2014 Place by Design Semi-Finalists
A case study in transforming a downtown alley into a vibrant public open space—20ft Wide includes a mix of installations and multi-generational events to connect us with the dynamic past, present, and future roles of Austin’s urban alley system. 20ft Wide derives its name from the 20 feet that serve as the standard width for Austin’s downtown alleys, as noted on the 1839 city plan by Edwin Waller.
Routinely active with service functions and vehicular deliveries, the alley is re-envisioned as a new kind of public space – allowing for something temporary, dramatic, and multi-use to pop-up. The intention for 20ft Wide is two-fold. First, is to underline the features of the alley, to elevate its presence and expose its utilitarian beauty. Second, is to transform the experience of the space. 20ft Wide creates a backdrop or context for new public activities to occur in this space in-between.
The project includes Site Specific Installation by Dan Cheetham (Fyoog) and Michelle Tarsney in collaboration with Creative Action teaching artists and local children, Sound Design by Steve Parker in partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Murals by Matthew J. Winters, Spatial Design by TBG’s Chris Jackson and Nicole Warns, and Bird Silhouettes by Griffon Ramsey with Assistance by Burl Norville.
Activating Vacancy is an art and public interest design initiative in the Tenth Street Historic District of Dallas produced and curated by bcWORKSHOP in partnership with the Dallas CityDesign Studio. Throughout 2014, local artists and designers worked with the neighborhood to devise and execute six projects - ranging from installations to performances to markets - that explored the cultural, social, political, and economic life of this historic neighborhood, and demonstrated the latent potential of underutilized and abandoned space for cultural activity and regeneration.
Founded in the 1870s by freed-slaves on Hord’s Ridge, Tenth Street was eventually subdivided into a 358-parcel neighborhood of businesses, families, and churches that thrived for decades. Today, nearly 150 parcels and many of the houses are vacant, making the Tenth Street Historic District unique among Dallas’s historic districts. Despite these challenges, the neighborhood is striving to revive its identity and retain its heritage in the face of demolition and disinvestment.
The artistic actions began in Spring 2014 - The Ark on Noah Street transformed a parking lot into a spiritual sculpture; Story Corners revealed the theater on a street corner; Dear House rallied a vacant house to become its own advocate; the Show Hill Biz Market revived a vacant commercial site, and Ghost Bridges reframed neighborhood pathways.
Austin's Atlas Illustrated Pedestrian Guides
Austin's Atlas is a collaborative art project interested in discovering, capturing, and expanding Austin’s sense of place by creating thematic pedestrian guides, collecting crowd-sourced maps of Austin, instigating organized workshops and walks, and inviting the public to collaboratively produce public art. The particular sub-project this application will focus on is Austin's Atlas's first illustrated pedestrian guide: Urban Oddities. This guide is a visual scavenger hunt that begins at City Hall, winds North up Congress, and ends on the Capital grounds. The finished product (currently at 90% completion) is a sheet that includes textual clues and an annotated map on one side, as well as illustrated visual clues on the reverse. The finished guide will be printed/released in August 2014 with an eventual interactive version available via phone/tablet. Subsequent pedestrian guides are planned, encompassing historical, botanical, and topographical topics. For more info about the larger Austin's Atlas project and its philosophy, visit: austinsatlas.com.
Cella is a new, creative product designed to bring urban people closer to nature. Cella’s unique ability to create the optimal microclimate for moss and small plants makes it adaptable to all kinds of environments. The small, organic form of the units makes creative use of space by anyone in any environment around us to fit a garden more easily in our living.
CitySink | SyncCity
Through a unique collaboration between the City of San Jose and public artists Claire Napawan and Brett Snyder a public art initiative is underway. The aim is simple: to address issues surrounding wastewater infrastructure that contribute to sanitary sewer overflows. The realities are complex however and span from the kitchen to the bay encompassing daily rituals, cooking and cleaning habits, and a variety of ages, cultures, and backgrounds.
Through this public awareness initiative, the City of San Jose has provided an opportunity to confront the issue of Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) waste through public art, designed to investigate the waste water system and the community, motivate responsible management by the community, and support the community’s relationship to this vital, but invisible, infrastructure.
A single project alone could not successfully address the multiple scales contributing to the physical, environmental, and social conditions impacting San Jose’s waste water infrastructure. In response, our proposal takes a multi-pronged approach to achieving greater awareness. This ‘kit of parts’ strategy proposes artistic interventions/projects at multiple scales to address the problems associated with FOG waste in the city’s waste water system. Each intervention addresses a different audience: the individual, the community, the city, and the local ecosystem.
This suite of multi-scalar projects draws better connections between each scale of the city’s system, working strategically to incite community curiosity, to encourage participation in best kitchen practices, and to encourage good environmental stewardship.
