Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fritz Haeg Lecture at CIA - Monday, March 31st

Fritz Haeg
Monday, March 31
7pm, Aitken Auditorium
Gund Building
CIA, 11141 East Boulevard

Lecture is free and open to the public

As a part of Cleveland Institute of Art's 2008 Kacalieff Lecture Series "Tomorrow & Tomorrow & Tomorrow..." Fritz Haeg will be speaking at CIA tomorrow evening at 7pm. As CIA describes: "Like a contemporary Buckminster Fuller, Fritz Haeg is known as an architect, designer, educator, curator, artist ---- visionary. Although he is about to break ground on the Jones High Desert Residence in Joshua Tree, his current preferred architectural clients are animals. Haeg is introducing prototypical regional model homes as dwellings for a variety of animals that have been displaced through loss of natural habitat and other human interventions through his work known as "Animal Estates."


Monday, March 24, 2008

Settler's Landing II

Settler's Landing and Heritage Park, Cleveland Flats:

birds' eye today

birds' eye tomorrow

just for kicks.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pop-Up Storefront Cleveland?

Between April 11th and May 17th, the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York will install their first "Pop-Up Storefront" in Los Angeles, exhibiting "CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed," featuring work by French photographer Frederic Chaubin.

Throughout the year, the Storefront will pop up in cities around the world to host exhibits for a limited time only. As described on their website, they "will avoid the conventional gallery format by temporarily taking over unoccupied spaces in unexpected neighborhoods, to exhibit and discuss pressing topics in art and architecture..."

In April, Pop-up Storefront will make an appearance at the Milan Furniture Fair in Milan, Italy, and in June at the London Festival of Architecture in London, England. Other locations are yet to be announced.

Why not Cleveland?

Of related interest, Storefront's mission statement has some relevence to what emerging Cleveland architects hope to establish in this town through the efforts of Launch Cleveland (website soon to come, in the meantime, visit

"Founded in 1982, Storefront for Art and Architecture is a nonprofit organization committed to the advancement of innovative positions in architecture, art and design. Our program of exhibitions, artists talks, film screenings, conferences and publications is intended to generate dialogue and collaboration across geographic, ideological and disciplinary boundaries. As a public forum for emerging voices, Storefront explores vital issues in art and architecture with the intent of increasing awareness of and interest in contemporary design."


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mission Statement for the City of Cleveland

In case the image doesn't load properly, the sign carrying the City of Cleveland seal reads: "THE CITY OF CLEVELAND MISSION STATEMENT: We are committed to improving the quality of life in the City of Cleveland by strengthening our neighborhoods, delivering superior services, embracing the diversity of our citizens, and making Cleveland a desirable, safe city in which to live, work, raise a family, shop, study, play, and grow old."

While I can't say I've noticed this Mission Statement posted in other locations around Cleveland (and I first noticed this one today after unknowingly walking past it daily for the last year), I find humor in the placement of this sign: at the entrance to a city-owned parking lot under the Veterans Memorial Bridge in the Flats - an inconspicuous location at one of the $1 lots in which there is no immediately adjacent housing, shopping, or industry. This location does, however, find itself a few steps away from the poorly maintained Heritage Park I (in which the Lorenzo Carter cabin can be found), where scrub foliage grows around the historic northern outlet of the Ohio-Erie Canal at the river's edge, fencing around the Carter cabin has fallen into disrepair, and a hole in the boardwalk is patched over with a large street sign.

While its location is a bit ironic, I am most interested in the statement's modest and obvious goals (though likely somewhat typical for civic mission statements). We should see this explicit statement placed on the City of Cleveland homepage, outside City Hall, at prominent cultural and entertainment locations, in its neighborhoods, and on City of Cleveland letterhead. While the future of this City may be stronger with the addition of casinos, convention centers, medical marts, and stadiums, there must be a constant reminder of the daily progress of improving the quality of everyday life in the City for Cleveland that has to occur for the City to be a desirable place for anyone to want to live, work, and play.

The City of Cleveland Mission Statement can be found under the Veteran's Memorial Bridge at the entrance to a City-owned parking lot in the Flats (Google Maps link).


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Time to Revisit and Refine Plans for the Lakefront Before its Too Late

At Friday's Cleveland Planning Commission meeting, city planners approved demolition permits for the remaining Flats East Bank buildings along Old River Road and also approved plans to move Cleveland's port from north and west of Browns' stadium to land east of Burke Lakefront Airport.

