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POP UP CITY

OVERVIEW

Established by the CUDC in 2007, Pop Up City is an action-based research program that explores ideas for urban reinvention through temporary interventions. This research contributes to an understanding of the challenges of shrinking cities, an area of growing social importance since an increasing number of cities worldwide are grappling with population decline.

Temporary uses are undervalued in an urban context. Public officials prefer permanent projects that create an appearance of stability and progress. But short-term interventions are a useful tool in shrinking cities, where unpredictable conditions are best addressed with improvised, adaptable responses.

Pop Up City has evolved over the years to respond to the changing needs found in underused urban environments. Projects range in duration from a few hours to several weeks and vary in scale from a single storefront to multiple city blocks. Each Pop Up City project aims to explore different questions and share new lessons regarding temporary use as an urban activation strategy.

Research Questions

Pop Up City research questions have been integrated into the CUDC's professional practice and Kent State University's graduate architecture curriculum. How can temporary interventions enhance urban vitality, engage the public in urban design decisions, and support permanent development? Temporary projects are used to test this question and identify community benefits, including:

  • FLUIDITY IN RESPONSE TO UNCERTAINTY: Where permanent development is infeasible, short-term interventions offer alternative versions and visions of the city. Pop Up City examines and accelerates the process of reinvention through targeted interventions in response to specific community concerns.
  • SOCIAL CAPITAL: Temporary projects create portable places of inclusion. Traditional real estate development targets a desirable market niche, excluding those who don’t fit the picture of ideal consumers. Pop Up City provides opportunities and amenities for all, fostering social interaction and engaging residents in intentional and measurable ways.
  • ENGAGEMENT: Temporary projects provide an effective means of community engagement. Instead of asking the public to respond to sketches and models of development alternatives, temporary installations enable people to explore a variety of alternatives and determine their preferences based on actual, on-site experiences.
  • A PATH FORWARD: Short-term opportunities can lead to permanent change. Three Pop Up projects showcased vacant commercial properties that subsequently resulted in permanent tenants. A temporary project for a vacant covered bridge in Cleveland led to a full-blown transportation planning process for the permanent re-use of the structure, funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation and the National Endowment for the Arts. A Pop Up streetscape project helped to illustrate a recently adopted Complete Streets ordinance and was used to train the city’s Public Works staff in the principles of sustainable street design.

Press

The profesional practice, research, and pedagogical contributions of the Pop Up City initiative have received numerous forms of recognition, which include the following:

 

PROJECTS

The POP UP CITY Book
Urban INFILL volume no. 2

A collection of essays that promote temporary use strategies as an emerging economic development and urban design tool, particularly for cities experiencing large-scale urban vacancy, market challenges and diminishing financial resources.

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TEMPORARY USE HANDBOOK

Are you thinking about starting your own pop-up project? The Temporary Use Handbook is here to help. This useful guide (included in the Pop Up City book) provides advice on obtaining permits, event insurance and sponsors, as well as a list of local Cleveland contacts for often overlooked items such as trash removal and event promotion.

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SHRINKAPALOOZA
May 18, 2007

The CUDC's first Pop Up City event was a response to the twin challenges of depopulation: decreased urban activity and excess vacant space. Shrinkapalooza was held in Hyacinth Park, an underused public park in Cleveland’s Slavic Village.

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BAZAAR BIZARRE
December 1, 2007

Bazaar Bizarre Cleveland moved to a new location in 2007 in partnership with Pop Up City. The temporary event occupied a vacant building that allowed spotlight on some of Cleveland's spectacular, but underutilized properties. The Bazaars continue to take place every year during the peak holiday shopping season in December.

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LEAP NIGHT
February 29, 2008

A vacant lot became a bustling winter wonderland on Leap Night, February 29, 2008. The free event open to the public was held at 1100 Old River Road (between Main Avenue and Front Street) on the site of Scott Wolstein's future development, the East Bank in the Flats. Leap Night was the first large scale event in the new "Pop Up City" initiative for Cleveland.

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POP UP DOG PARK
August 3, 2008

Pop Up City staged a one-day dog park on the site of the future Canal Basin Park, with the help of the Cleveland City Planning Commission and the Health Department’s Steps to a Healthier Cleveland initiative.

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BRIDGE MIX
October 10, 2008

A night under the stars and over the freeway. On October 10, 2008; Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative hosted Bridge Mix, a one-night celebration with music, art and stargazing at the West 11th Street pedestrian bridge over I-490 in Tremont.

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ELECTRIC ROLLER DISCOTECH
August 28, 2009

The Electric Roller DiscoTech event is a wonderful example of the creative potential in Cleveland, which the Pop Up City initiative works to reveal. The 2008/2009 Cleveland Executive Fellows partnered with Pop Up City and St. Clair Superior Development Corporation to host a temporary use event on the 3rd floor of the Leff Electric building.

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THE BRIDGE PROJECT
2009 - present

Through a series of public events and temporary interventions, the lower level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge has been reimagined to become one of Cleveland's most dramatic and beloved public spaces. The Bridge Project Design [Build] Charrette and The Detroit-Superior Bridge Project Connectivity Plan employed innovative public engagement methods to gather valuable feedback on a wide range of potential future uses. The pop up events were crafted to support a community led initiative to open the lower level for public use.

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HIPP DECK
October 8, 2011

Can a parking garage do more for a community than simply provide parking spaces? The Hipp Deck, a temporary use intervention in downtown Cleveland, responded to that question with a resounding 'Yes!' An ordinary parking garage was transformed into a lively public outdoor performance venue for one night, complete with friendly elevator operators, lawn seating, local food concession stands and a fountain pond growing lettuce.

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POP UP ROCKWELL
April 21 - 27, 2012

Pop Up Rockwell is a one-week experiment to test complete & green street improvements on downtown Cleveland's Rockwell Avenue (between W. Roadway and E. 6th Street.) The temporary street transformation explored fresh ideas for making the street more pedestrian and bicyclist friendly. Going beyond two-dimensional drawings used in typical public meetings, Pop Up Rockwell allowed people to physically experience a future vision of the city in three dimensions, in a real environment, and provide feedback before large financial and political investments are made.

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COLD Snowball Pavilion
November 15 - December 15, 2013

The Snowball Pavilion was constructed as part of the Center for Outdoor Living Design (COLD) initiative to prmote liveability in cold climate cities. The wooden structure served as a public exhibition space, which housed winning entries from COLDSCAPES: New Visions for Cold Weather Cities design competition.

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