Meeting Bar at Plaza Castilla
After years living and working in our office in the neighborhood of Tetuán, Madrid, in the co-working space Studio Banana, we had the opportunity to work on a project in the area through a private client. We knew the neighborhood perfectly: its character, the calm atmosphere, centrality, presence of art workshops, etc. Despite changes in recent years, the character of the neighborhood remains for its residents. Tetuán has been impacted by many of the changes that other cities have in recent years such as:
- Urban progress
- Gentrification or “gentrification”
- Urban Palimpsests
- DESHUMANIZATION public structures
- Aging Population
Tetuán is a district with a lot of architectural contrast. Between 1917 and 1926 this area was known for the “economical house.” These homes still exist in the neighborhood. Our neighbors Dori and her husband, Mary and Manolo, Pedro, etc. have taught us to enjoy the experiences and traditions that remain in the neighborhood.
What if we contemporize the traditions in Tetuán by building a space for social use? What if we transport to the bar the happiness of the group of people that use the Tetuán Street in summer? We could build an “economical houses” with social use.
Open House is a community-built physically transforming House/Theater for York, AL
On June 15 2013, a ribbon cutting by the Mayor of York, Gena Robbins, inaugurated Open House followed with an invocation prayer by Reverend Willie, performances by a gospel choir and the local R&B funk band Time Zone, and a screening of Dr. Suess's The Lorax. Since the opening day, several films and art shorts have been screened and the Mayor held the town meeting in Open House.
Open House is designed to require cooperation and takes four people 1.5 hours to unfold the structure. The foundation of railroad ties anchors custom-fabricated hinges to five rows of stadium seating that fold down with the aid of a hand winch.
Open House directly addresses the lack of public space in York, AL by providing a physical location as common ground for community dialogue and activities. The new structure carries the weight of the past through the materials that were salvaged and repurposed from the old structure. When Open House is fully unfolded, it provides an opportunity for people to come together and experience the community from a new perspective. When it folds back up, it resembles the original abandoned house, reminding people of the history of what was there before. Events of Open House are actively programed by the Coleman Center for the Arts and free to the public
Royal Blue Parklet
The Congress Avenue Parklet, in front of Royal Blue Grocery successfully transformed two angled parking spots into a dynamic, green seating area. The parklet has activated this section of Congress Avenue and created a social gathering spot for downtown residents, employees and Royal Blue customers. The refuge provides counter top and traditional table seating bordered by a metal planter, defining the edges and boasting native and adaptive planting.
Initially envisioned as a napkin sketch, this project matured to reality through an extremely collaborative process. The project was unprecedented and required a great deal of work to achieve compliance with local ordinance. The parklet was made possible through efforts of the City of Austin and urban visionaries such as the Downtown Austin Alliance, Council Member Chris Riley and his staff, and the owners of Royal Blue Grocery.
Austin’s very first parklet, the project represents an innovative adaptation of limited urban space. The project was the recipient of a 2013 Austin Chronicle Best Of Austin Award and the 2013 Urban Land Institute Award of Distinction for Public Impact.
The project is being used as an example by the City of Austin for similar future projects. Council approved that the pilot project become a permanent fixture and ordinance changes are in progress to ease the permitting time and cost barriers. The unanimous nod has been that Austin needs more pocket parks to promote a healthier, pedestrian friendly downtown environment.
Company: Urban Matter Inc
Brooklyn, United States
urbanmatterinc.com | urbanmatterinc.com/silent-lights/
Images 1 | Images 2
Client: Emily Colasacco Director, Urban Art / Summer Streets NYC Department of Transportation
Silent Lights is a commentary on urban living and unused urban spaces. For the residents of northern Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the intersection of Park Avenue and Navy Street is a bleak and noisy place that is best avoided. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) runs directly above the semi-industrial landscape, bringing with it the ever-present roar of the 160,000 cars that traverse it daily, throwing the pavement beneath into permanent shadow. We wanted to make this desolate urban landscape more inviting. The primary inspiration for the piece was the overwhelming loudness of the site and the potential it had of being used for art. We wanted to create an experience that provides a safer route for commuters at night and a point of beauty and engagement at all times.
Silent Lights takes the Expressway’s ever-present traffic noise and makes it visible, illuminating the gloomy, clamorous underpass with a pathway of peaceful lighted gates. The lights respond to the sounds above them, lighting up sequentially as vehicles pass overhead. The hum of the traffic thus becomes a tangible, reactive presence rather than a hidden aggravation, and passersby can walk beneath the multicolored gates to experience a moment of respite from the constant noise. The installation also acts as a way-finding element, making the inconspicuous pedestrian pathway more visible and engaging.
