2006.03.21 Excellence Roundtable: Steven Fong redesigning future of planning in NEO

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 03/22/2006 - 10:23.

March 21, 2006, REALNEO and the Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC)  hosted a wonderful open-house and Excellence Roundtable featuring, Steven Fong, the Charter Dean of the KSU School of Architecture and Environmental Design, which is based in Kent, Ohio, of which CUDC is part. In prime roundtable form, the attendees were as diverse and remarkeable as is Steven, driving a fascinating hour and half brainstorm through Steven's world of fantastic projects that he's worked on around the world, down to today's reality of NEO, viewed from 30,000 feet down to the streets.

I believe this was as much a learning experience for Steven Fong as for the attendees, who ranged from wind activist Martha Eakin and advanced energy entrepreneur Phil Lane to Cuyahoga County Planning Director Paul Alsenas and Plain Dealer Architecture Critic Steven Litt - a list will post here shortly. Following a half hour of Dean Fong sharing with us his vision for redevelopment and planning opportunities in NEO, we got down to the business of planning the future NEO. As you'll see, from a report Steven Litt posted from the Roundtable, the future of planning in NEO is suddenly much brighter... we are about to see the biggest change to our landscape imaginable as the KSU Graduate School of Architecture moves to Cleveland. This means we will attract, create, retain... always have... more, better architecture, planning and urban and environmental design talent, education, awareness, outcomes and, most important, culture than ever in the history of the region... right where it belongs, in downtown Cleveland. The heart of the region is about to have lots more talent focused on the planning and design of the region, and all people here will benefit. We could not have any better news.

Architects - urban planners - design every aspect of our lives - here's an interesting video clip from a CUDC student on that point... http://realneo.us/video-urban-planners. Our roads, and parks, and homes and schools... our region is all planned and designed, and how it is planned and designed means everything in determining our quality of life. This determines if we breath clean air, and have livable neighborhoods and strong economies... where everything goes and the rules by how everyone share resources is the foundation of modern society. Historically, Cleveland has been extremely poor at planning, as is well documented in a history of architecture by Cleveland Architect Joseph Ceruti on a MUST READ journal on the KSU site - see  http://realneo.us/Kent-Grad-School-of-Arcitecture-to-move-to-Cleveland#comment-877. In that architect's words, to clarify how important it is to have high level, independent, globally connected and competent design and planning leadership in NEO, consider an especially shocking highlight that shines unique light on how planning happens here usually

(45) Under Bohn's leadership, a comprehensive plan for downtown development was unveiled in 1957 with a grand affair in Public Hall, but Louis Seltzer, "kingmaker," had hand-picked Frank Celebrezze, state legislator, to be mayor of Cleveland and was planning to build his new headquarters at Lakeside and East 9th Street. Since Bohn's plan concentrated on the revitalization of Euclid Avenue, the heart of our city, it would not serve to appreciate the value of Seltzer's site on Lakeside Avenue. Therefore James Lister, then Director of Urban Planning set up to bypass the Planning Commission, for political reasons sold the mayor on having I.M. Pei -- world-renowned architect and planner -- to come up with Erieview I & II. Now the 1957 plan for downtown development was scrapped in favor of the Erieview plan. The Van Sweringens had aborted the Group Plan and Seltzer aborted the Downtown Plan. Politicians are not interested in long-range planning because it does not produce visible results in time for re-election.

 With the entry of KSU into the regional planning core, with an expert, globally-connected, innovative and resourceful presence in Cleveland, growing the hugely impactful CUDC into a world-renowned learning and doing institution, the ecosystem changes, This removes politicians and kingmakers from planning, putting that in the hands of resourceful experts, who by definition will work closely to protect diverse interests of all stakeholders - and they will be much more transparent and accountable than kingmakers.

Thank you Steven Fong, CAED, CUDC and KSU. 



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Roundtable was Excellent

I very much enjoyed yesterday's presentation at the CUDC. Thank you for the opportunity to meet Mr. Fong. Regarding his suggestion that the arts can play a pivotal role in launching revitalization in neighborhoods and districts, here is one such new space well worth mentioning. Convivium33 Gallery. www.josaphatartshall.com

Also of note the longtime work of Bill and Harriet Gould to open Cleveland to the idea of live work space for artists in Northeast Ohio. From their website…

Making Cleveland an Art "Friendly" City: Legalizing Live-Work

Most people realize that artists provide benefits to their communities by enriching people's lives through their creative work. What many fail to realize is the extent to which artists also help communities economically. In fact, artists are often at the heart of urban revitalization efforts because they tend to inhabit and revive worn-out neighborhoods in the city core. Most artists do this by adopting a "live-work" lifestyle, wherein they reside in the same space that serves as their workspace, studio and gallery. And here is the note from Joe Cimperman's office about the issue.
"Unfortunately, many cities fail to take full advantage of the benefits artists provide because of outdated laws that make live/work illegal. Adding to this problem is the lack of financing and incentives to allow struggling artists to make live/work buildings a success. Thus, even though Cleveland is in dire need of economic assistance, many artists that would have put their sweat equity into the city's troubled neighborhoods will instead choose to settle in a more artist-friendly environment.

To fully reap the benefits that artists can bestow upon this community, Cleveland is taking the lead on a more enlightened stance on the issue of live/work. The first step has already been taken: city Councilman Joe Cimperman helped pass a zoning ordinance that created live/work zones in certain areas of the city. However, this is not enough; the state building code still makes it highly difficult for artists to live and work in the same space, in spite of the new zoning.

The Councilman's office is in the process of working with State Representatives, members of the State Board of Building Standards, and ArtSpace/Cleveland to adapt its building code to accommodate artist live-work. The city is also in the process of encouraging local and national lenders to create the type of non-traditional leans necessary to finance live/work buildings.

Finally, Councilman Cimperman has made "live-work" his economic priority by funneling some development grants and loans toward live/work projects. Cleveland continues to lead the way in Ohio's live-work movement."

By Marina Marquez-Zenkov, Administrative Assistant to Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman (Ward 13)

(Visit artspacecleveland.com for more information.)

There is the suggestion that artists being priced out of New York might find a convivial environment here in Cleveland.

With "Cleveland wants you" ads in NY alternative media or even blogs, we might attract some artists out-priced in the big apple to help us revitalize our industrial remains. But even more important would be to help art students in Cleveland find financing to settle in Cleveland neighborhoods. Where is that map/directory of available live work spaces or even affordable studio spaces in Cleveland?

I loved the picture

I didn't get to attend the Roundtable but I loved the image you used to illustrate your posting. What program did you use to make the composite?

I'm making these collages in Gimp

I'm taking lots of pictures of settings where I want to capture the whole thing so I'm just rotating and snapping the 10 or so shots needed to get 360 degrees (or whatever) and then reducing them to about 200 pixels wide in Gimp, and pasting them in line in a 1200x200 image that I scale to fit as I need.

 Love that Gimp - thanks to you and Phillip for getting me more into using it