Kunstler, he has as his "Eyesore of the Month"a much loved local sign post. I think it was reported in the Free Times, but I'll be a bit late and post the link anyways. Plus, tomorrow is a new month! Enjoy.

L.S. Moore


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Are you kidding me?

Anyone who has had the pleasure of walking the future Euclid Corridor from Public Square towards Playhouse Square may have noticed the addition of a few pieces of signage within the past few days.

Talk about ridiculous. While I'm sure the battle to find appropriate places, and sizes, for signage along state routes is one that is hard to fight, why both trying to build a pedestrian and bike friendly, 230 million dollar, brand new transit corridor nicely when you are only going to litter it with signage sized for 65 mile an hour highway traffic (maybe they're going to raise the speed limit to 65 mph, in which case I guess I'm the jerk...).

The picture included with this post, taken this morning (01.16.08), shows the new highway signage located at the intersection of E.4th and Euclid. Is there some off-ramp schedule to plow through the gateway district right onto E.4th? Why in the world would you need to locate a highway sign at the intersection of 4th and Euclid. Especially considering you are a mere few hundred feet from Ontario where there should be directional highway signage. Even more confusing is the fact that as you head east from Ontario to E.9th, there is not one street you would want to take as a shortcut to get to the highway.

The signage, clearly, should be at the intersection of E. 9th and Euclid....oddly enough there is signage there...and it is probably only 1/4 the size of what has been placed at E.4th. I'm sure those who paid for the streetscape study for E.4th will be particularly pleased with this solution to visually overpowering their wonderful (realizing taste is subjective) gateways.

Who is supposed to be keeping an eye on this stuff to make sure things get coordinated so that you don't have a ridiculously scaled sign in a ridiculous location? And I suppose now that it has already been installed on the brand new Euclid Corridor posts, who has the ability to see that the problem is corrected; or at least not repeated?

Considering the massive amounts of private developmpent being triggered by the public dollars invested the Euclid Corridor, I am certainly not trying to suggest the project is not a great step in the right direction for the city of Cleveland. I'm only trying to suggest that when making these positives steps, a more careful attention to the details that separate a good enough streetscape from a great one will make the investments we see happening worth so much more. Demand and plan for the best, the people of Cleveland deserve it.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Temporarily Unbelievable

In an urban core abundant with vacant land, abandoned buildings, and frequently empty public spaces, it is often hard to view these spaces as assets to the community. While everyone has ideas for what kinds of buildings and spaces should be where, who should design them, and who should be permitted to inhabit them, it is not often we get to experiment with those thoughts in a real way. With all these empty and abandoned assets, I find it quite remarkable experimentation with public space and the built environment has not seemingly found a larger role.

Recently, Pop Up Cleveland, an initiative founded by Terry Schwarz, has received funding from the Civic Innovation Lab, the Sears Swet-land Foundation, and additional support from Kent State University’s CUDC. Attempting to create “temporary events and installations that occupy vacant buildings and activate vacate land in ways that shine a spotlight on some of Cleveland’s spectacular but underutilized properties”, this initiative has a real opportunity to contribute to the establishment of a new culture of experimentation here in Cleveland.

I love the fact that Terry has set out to reclaim this once vibrant space, even if only for a night, and create something so peculiarly fantastic that people will once again be forced, or should I said invited, to experience The Flats East Bank. The evening has every opportunity to benefit all vested interests in the site; from the developers, to area residents, to visitors, potential future residents/retailers, vagabonds, and most certainly the Hustler Club dancers, that have likely not scene that area of the site flood with visitors in....ever.

While the evening will certainly benefit the developers (as it absolutely should) through the re-exposure of their project site to the community, the most important benefit will hopefully be me (as it absolutely needs to). Well not realllyyy me, but me in a different, less obvious (and grammatically correct) sense of the word me… (or should I use generally “us”). Anyone who has sat at Shooters on a Sunday evening in the summer and watched the sunset cast a beautifully depressing orange glow over the empty Flats East Bank will at least appreciate the evening for its temporary habitation of an area once flooded with visitors. The city deserves evenings/events like this...hopefully through the successful execution of Leap Night, the city will have yet another creative and collaborative process for activating its vacant urban assets...

Not to mention it is going to be damn cool to see an orchard of dead Christmas trees…anyone have Tim Burtons email? He should be invited…

I would encourage everyone to check out the website,, and definitely email ideas/concerns via the website.