This week we welcome Ryan Dewey to our Fall Lecture Series. He will be speaking at the CUDC this Friday, October 28th, at 12 PM. His talk is titled, “Landscaping the Deep Future”, is a land art project that speculates at how we can harness future climate conditions for human-geologic collaborations after human extinction by exploring formal relationships between supply chains and geologic forces. Supply chains already are a kind of geologic force in that they move natural materials faster and farther than nature ever could, this project makes use of that acceleration to prime landscapes for phase changes and activation at the transitions of deep future climactic regimes.
Ryan Dewey does post-disciplinary translational research that crosses borders between expanded media, cognitive science, and environmental practice. He is the founder of Geologic Cognition Society, an open platform for collaboration focused on helping people experience nature in new ways. He is the author of the upcoming book Hacking Experience: New Tools for Artists from Cognitive Science (Punctum Books), and has also published in KERB, MONU, and Archinect on topics of urban design, landscape design, and spatial-emotional design. Dewey holds an MA from Case Western Reserve University where he served two appointments as visiting researcher in the Department of Cognitive Science exploring design cognition, ethnography, human attention, visual rhetoric and spatial cognition.
Join us, Friday, October 28th, from 12 -1 PM. As always, this lecture is free and open to the public.
Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
1309 Euclid Ave., Suite 200
Cleveland, OH 44115
On October 14-16, the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative took 18 of our grad students to Akron for an intense three-day design workshop, or “charrette”. The students came from our Masters of Architecture, Masters of Urban Design, and Masters of Landscape Architecture programs, plus Cleveland State University’s Masters of Urban Planning & Development program. We were also joined by six students & faculty from Lawrence Tech University in Detroit, plus CUDC alumni.
The three-day charrette examined Akron’s Innerbelt Removal site, the northern section of Highway 59 directly adjacent to Akron’s Downtown. Students, staff, and faculty formed four interdisciplinary teams to each produce a vision for the redevelopment of the site once it closes to vehicular traffic in the next year. They were charged with examining the current Innerbelt site and its linkages to the Downtown, surrounding neighborhoods, and larger region, in order to determine program, density, infrastructure, and character of new development & green space. How can a piece of highway previously perceived as a barrier be transformed into a meaningful connector, a piece of cohesive urban fabric, and a place in its own right?
To tackle this complex and rich design problem, students first took tours of the site area with City of Akron Planning Director, Jason Segedy; presented preliminary research to a room of local stakeholders, who gave their own advice and feedback; and then got to work producing site analysis and redevelopment concepts. After 48 hours, they presented four schemes on Sunday, Oct 16th to community stakeholders.
Final schemes addressed such specific topics as:
- connectivity between the Downtown and the near-west side neighborhoods;
- four-season recreation opportunities;
- linking to the existing network of trails like the Towpath;
- topographic shifts, grading, and landforming;
- short-term, flexible programming of the roadway surface;
- retrofitting adjacent Downtown buildings to face new Innerbelt development; and
- affordable and diverse housing options for all ages and populations.
The 2016 CUDC Community Design Charrette was graciously supported by the City of Akron; the Knight Foundation; Summit MetroParks; NAIOP Northern Ohio Chapter; and the Mastriana Endowment/4M Company LCC.
If you’d like to see more of the final four schemes developed, we’ll be back down in Akron this coming Thursday evening for a public presentation:
5:30 – 7:30 PM
NIHF STEM Middle School
199 S Broadway St, Akron
Please spread the word and come out to see all our students’ great ideas for the future of the Innerbelt site!
Making Our Own Stories, a youth podcast about placemaking, launched its first four episodes. The podcast will reveal the stories behind the projects built in the Buckeye neighborhood through the Making Our Own Space workshops. The podcast puts the mic in the hands of youth, training them to craft and tell stories they find interesting—in their own voice.
