04-25-17

The Student Perspective : CUBA

This year’s Spring Studio, The International Design Exchange (INDEX) Studio is a graduate design studio established to build an understanding of global urban issues.The studio explores strategies for urban regeneration revealed through a comparative analysis of Cleveland, Ohio and Havana, Cuba. The studio functions as a timely conduit for the exchange of ideas between the two cities. As part of the studio, four graduate students traveled to Cuba, during spring break, to strengthen the research and relationships established with architects and architecture students and the University of Havana. Two of the students, Reuben Shaw II and Randy Hoover, shared their experience and work with us. Here is their perspective:

Reuben Shaw II, Master of Landscape Architecture

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Cuba was never on my list of countries to visit. Stories about the taboos of the society and the government subconsciously blocked this island nation from my view. I’ve visited a few of the Caribbean Islands but still, Cuba was invisible. During my stay in Havana, I realized that Cuba was one of the most unique and beautiful places I have ever been, not only aesthetically, but culturally and socially. The proverb, “Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times” became a reality.

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Fanguito neighborhood in Havana, Cuba

While working on the Havana studio project in Cleveland, it was a challenge to really grasp our site with aerials; as landscape architecture students, most of our taught site-analysis techniques were void. Flying to Cuba and walking the streets of the Fanguito neighborhood really gave us a perspective that added to our repertoire. We discovered a sense of place that was generated by the people and an empirical expression of culture that you could only get by asking questions and adopting the lifestyle of the residents.

This opportunity to travel to Cuba was truly inspiring and has fueled my desire to travel and experience other cultures. I believe when you travel you learn as much about yourself as you do about the place. Knowledge of self not only enriches your being but that of the people around you.

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Proposed wetland preserve and aquatic bird habitat along the Almendares River in Havana, Cuba

Randy Hoover, Master of Architecture

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Five days is a short time in which one can be expected to engage with the unique cultural and economic values in a city like Havana, but I believe this trip was successful in that regard. Stepping out onto Cuban soil was not, as some of my friends back home predicted, like stepping back in time to a land where technology and science ceased to progress. Once you look past the aesthetic value of colorful old cars on the road you begin to see Cuba’s development over the last decades as an alternate timeline, similar to our own, where resources are more scarce but vitality and variety of life are never sacrificed.

(Now don’t get me wrong, riding from one side of Havana to the other in a candy-coated Pontiac is something that should be experienced by every visitor to the island.)

Our studio design/research project for the semester focused on an intervention near the Almendares River in El Vedado district of Havana. This land is known as the less affluent part of town and in every way but its social structure can be considered a slum. In order to operate from thousands of miles away with little on-site experience, our group focused on projective interventions that could be built by accretion and overlay of infrastructural services. By developing a simple self-built housing prototype that connected its infrastructure to a central square, we could game out the look of our neighborhood intervention in abstraction without bulldozing over the existing social and economic complexities of the neighborhood.

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Cuadriculita 008: The central concrete pad provides infrastructural connections for surrounding residents.

The realistic conditions of a site are, of course, more complex than what can be assumed from a satellite image or journal article. When we walked through the neighborhood of El Fanguito we were greeted by complete strangers with smiles and welcome conversation with our inquiring minds. Narrow alleyways and informal sidewalks contributed to a set of streetscapes that functioned almost identically to the winding paths we suggested in the Cuadriculita proposal, except of course that it was constructed with more care, personality, and efficiency. Once we walked out of the neighborhood and up the hill to a grand vista that overlooked all of the informal housing, my perspective of the project completely shifted.

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A small cluster of housing built against the peculiar topography separating El Fanguito from El Vedado.

I expected this moment, of course, but maybe not in such an instantaneous fashion. The infrastructural connections were not perfect in every way but formed its own artistry out of the imperfections. Overlap of aesthetics and use-value with the homes were most apparent with bright blue water storage barrels and pigeon cages on some of the rooftops feeding PVC piping down into the invisible pathways and living spaces below. Our project’s assertion that an interior courtyard or open space was required in order to have a vibrant and connected lifestyle for each resident was dissolved after seeing this.

This INDEX studio travel opportunity is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. I was able to meet Cuban architectural contemporaries, sample the passionate lifestyle of residents, and bond with my trip-mates in sharing this experience of infinite value. I’d like to thank David Jurca, the CUDC, and Kent State University for this amazing opportunity.