While both items were discreet presentations to the Planning Commission, they should be considered in some regards to be intimately related. Specifically, as plans for the Flats East Bank are refined and presented to the City of Cleveland, land being developed north of the freight railroad should be considered as an important precedent for the future development of the surrounding port property.

While my concern has been voiced at and as a response to Steve Litt's weblog post (and subsequently re-posted below), I found it interesting and important to compare Eaton's proposed site within a reconstructed RTA Waterfront loop to the existing configuration of the site as well as the current Lakefront Plan as prepared by the Cleveland Planning Commission.

It is time for the City's plans to be revisited at this portion of the lakefront so that one corporation's move doesn't negatively impact the viability and accessibility of future development and public amenities or set a precedent for similar narrowly conceived developments. The images below illustrate the significant (and sprawling) footprint that the Eaton campus has along the lakefront and its encroachment on existing plans.


flats east bank plan

lakefront plan

lakefront plan and flats plan overlay


Bravo Mr. Litt for grabbing a few digital photos of the ongoing development of the Flats East Bank site plan at today’s Planning Commission meeting!

I share the same concern about the Eaton precedent. It appears that the preliminary site plan situates Eaton within an expanded RTA loop connected to the existing street grid with a couple of campus access roads to parking lots and what looks like a pedestrian bridge over the railway.
There is no suggestion of how the remaining lakefront north of the tracks should be developed other than Wasserman’s ‘vision’ of extending the downtown grid to the lake and the City’s lakefront plan which has seemingly dissolved in recent years (the current lakefront plan as published on the City Planning Commission website shows a compact RTA loop as “Mixed-Use Residential” adjacent to several blocks of orthagonal streetgrid framed by a riverwalk and picnic meadow).

There NEEDS to be a master plan, land use diagram, or form-based code that is developed in conjunction with Eaton’s move. Already, a large portion of the lakefront real estate at the river’s mouth is dedicated to Eaton’s campus after the expanded RTA loop with ZERO concern as to what this prime “public” lakefront will become after the port’s move. This development creates an even larger barrier between downtown, the flats development, and the lakefront. Its as though Chagrin Highlands has landed on our waterfront!

This is a complete betrayal to the people of Cleveland if Eaton’s move is not considered within larger plans for the future lakefront. Whether or not the lakefront north of the tracks is dedicated to contiguous parkland and recreation, a new residential neighborhood, waterfront destinations and entertainment, or even corporate campuses, the City of Cleveland needs to clarify a vision for the lakefront before companies carve up their pieces of the waterfront as Sherwin Williams and now Eaton have.

As Litt suggests, Wolstein is holding the plans close. However, as significant as the public investment is in making this project happen on a lakefront promised to the people of Cleveland, there needs to be a public dialogue on how Eaton fits into concrete plans for the future lakefront. More specifically, the land north of the tracks between the mouth of the river and Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Evil Flows Through Public Square

While many of us viewed the Public Square disaster this week from local news video taken from helicopters above, distant photos of the site in the Plain Dealer, or from a bus window safely behind caution tape marking off Public Square, I had suspicions that something much more 'evil' was behind all of this.

Why the sudden collapse of a street after total reconstruction just last year? Why did Mayor Jackson suggest that offices close early on Friday? Why hasn't there been follow-up footage of the site? And why will it take several weeks to re-open the Square to traffic?

I took a digital camera with me to Ontario and Superior and was surprised by what I captured (see below)...

After doing intensive research on, it seems that this isn't the first time this has happened. In New York City in 1989, several ghost hunters found a river of 'mood slime' that fed on negative emotions and released spirits around the city. After some analysis, these ghost hunters found that a great deal of sustained negative energy in New York at the time must have generated a flow of slime that was akin to pure concentrated evil.

Messrs. Stantz, Zeddemore, Venkman, and Spengler have determined that the only way to combat this infestation of slimey spirits is by: 1. tracing the river's origins (in New York it led to a portrait at the Manhattan Museum of Art); 2. playing Jackie Wilson's "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Higher" really loud; 3. inspiring the people of the city to be overcome by joy and love...


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Coming Soon, The New Cleveland Flats

Final notes in Thursday's PD article about the proposal for Cleveland port's move add that, "the commission's meeting agenda also includes a review of requests to raze buildings north of the Main Avenue bridge on the Flats east bank..."

After Friday's Leap Night celebration, it looks like the remaining East Bank buildings will finally fall and the construction of streets and utilities will begin. The demolition request and master plan update will be a "Special Presentation" item at March 7th's Planning Commission meeting (9am in City Hall, Room 514).

(Image above shows Flats East Bank from the west prior to initial demolitions)