MOOStories is led by a team of partners including Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC), designer Ellen Sullivan, Kent State University Master of Landscape Architecture student Jessie Hawkins, community leader and independent radio broadcaster D’Angelo Knuckles, and Sidewalk founder and urban planner Justin Glanville.
Students learned how to use recording equipment so they could interview people on the street, design professionals, grant funders, police officers, and each other. The podcast gives youth the opportunity to ask adults why the neighborhood looks the way it does. Then take actions to make it better.
You can listen to the first four episodes on the MOOS website or on iTunes. We will be posting another episode each week for the next two months. If you enjoy the stories, please share the podcast link on social media and ask your friends to check it out, too. On iTunes, you can rate the podcast (5 stars please!) and leave a comment. The ratings and comments are really important ways to increase the podcast’s reach. We hope MOOStories will help people in Cleveland and across the country get a better understanding of the Buckeye community and how youth can play a larger role in shaping their own neighborhoods.
Want to listen live? There will be a live stream of the podcast at Sidewalks of Buckeye, Thursday, October 13th, from 6-8 PM. The event is sponsored by the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation in partnership with ioby. It will be a night of readings, musical performances, poetry, meditation and more! There will be hot dogs and freshly pressed juice. The event will take place at Art and Soul Park, E 118th and Buckeye Rd.
Making Our Own Stories is made possible through the generous support of the Cleveland Foundation’s Minority Arts & Education Fund.
This week we welcome Norman Krumholz to our Fall Lecture Series. His talk, “Cleveland Neighborhoods in Black and White” will explore equity planning, a theory of urban planning that Norman and his staff practiced with three Cleveland mayors (Stokes, Perk, and Kucinich) in the 1970s. He will also talk about how an equity planner thinks about certain issues and the results of their work in Cleveland.
Norman Krumholz is a Professor in the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University who earned his planning degree at Cornell. Prior to this, he served as a planning practitioner in Ithaca, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. He served as Planning Director for the City of Cleveland from 1969-1979 under Mayors Carl B. Stokes, Ralph J. Perk, and Dennis Kucinich.
Join us, Friday, September 30th, from 12 -1 PM. As always, this lecture is free and open to the public.
On September 23rd we welcome Mark Souther to our Fall Lecture Series. His talk is titled, “Cleveland Historical at Five: Reflections on a Half-Decade of Curating the City”. He will be speaking at the CUDC from 12 – 1 PM. This lecture is free and open to the public.
Souther shares the pioneering history app that curates Cleveland through hundreds of location-based stories. He also suggests the transformative place-making and community-building potential of digital storytelling.
Mark Souther is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University. He directs the Cleveland Historical app project and is the author of a number of books and articles on American urban history.
If you can not make the lecture we will be live streaming the talk on our Facebook page starting 12 PM.
Charles Waldheim is a Canadian-American architect and urbanist. Waldheim’s research examines the relations between landscape, ecology, and contemporary urbanism. He is an author, editor, or co-editor of numerous books, including the soon to be published, Third Coast Atlas. Join us on October 6, 2016 at 5:30 PM. This event is free and open to the public, but RSVP is requested.
Measuring over 10,000 miles, the Great Lakes coastline, known as the “third coast,” is longer than the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines of the United States combined. It is difficult to overstate the history and future of the region as both a contested and opportunistic site for urbanism. Envisaged as a comprehensive “atlas,” this publication comprises in-depth analysis of the landscapes, hydrology, infrastructure, urban form, and ecologies of the region, delivered through a series of analytical cartographies supported by scholarly and design research from internationally renowned scholars, photographers, and practitioners from the disciplines of architecture, landscape, geography, planning, and ecology.
Following Waldheim’s presentation, there will be a panel discussion with several contributors to the Third Coast Atlas, including:
- Sean Burkholder assistant professor of landscape and urban design at the University of Buffalo
- Maria Arquero de Alarcon and Jen Maigret, principals of Made-Studio and architecture faculty at the University of Michigan
- Terry Schwarz, director of Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
Steve Litt, art and architecture critic at the Plain Dealer will moderate the discussion.
