Pop Up Rockwell was a one-week experiment to test "complete & green street" improvements on downtown Cleveland's Rockwell Avenue (between W. Roadway and E. 6th Street), which took place during April 21-27, 2012. The week-long installation was the culmination of a five week graduate urban design studio involving the research, design, installation and evaluation of proposed street transformations. Pop Up Rockwell gave city officials, bicycling advocacy groups and members of the public an opportunity to experience and respond to a future vision of the city in three dimensions, in a real environment, before large financial and political commitments are made.
The project builds on the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative's (CUDC) expertise in temporary urbanism developed through Pop Up City, an initiative started by the CUDC in 2007. The project was led by graduate students at Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, but involved partnership with several stakeholder groups representing advocacy organizations, non-profits, municipal government, federal agencies and local businesses.
The installations built by CUDC graduate students included Cleveland’s first cycle track, stormwater bio-filtration benches, enhanced transit waiting areas and wind animated public art. Lessons learned from the short-term project may influence permanent changes on Rockwell Avenue and the temporary use model will hopefully become more widely used in other public engagement processes.
The idea for Pop Up Rockwell emerged as a response to the desire of Clevelanders to see on-the-ground action in the typical lull between planning and final implementation. The project tackles design questions posed by two initiatives undertaken by the City of Cleveland, which will significantly impact the physical environment of the city: the Complete & Green Streets ordinance and the Group Plan Commission report. In 2011, Cleveland City Council passed the Complete & Green Streets ordinance requiring 20% of the money spent on road projects to cover the costs of amenities for bicyclists, pedestrians and persons with disabilities. The ordinance also necessitates considerations for energy efficiency and stormwater management in all projects. Cleveland's local bicyling community and environmental advocates are eager to see follow through on the language found in the legislation.
The second initiative Pop Up Rockwell supports is the Group Plan Commission report, released in May 2011, which included a recommendation to transform Rockwell Avenue into "Cleveland's Green Street showpiece." Rockwell Avenue could serve as a connective spine between several key sites in the Group Plan report, including the Warehouse District, Burnham Mall and Public Square. The intention is that a physical, albeit non-permanent, example of a complete and green street may help grow public awareness of the Complete and Green Street ordinance and build political support for permanent implementation of the Group Plan Commission's recommendations.