If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in water. - Loren Eisley
The proximity to water, in great abundance, has shaped the urban landscape of Cleveland since the city’s inception. Lake Erie and its numerous tributaries are ever present in the city. Even when development turns its back on the lake, and creeks and streams are hidden below ground in pipes and culverts, water will not be denied.
In a more prosperous and arrogant era, growth and development occurred with almost total disregard for Cleveland’s complex and beautiful hydrology. Streams were buried, wetlands were destroyed, and the city’s natural waterways were compromised and polluted. But water endures.
Cleveland is now facing unprecedented challenges as we tackle the daunting tasks of fortifying the city’s fragile economy, rebuilding the city’s aging infrastructure, and restoring the region’s damaged ecosystems. Water is the key to Cleveland’s transformation and the future of our region.
Water|craft grew out of our experiences in working with the volatile urban situation of Cleveland. Designing for neighborhoods with high vacancy rates and dwindling property values, we have found that formal urban design tools and conventional land use practices are becoming increasingly irrelevant. We are after nothing less than a new way of designing cities, one that is flexible and improvisational, hopeful and helpful. In this volume, we are looking at urban and regional water issues and new design approaches. We highlight water-related best practices, particularly about water infrastructure made visible as a form-giver and a design driver.
The Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the George Gund Foundation for the Urban Infill series. We also appreciate the support and assistance provided by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in developing this volume. And we thank the many authors, photographers, and artists who contributed their work to this timely and important conversation.
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