AICP|CM credits will be provided for this event, sponsored by APA Cleveland.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
5:30pm – 7:00pm
Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200
Cleveland, OH 44115
The INDEX studio examined the relationships between two cities–Cleveland, Ohio and Havana, Cuba. The 15-week studio took place in the spring of 2016 at Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). By comparing these very different urban contexts, the studio provided new insights into familiar places and a better understanding of the challenges facing global cities.
Read and download the full report, written in English and Spanish, below.
Twelve graduate students generated proposals for a waterfront site in each of the two cities. The Cleveland site is the now-defunct Lakeshore Coal Plant, a monumental structure on a 60 acre site along the city’s eastern lakefront. The Havana counterpart is the Nico-Lopez Oil Refinery, a 500 acre facility still functioning as a refinery on the southeastern banks of Havana Bay.
Graduate students Alexander Scott and Jordan Fitzgerald re-envisioned the Lakeshore Coal Plant as a regional destination for industrial arts preservation and production, located in close proximity to Cleveland’s University Circle arts and culture district.
Students met with a range of design professionals and local experts while in Havana. These insights and direct observations gathered during the five day travel formed the basis of urban design proposals shown in the report. At the conclusion of the studio, students received feedback on their proposals from Cuban architects Ernesto Jimenez and Sofia Marquez Aguiar during the architects’ visit to Cleveland. The students’ design work will be exhibited in Havana, at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano, in Spring 2017.
The INDEX Studio is part of the curriculum for the Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Design programs in Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED). Kent State is committed to global education and expanding the cultural literacy of our students. Cuba offers a remarkably complex and locally relevant range of design opportunities. This initial studio is a first step toward establishing relationships with colleagues and collaborators in Cuba.
View and download the full report below:
Support for the travelling studio was generously provided by The Cleveland Foundation.
This summer’s graduate studio at the CUDC focused on issues of housing in the city of Cleveland. Eleven graduate students in architecture and urban design selected sites across the city to develop a strategy for housing various ages, incomes, and forms of collective living. Titled “Home Economics: The State of Housing in Cleveland,” the studio used interdisciplinary methods for making site determinations and strategies—combining urban planning, community development, and design thinking to aspects of their project. Students studied the recent Vacant Property survey released by the CUDC with Thriving Communities Institute and other studies to suggest alternative forms of development in neighborhoods across the city. Strategies ranged from urban systems questions relating to lead contamination in housing, to dispersed housing strategies that attempt to introduce affordability as a stabilizing factor both in gentrifying neighborhoods and in under-invested neighborhoods.
The studio marks the culmination for Master’s of Architecture students at the CUDC, while students in the Urban Design program will continue into capstone research.
Below are examples of some of the student’s work featured in the report.
We are excited to kick off our Fall Lecture Series with Sara Zewde, Designer at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol. Sara’s talk, “Design at the Margins of the Urban Renaissance”, will be at the CUDC on Tuesday, September 6th, from 12 -1 PM.
Urbanism is in the midst of a renaissance. Many cities are witnessing large investments in urban infrastructure, development, and civic institutions — even those whose populations are not increasing. Yet still, the design associated with this renaissance provokes tension. Design projects by Zewde located in Houston and Rio de Janeiro will be presented as a departure point for a dialogue on resolving this tension, and pushing design towards a more robust, and culturally relevant, practice.
Sara Zewde is a designer at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol. She holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a Master of City Planning from MIT, and a BA in Sociology and Statistics from Boston University. Sara was named the 2014 National Olmsted Scholar by the Landscape Architecture Foundation and a 2016 artist-in-residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Sara writes and lectures in the discourses of landscape architecture and urbanism and is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Silberberg Memorial Award for Urban Design and the Hebbert Award for Contribution to the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.