Station CAP METROpolis
Created by: Cole Cappel, Jordan Frazin, and Kathleen Bartholomew
Dallas, United States
In Jane Jacobs’ Life and Death of Great American Cities, she describes an intricate sidewalk ballet that brings together diverse movements, interactions and ideas to create a bustling streetscape. Just as a ballet consists of technical choreography in harmony with a fluid musical composition, a train station should also consist of well-placed and well-designed features to entice an active flow of riders.
In June of 2014, Capital Metro, Austin’s public transportation provider, was awarded $50 million from TxDOT’s Unified Transportation Program - $22 million of which will be spent redesigning the existing downtown station just north of the Austin Convention Center.
The downtown station improvements serve as an incredible opportunity to promote the integration of connectivity, space making, environmental sensitivity, and community engagement to make the station not just a place of arrival and departure, but a destination in itself. Additionally, this station is the only downtown light rail station along the 32-mile commuter route and these improvements come at a time when alternative transportation is being touted as the way to alleviate many traffic woes in one of America’s fastest growing cities.
Our proposed station’s themes and design techniques, which engage riders and the larger community, will serve as a template that can be easily built into additional stations as Cap Metro and the Austin City Council continue to push forward on the Project Connect Central Corridor Urban Rail - an additional rail line through the city’s densest central communities and UT Austin.
The Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake
Company: The Trail Foundation
Austin, United States
www.thetrailfoundation.org | www.TheTrailFoundation.org/Boardwalk | www.austintexas.gov/department/boardwalk-trail-lady-bird-lake
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In a unique public/private partnership, the City of Austin and The Trail Foundation worked closely to close the gap in the Butler Trail with the Boardwalk - a partially overland and partially overwater trail that extends about a half mile on each side of IH-35. The Boardwalk serves as both a recreational and alternative transportation route for the growing Austin urban core.
This project provides safe, continuous ADA compliant pedestrian and bicycle access along a beautiful section of the public’s lake and parkland. Visitors and citizens of all levels of ability are able to access the town’s lake and have a safe transportation alternative to riding in a car. Completing this section of lakefront trail also links communities on the city’s east side to the downtown area as well as to the west side.
The completion of this section of the Trail closed a large gap in our transportation and recreation system and is an investment in our quality of life and will serve Austinites from every corner of our community.
Company: Design Workshop
Austin, United States
www.designworkshop.com | worldlandscapearchitect.com/the-lakehouse-austin-usa-design-workshop/
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Our design concept for Seaholm is a re-imagining of a decommissioned water intake facility in a precious location on Austin’s waterfront. Public spaces are a reflection of our culture and civic health. The Lakehouse would be a place where the community engages with one of Austin’s greatest amenities, Lady Bird Lake. We allow people of all ages to relax, reflect, play and connect without leaving the heart of downtown. It could nurture the family of Austin today, but also inspires love for the City’s unique character for future generations. A sustainable approach to this vision preserves a sense of place, stays relevant to a changing community, leads sustainable development and is economically solvent. The Lakehouse focuses on the natural amenity: the lake. We addressed existing barriers to the site and diversify the reasons for visiting. To connect downtown with the Lake, we rethink the design of Cesar Chavez Street. By reducing the number of lanes and applying a more pedestrian sensitive design, it is possible to reduce crossing times and distances by 30 percent. Even after this lane reduction, the street is still capable of handling 10 percent more traffic than it currently carries. At the Lake’s edge, floating only a few inches above water level, an architectural “barge” allows visitors to further engage with the water, inviting them to dip their feet into the lake. The Lakehouse connects people to a unique place through low-environmental impact, connectivity and innovation in preservation design.
The Park at the Horse Farm
The Horse Farm, previously owned by the University of Louisiana, has a rich and varied history and is the last remaining significantly sized piece of beautiful undeveloped public property within central Lafayette, Louisiana. After widespread community outcry, the University withdrew its plans for commercial development of the property and began negotiations to sell the property to the Lafayette Consolidated Government. For eight years, advocacy groups, neighbors and businesses supported the municipal government’s plans to purchase the land for use as a new city park. Lafayette is currently underserved by park space acreage per capita, and the preservation of this park adds 10% to the total greenspace in the community. A weekly Farmers and Artisan Market and events for a Master Gardeners program are currently two programming elements that the Park is used for today.
Design Workshop lead a robust public engagement effort for the Lafayette community to determine which programs belonged in the park, and how the community wanted it to be designed. Design Workshop implemented cutting-edge creative engagement strategies to gain valuable feedback about stakeholder preferences for park programs and facilities. Over 7,400 residents were eager to share their visions for the park with the Design Workshop team. This effort resulted in a celebrated, world-class design embraced by the entire community, as demonstrated by the unanimous approval of the park master plan by the City-Parish Council in June 2014.