The INDEX: CLExHAV Studio is part of the 2017 Creative Fusion program supported by The Cleveland Foundation. During the 2017 Spring Semester, the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) will continue a partnership launched by Kent State University last year with Havana-based architects Sofía Márquez Aguiar and Ernesto Jiménez of Fábrica De Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory), a vibrant community arts space housed in a repurposed cooking oil plant in Havana. The architects will work with the KSU Urban Design and Landscape Architecture graduate studio and a Cleveland Institute of Art Interior Architecture studio on design proposals for two neighborhood projects: one in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, where Fábrica De Arte Cubano is located, and another in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood. In early April, Márquez Aguiar and Jiménez arrived in Cleveland to review the students’ design proposals for Vedado and will remain in Cleveland for one month as they work with students to generate and fabricate the project to be built in Glenville. A public Pop Up Event is scheduled at the Glenville site (1470 E. 105th, Cleveland) on Friday, May 5th from 6-9pm. All are welcome. Learn more and RSVP on the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/532579883796334/ 

04-24-17

We’re Hiring | Post Graduate Fellow (Urban Design)

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Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) has a one-year position available for recent graduates holding a Master’s degree in Architecture, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture, or Planning. Eligible candidates must have graduated from a graduate program in one of these fields in 2016 or 2017. This is a full-time position with benefits, available beginning on September 1, 2017 or after.

Job Responsibilities

  • Working on urban design and planning projects for community clients, under the direction of CUDC senior staff
  • Supporting the Making Our Own Space (MOOS) design/build initiative for middle- and high-school students
  • Developing research proposals
  • Assisting with the organization and logistics of the annual community design charrette in the fall of 2017
  • Participating in graduate-level design juries and advising graduate students on their Capstone projects
  • Other tasks as assigned by CUDC staff

 

The Fellow will also develop a project of his or her choice, to be completed during the fellowship year. Examples of past projects include:

  • Presenting design work and research on environmental psychology in urban design at a conference of the Association for Community Design
  • Developing climate resilient street sections, expanding upon the City of Cleveland’s Complete and Green Street Guidelines, as part of the CUDC’s neighborhood climate resilience initiative.

 

Other potential fellowship project ideas include:

  • Planning and deploying a temporary installation or event
  • Entering a design competition or creating a design competition
  • Curating an exhibition for the CUDC gallery
  • Presenting work at a conference
  • Organizing a lecture, workshop, or other events

 

The Fellow’s project will be developed with the full support of CUDC staff. Up to 10% of the Fellow’s time (four hours per week) will be devoted to his or her project.

Eligibility
The Fellowship position is available to any graduate of a Master’s degree in Architecture, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture, or Planning program who completed his or her degree in 2016 or 2017. The CUDC will select one Fellow from the pool of applicants.

Application Process
To be considered for the Post Graduate Fellowship, please submit:

  • Application through the Kent State University website: https://jobs.kent.edu/postings/13424/
  • Resume
  • Portfolio
  • Letter of intent – in 500 words or less, please describe why you are interested in working at the CUDC and outline your idea for an independent project to be completed during your fellowship year. Please note that you do not need to have a fully developed proposal for your project, just an initial idea or a general direction you would like to pursue. CUDC will work with you during the first three months of the fellowship to develop your project idea, secure supplemental funding (if needed), and prepare a timeline for implementing the project within the fellowship year.

The application deadline is 5:00 p.m. Friday, June 2, 2017. Late applications will not be accepted.

In addition to your application through the Kent State University website, please submit your resume, portfolio, and letter of intent in PDF format to cudc@kent.edu. If your portfolio is too large to email, please share it with cudc@kent.edu using DropBox (https://www.dropbox.com).

Selection Criteria
Applicants will be evaluated based on:

  • Academic performance
  • Work experience
  • Quality of portfolio
  • Clarity of intent

Kent State University, an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer is committed to attaining excellence through the recruitment and retention of a diverse work force. Women, minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. If you require assistance, please contact Kent State University’s Employment Office at 330-672-2100 or by email at employment@kent.edu.

Salary
$40,000 per year. The Post Graduate Fellow will be a full-time employee of Kent State University, with a full benefits package. The position is a one-year appointment; the period of employment will not be extended beyond one year. This is an administrative position, which does not include the possibility of tenure.

Questions?
Contact David Jurca at djurca@kent.edu

04-20-17

Hingetown Tour | April 28 | 12-1 PM

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For our last “lecture” of the Spring Series, we will be going on a tour of Hingetown to view and discuss the community projects happening in this neighborhood in Ohio City. Join us April 28, 2017, at 12 PM. The tour will begin at the corner of 29th & Detroit Ave. and will last about an hour. Our tour guides will be Marika Shioiri-Clark & Graham Veysey both residents and developers of this neighborhood. Stops on the tour will include the Striebinger block, the Print Shop buildings, few of the Creative Fusion murals, as well as, the new Spaces Gallery and the Transformer Station.

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Marika Shioiri-Clark and Graham Veysey spend their days in a 140-year-old firehouse in Hingetown – part of the Ohio City neighborhood. As neighborhood developers and designers, Marika and Graham converted the vacant Ohio City Firehouse into a vibrant mixed-used building with a coffee shop, florist, and collection of offices. Graham and Marika developed the block kitty-corner from the Firehouse into a vibrant retail and residential building just completed a third project called the Print Shop, and have been involved in planning numerous public events in the area. Called Hingetown, their work often focuses on connections and collaborations through the arts to promote public space and walkability across the near west side of Cleveland.

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Photo credit: Peter Larson

Hingtown Tour
April 28, 2017
12-1 PM
29th & Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44113

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