CUDC at Spontaneous Interventions

CUDC’s Pop Up City projects are featured in SPONTANEOUS INTERVENTIONS, an exhibition and series of programs at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street. www.spontaneousinterventions.org

Spontaneous Interventions, organized by the New York nonprofit Institute for Urban Design, is devoted to the growing movement of architects, designers, artists, and everyday citizens acting on their own initiative to bring improvements to the urban realm, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. The exhibition received over 178,000 visitors in Venice last summer and is now on view in Chicago through September.

CUDC director Terry Schwarz is at the Spontaneous Interventions show to participate in a panel on Community Engagement and the Just City. She has some observations about the exhibition and its relevance for northeast Ohio.

Temporary “pop up” projects are everywhere these days. What’s behind all of this planned spontaneity?

Cities are experiencing many levels of change–climate change, demographic shifts, economic upheaval, volatility in urban real estate markets, etc. Temporary projects are a logical response to uncertainty and change because they allow us to test new ideas for urban development in ways that are low-cost and low-risk. The most useful kinds of temporary interventions lay the ground work for permanent and lasting improvements to the built environment.

How is the CUDC involved in Spontaneous Interventions?

The CUDC began experimenting with on-the-ground temporary interventions back in 2007 and, as such, we are recognized as one of the pioneers in this field. In 2007, we hosted an international Shrinking Cities exhibition in Cleveland. At the time (and still today) it was difficult to have discussions about the impacts of on-going population loss and urban vacancy in the city. Temporary projects through the CUDC’s Pop Up City initiative gave us a means for engaging the public in a conversation about the changes underway in Cleveland through playful interventions that celebrate the things we have, rather than lament the things we’ve lost. Pop Up City remains a vital part of the CUDC’s community design practice.

The CUDC launched some of the earliest pop up shops, improvised community spaces, and temporary interventions in Cleveland. What’s the CUDC doing these days?

We don’t organize pop up shops or restaurants any more, since there are so many people and organizations that are filling this need. We’ve moved onto infrastructure questions, including our on-going efforts to open the vacant lower level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge as a public space and bike/pedestrian connection, and last year’s short-term complete & green street experiment, Pop Up Rockwell. Moving forward, we’re developing a project to address the needs of people in the downtown area who are homeless, using pop up interventions to mitigate conflicts between homeless populations and other downtown residents, workers, and visitors. Also, Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design is developing a new Masters of Landscape Architecture program, to be located at the CUDC. The MLA program will open up new opportunities for spontaneous explorations in the natural realm.

Toni Griffin moderates a converation with
Dan D’Oca and Andre Brumfield

So, what are you doing in Chicago?

I’m here to participate in a panel discussion about Community Engagement and the Just City, moderated by Toni Griffen, Director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the City College of New York. Toni is one of my heroes–

an innovative designer who is truly committed to making better, more inclusive and beautiful cities. Other panelists include Andre Brumfield (Urban Designer at Gensler), Daniel D’Oca (Principal at Interboro Partners, whose work was included in the CUDC’s publication Urban Infill Volume 1: Cities Growing Smaller), and Liz Ogbu (Scholar in Residence at the California College of the Arts). It’s great to have an opportunity to interaction with colleagues from around the country and to see how the work we do at the CUDC fits into the bigger national picture. And I’ve enjoyed seeing our work on exhibit here along with so many inspiring projects from elsewhere.

Panelists (from left to right) Andre Brumfield, Dan D'Oca, Liz Ogbu, Terry Schwarz, and moderator Toni GriffinPanelists (from left to right) Andre Brumfield, Dan D’Oca, Liz Ogbu, Terry Schwarz and moderator Toni Griffin (image: twitter.com/S_Interventions)

Spontaneous Interventions Exhibit

MAY 24 – SEP 1, 2013
Chicago Cultural Center Michigan Ave. Galleries
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602


open daily, closed holidays
free admission

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