Cleveland Leads with Slime Mold Tactics

Cleveland is a lot like slime mold.  At least that’s how Holly Harlan, founder of the local non-profit Entrepreneurs for Sustainability (E4S), compliments our city*.  And what a compliment!

Slime mold cells have the ability to move around as they please and follow one another’s chemical traces, much like ants.  When presented with conditions unfavorable for growth or survival, slime mold cells swarm together and fuse into a single enormous cell containing thousands of nuclei.

If this slime mold “blob”—called the plasmodium—begins to dry out too quickly or is starved, it creates body armor for itself by transforming into a hard, dry mass called a sclerotium.  The armored mass protects the dormant cells inside until better conditions for growth return.

What Harlan meant by relating Cleveland to slime mold is that when faced with adversity, Clevelanders join together for stronger survival tactics (I can’t help but think of Russell Crowe telling the other gladiators to fight as one here).

Read more…


Artists vs. Blight

037-bridgemix-10-10-08Art installation at Bridge Mix, photo by Stephen Piscura

The CUDC’s Pop Up City initiative, Arts Collinwood and other Cleveland arts organizations were highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article about artist communities developing in blighted neighborhoods.  Although there’s nothing new about artists moving into low-rent areas, the recent foreclosure crisis is motivating communities to increase incentives for artists: 

Drawn by available spaces and cheap rents, artists are filling in some of the neighborhoods being emptied by foreclosures. City officials and community groups seeking ways to stop the rash of vacancies are offering them incentives to move in, from low rents and mortgages to creative control over renovation projects.

Some of the local organizations mentioned in the article include:

Arts Collinwood :: Collinwood

78th St. Studios :: Detroit Shoreway

ArtMart 09 :: Ohio City

DanceWorks @ CPT :: Detroit Shoreway

Pop Up City

Building Bridges

ArtSpace Cleveland

Also check out this set of Collinwood photos from the Plain Dealer.

by david jurca


Shrinking Flint

hacked-houseCleveland hacked-house rendering by Gauri Torgalkar, CUDC

The New York Times recently posted an article on how Flint, Michigan is planning to deal with its city’s depopulation and vacancy by demolishing entire neighborhoods. The idea is that speeding up the process of decline in certain sections of the city will consolidate any housing demand that remains into a few viable areas.

Housing demolition as a reaction to vacancy is occurring in Cleveland as well.  The City is currently planning to remove 2,000 homes this year. Not only will most of the embodied energy of these structures be lost in a landfill, but the fabric of the neighborhoods will also be forever changed.  Can the abandoned structures still be used as urban greenhouses or biocellars? What sort of neighborhoods are we creating if we add 2,000 new voids a year?  Could these new acres of land be put to productive use? 

by david jurca


Pop Up City Eye Candy

Pick up a copy of our new publication!  When we get smarter, we’ll put a little PayPal icon somewhere around here so that you can buy our stuff instantly!  The possibilities are endless!  Until then, you can pick a book up at the CUDC office (currently above the Winking Lizard on Prospect/Huron downtown) or at CUDC events.












by Marianne Eppig


EarthFest 2009


Today is EarthFest!  Go to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo today anytime between 10am and 5pm and you will be treated to Ohio’s largest environmental education event and the longest running Earth Day Celebration in the NATION.

If you missed the Walk or Bike for the Earth, then you can still ride the FREE RTA Clean-Air Bus that runs from Public Square to the Zoo – and you get free admission if you do.  Also, bring a plastic grocery bag to recycle and you can exchange it for a reusable bag!

To find out more about the event and the 160+ environmental exhibits for climate change solutions, visit earthdaycoalition.org!

by marianne eppig.


Green City Blue Lake on Pop Up City

Last week Marc Lefkowitz, blog author extraordinaire for Green City Blue Lake, published a great post about Pop Up City and the Urban Design Center’s efforts to ignite (not literally) vacant spaces in Cleveland.

To read the post, visit http://www.gcbl.org/blog/marc-lefkowitz/counterculture-ignites-fallow-urban-space

In addition to giving our new publication, Pop Up City, a congenial review (“The essay and book is not only a fascinating read, it’s filled with eye candy”), Marc brought up some good points.  He asked towards the end of the post:

Will those seeds grow to inspire some Temporary Users to leave the protective circle of the CUDC?

In other words, he’s asking whether the Cleveland Urban Design Center’s Pop Up temporary events will inspire other groups and individuals around the city to start temporary uses of their own in otherwise abandoned lots.

For anyone out there who is reading this, we would love to hear back from you.  Leave a comment and let us know about your experiences, ideas, and events that were/are all about temporary uses of vacant spaces.

And for anyone who is interested in starting a temporary event or use of a vacant space in Cleveland, there is a handy brochure in the back of the recent Pop Up City publication titled “Temporary Use Advice & Contacts”.  It lets you know what kinds of permits you might need to get in order to use a space, and it’s also chock-full of advice from how to get sponsors to how many Port-O-Potties you may need.  So, if you haven’t already, pick up a book and start igniting (please, not literally) Cleveland!

by marianne eppig.


Pecha Kucha 3.0 + Fashion Week

Pecha Kucha Night 

Friday, May 8th 

8:20pm at MOCA 

If you haven’t been to the last two Pecha Kucha Nights, then you really should go and see what it’s all about. 

Pecha Kucha Night, devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham (Klein Dytham architecture), was conceived in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.
But as we all know, give a mike to a designer (especially an architect) and you’ll be trapped for hours. The key to Pecha Kucha Night is its patented system for avoiding this fate. Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each – giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.
Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for the sound of conversation) has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or chat up a magazine editor. This is a demand that seems to be global – as Pecha Kucha Night, without any pushing, has spread virally to over 100 cities across the world.  

7 Arts of Design 

Friday, April 24th   

5:00pm-8:00pm Jac’s on West 6th St.

Come celebrate the fusion of various local design communities including architecture, digital, fashion, graphic, industrial, interior, and mechanical design. This happy hour mixer, a part of Fashion Week Cleveland, is a great chance to get outside of our own particular disciplines and meet other Cleveland creatives. 

by david jurca 


Spring Studio ’09 :: Design Stories


The spring semester graduate studio at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative focused on the location of the current Port of Cleveland as its site for investigation. The students were asked to respond to the Cuyahoga County Port Authority’s RFQ (Request for Qualifications) released in December, which stated its interest in selecting a design firm,

“to develop a comprehensive master plan for an iconic and transformational redevelopment strategy for a portion of Cleveland’s downtown lakefront. This area is approximately 100 acres of industrial waterfront land, in public ownership, located between the mouth of the Cuyahoga River and the North Coast Harbor public venue and currently is used principally for commercial maritime activities.”

Read more…


Spring Studio ’09 :: Cleveland 2036: Great Lakes Exposition RE-DUX


Spring Studio ’09 :: Cleveland’s New Front Yard


Spring Studio ’09 :: Hybrid Topography


Spring Studio ’09 :: (d)WELL SPACE


Spring Studio ’09 :: Port Coexistence