Although I am quite delinquent in writing this blog, but so much happens at Landmark Society that sometimes it takes you very long to write about them. In early June this year, I was a part of the annual conference organized by Association of Community Design. I was fortunate enough to attend the key session on “shrinking communities” where three speakers talked about different approaches to utilize vacant land in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Flint, Michigan. They talked about innovative ways to utilize vacant land through reinvesting in the edge, urban ecological design and productive landscapes with agricultural and community gardens.
The one concept which stayed with me from these presentations, was the notion of “pop up city”. It is a design initiative started by the faculty of Kent State University in Cleveland where they develop ideas for temporary uses for vacant buildings and sites. Some of those uses were temporary market (Bizarre Bazaar), winter wonderland (Leap Night), group walks (Pop up dog park) and performances under the bridge (Bridge Mix).
Sometimes it is strange how two different concepts from completely different sources can come together and benefit from each other. I recently heard on NPR about how recession woes have afflicted the fashion industry and NYC’s Port Authority- the transportation center is opening its first Month long Pop Up Retail Outlet, where you can buy designer brands at 50% discount—there you go, another version of pop up city.
“The Fashion Center Business Improvement District has teamed up with the Times Square Alliance and the NY Port Authority to create a 2500 square foot exhibition space for fashion designers and artists. The vacant space in the ground floor of the Port Authority will host rotating designers and provide a platform to showcase their works. To make this project accessible for young indie designers, they will only be charged for the utilities plus a monthly rent of just one dollar!” I think it is an incredible idea which promotes sustainability by not building new places and recycling vacant properties, helps lower rental rates, supports local artist groups and bring the community together.
This is a brilliant concept and can be used all over the world. Rochester has many vacant properties which could be brought to some use and would encourage community get- together from the entire demographics of the city. Some ideas for uses could be an art bazaar, music shows, food festival, farmer’s market, community design show— the possibilities are endless! As for the sites, they are endless too! Some of them are as follows:
1) Western end of the Frederick Douglas under Bridge
2) McCurdy’s Store in Midtown Plaza
3) Sibleys store now MCC campus
4) Bee Bee power station
5) Industrial buildings on W Main St
6) Meat packing plant on King St. and Silver St.
For more information about Pop up City, you can go to: http://www.popupcleveland.com/
Posted by Nimisha Thakur, preservation Associate
Photo courtesy; Dan Palmer