Concurrent to working at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Sara continues independent design work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Houston, Texas; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Sara finds that in considering the relationship between ecology, culture, and craft, there are often many powerful departure points for design. Her work is currently on display at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale’s Brazilian pavilion.
Sara will also be speaking at Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) on September 6th, starting at 5:30 PM in the Cerne Lecture Hall. Her talk at the CAED is titled, “Ecologies of Memory”. Both events are free and open to the public. RSVP is not required but requested, please click here.
If you can not make the lecture we will be live streaming the talk on our Facebook page starting 12 PM.
Jane Rossman is a summer intern here at the CUDC. She is a rising senior at Bryn Mawr College, majoring in the Growth and Structure of Cities. She will be speaking at CUDC on August 15th at 12:00 PM. Her lecture will feature the culmination of Jane’s research on the successes and failures of government, community development and residents’ responses to vacant space and properties in the Hough neighborhood and possible remedies. We asked her to write a blog piece as well, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Hough Uprising—encouraging conversations concerning the history of the neighborhood as well as issues of housing, education, and community development.
VACANT: ABANDONED / EMPTY / OPEN
by Jane Rossman
Click image to view larger. Clearance Sections and Project Boundaries, East Hough highlighted, University-Euclid General Urban Renewal Plan, City Planning Commission, Jack Meltzer Associates, November 15, 1960. Public Administration Library.
The transformation of Hough to the empty land it is today began many years before the summer of 1966. Redlining, blockbusting, absentee landlords, and homes bursting at the seams from overcrowding all defined Hough in the 1950s. Slowly the few open spaces became the highlights of the dense neighborhood.
The need for more open space and better housing was answered in policy, but abandoned with lack of enforcement. The promise of renewal was denied. Instead, Hough was faced with slum clearance that left vacant space and increasing dilapidation. Promises abandoned along with increasing racial tension fueled a burning frustration that boiled over in the week long Uprising.
Razing the neighborhood to the ground left the abandoned Hough with more emptiness and blight than residents could handle. The population was reduced to a third its previous number — Hough was transformed into a landscape of the abandoned and empty.
Empty space is the breeding ground for the grass-roots. Hough Area Development Corporation (HADC), Famicos and a community determined to remain and revitalize the neighborhood began the slow path of reversing vacancy. Yet, how does one succeed when there is more empty space than structures and many of the remaining structures are so deteriorated they will soon be felled, adding to the emptiness?
How can one renew the empty space from abandonment to openness and places of intention?
Urban farms and gardens, residents rehabilitating and constructing their own homes, art programs outreach, and local organizations efforts have all helped stimulate change in the neighborhood. The areas currently considered for economic development and transit oriented development, though, do not completely reflect the possible opportunities in Hough.
Click image to view larger. Hough Sustainable Development Patterns, (2013), Cleveland City Planning Commission overlaid with Vacant Properties Inventory: Vacant Structures and Land, (2016), Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
Click image to view larger. Ward 7 Current Development Projects and Economic and Transit Nodes, Hough highlighted, Hough Development Corporation Short Term Plan (3-5 years), (1987) HDC, Public Administration Library.
These hubs of development constructed by local initiatives from the past 40 years create openings for economic development and further exploration of innovative intervention.
This summer, August 26-27, Kent State University faculty and staff will embark on the 3rd Annual Crooked River Commute. This kayaking trek along the Cuyahoga River from Kent State University’s main campus (Kent) to Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (Cleveland) is intended to promote the river as a shared regional asset for education, recreation, and sustainability.
Cheer us on as we paddle into the Great Lakes Burning River Fest.
Meet us at the finish of the trip. We should arrive in Cleveland on Saturday, August 26th, around 7:15 PM. Grab a beer at the Coast Guard Station during The Burning River Festival and watch us paddle in.
Follow us for updates.
Share our story.
Tell your friends, family and social network about the Crooked River Commute. We’ll be using social media during the trip, using hashtag: #RiverCommute
Read our summary to learn more about the back story and goals of this trip.
The CUDC seeks written or graphic submissions for its Urban Infill publication. Urban Infill is the journal of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. The upcoming issue (Urban Infill 8) will be a series of pamphlets, bound together, that explore five broad topic areas in urban design and city-making. Pamphlet 4: Age-Friendly Cities is part of an initiative launched by the CUDC and with support from the George Gund Foundation called the Future City Sessions. The Future City Sessions are about informing practice—how can we anticipate emerging urban trends and embed them into current urban design practice? Submissions of realized urban projects, speculative designs, texts, and photo essays are encouraged for the August 26th deadline. Text is limited to 1000 words.
Pamphlet 4: Age-Friendly Cities seeks to address the following questions:
- What changes to a city’s physical and social infrastructure are needed to make them more age-inclusive?
- What projects and amenities are serving the needs of seniors well?
- How can we reconsider the development and spatial model of senior developments to enable alternative forms of community?
- Are there cities in the US of elsewhere that are especially well-suited to the needs of the aging populations? What can be learned from these places, and in what ways can we foster better environments in all cities?
Please send your work to firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Urban Infill” in the subject line of your email. Entries are due August 26, 2016.
Click image to view larger.
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 an accredited graduate program in one of these fields in 2015 or 2016.
This is a full-time position with benefits, available beginning in August 1, 2016 or after.
The Post Graduate Fellow will be a full-time member of the CUDC staff for one calendar year. Job responsibilities will vary, but may include:
- Working on urban design and planning projects for community clients, under the direction of CUDC senior staff
- Developing research proposals in partnership with CUDC staff
- Assisting with the organization and logistics of the annual community design charrette, to be held in the fall of 2016
- Participating in graduate-level design juries and advising graduate students on their Capstone projects
- Working with incoming students to help them become acclimated to Cleveland and the CUDC
- Assisting in the editing, production, and marketing of the CUDC’s annual journal, Urban Infill
- Monitoring the use of CUDC facilities (especially the laser cutter and foam cutter)
- Other tasks as assigned by CUDC staff
In addition to these responsibilities, the Fellow will 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 pop up 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 event
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.
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 2015 or 2016. The CUDC will select one Fellow from the pool of applicants.
To be considered for the Post Graduate Fellowship, please submit:
- Application through the Kent State University website: https://jobs.kent.edu/postings/9186/
- 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, July 22, 2016. Late applications will not be accepted.
Please submit your resume, portfolio, and letter of intent in PDF format to email@example.com. If your portfolio is too large to email, please share it with firstname.lastname@example.org using DropBox (https://www.dropbox.com).
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 email@example.com.
$40,000 per year. The Post Graduate Fellow will be a full-time employee of Kent State University, with a full benefit 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.
Contact David Jurca at firstname.lastname@example.org
5×5 : Participatory Provocations is an exhibit of 25 architectural models by 25 young American architects. 5 contemporary issues, each addressed by 5 firms. It will be exhibited at the CUDC from July 11 – August 24. There will be an opening reception at 5:30 PM on July 11th, along with a panel discussion with curators Kyle May, Julia Van Den Hout, and Kevin Erickson, as well as participants, Michael Abrahamson and Jonathon Kurtz.
Architecture as a profession struggles to simultaneously engage with the public and be provocative within the confines of its own field. Either arguments and proposals get “dumbed down” or they simply aren’t accessible or relevant. This exhibit argues for participatory criticism. Twenty-five young architects engage in a series of significant popular issues, taking clear stances and producing a physical expression or provocation as a means of communicating with a larger public. Each team responds to one of the five prompts — contemplating the future of drone deliveries, the consequence of the construction of extreme luxury highrises as financial investments, luxury tourism on the moon, the fictional development of NSA community branches, and the potential construction of an anti-immigration wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.
The avant-garde in architecture has for decades captured its imaginations via two-dimensional representations, but this exhibit asks architects to be just as provocative in three dimensions. Each team produces only a single model and short text on one of the prompts. The selected topics intend to provoke, but are grounded in issues we face today. Architecture has a seat at each discussion.
5×5: Participatory Provocations is curated by Kyle May, Julia Van Den Hout, and Kevin Erickson.
Kyle May, principal at KMA, which he founded in 2014. He also co-founded CLOG in 2011, where he is the Editor in Chief. He is a registered architect in New York and Ohio. He is a graduate of Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, where he completed the Master of Architecture program at the CUDC.
Julia Van Den Hout is founder of Original Copy, and co-founder and Editor of CLOG. As Original Copy, she is currently producing TEN Arquitectos’s new monograph, as well as a book on expos and world’s fairs centered around the Milan Expo 2015. Prior to founding Original Copy, Julia was the Director of Press and Marketing at Steven Holl Architects for six years, where she was responsible for developing and coordinating the PR strategy for over 30 projects and competitions, organizing the opening and publication of 12 completed projects, and the coordination of multiple traveling exhibitions. She has a Master’s Degree in Design Criticism from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Kevin Erickson is a designer in New York City (KNE studio), and an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois. He is on the Program Leadership Council at the Van Alen Institute, was a Visiting Professor at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow, and an Artist-in-Residence at the Geoffrey Bawa Lunuganga Trust in Sri Lanka.
5×5 : Participatory Provocations
Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200
Cleveland, OH 44115
July 11 – August 24, 2016
The exhibition will be on view M-F 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM*
*7/18-22 please call 216.357.3434 for our availability, may be limited due to the RNC.
Opening reception & panel discussion
July 11 at 5:30 PM
Our Post Graduate Fellow, Sam Friesema, will be leaving the CUDC after his year of service. The CUDC created the one-year position for graduates of KSU’s Master of Architecture, Master of Urban Design, or dual MArch/MUD program. Before he left, Sam shared with us some of the work he has been interested in at his time here at the CUDC. We wish him well in his next adventure!
Cut the Cord
by Sam Friesema
In the early 1900s two enormous projects were undertaken simultaneously in Cleveland Ohio by the Van Sweringen brothers. Firstly, the garden city suburb community of Shaker Heights became one of the premier residential neighborhoods in the country. Secondly, the Cleveland Union Terminal (now Tower City) was an immense mixed-use facility. The complex’s 52 story Terminal Tower became a monumental symbol of the city’s successes. Standing at 771 feet tall, it was for a time the second tallest building in the world.
Light Rail. Fueling and enabling these two projects was a third project critical to ensure the birth of the others. Shaker Heights was conceived first but as residential building lots initially sold slowly the developers needed a means to quickly transport their potential suburbanites, along with their wealth, to and from the heart of the city. The Van Sweringen brothers hastily assembled properties and easements which allowed the developers to install a light-rail rapid transit line from their new suburb to the city’s center at Public Square. Less iconic yet equally important, the transit project supplied the capital and populations necessary to fully construct the tower and the garden city. Interestingly, to secure a small one mile section of rail easement, the brothers bought an entire rail company with 523 miles of track spanning from Buffalo and Chicago which led to their eventual rail business holdings of over 30,000 miles of track and assets of an estimated $3 Billion.
1902 Map of Greater Cleveland with highlighted Downtown, Shaker Heights, and the rail connections.
The rail line within Shaker Heights is a beautifully designed centerpiece along tree lined medians and half million dollar homes. However, once the rail line leaves Shaker Heights and cuts through poor sections of Cleveland en route to downtown, the line is sunken and hidden from view. The views to and from the transit line are obscured by grade changes and dense vegetation. Shaker residents are shielded from any views of the vacancy and poverty they are passing through. The transit line awkwardly slices through communities and pedestrian access is dangerously out of sight, unlike the well-planned stations within Shaker.
What if we removed the passenger light rail line connecting downtown Cleveland to Shaker Heights in order to re-evaluate regional public transportation options and to let the two communities build their own unique and separate self-identities moving forward?