Marc Lefkowitz | 11/14/07 @ 4:14pm
Young architects from Vancouver, Nick Sully and Hannah Teicher took top prize among 70 entries from around the country in the first Cleveland Design Competition, which generated ideas to improve an overgrown green space on the Flats west bank near Ohio City known as Irish Town Bend.
Because the soil on the hillside is unstable, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority has stated it doesn't plan to build there, so it was no surprise to competition co-organizer Brad Fink that the top three prize winners all proposed light touches, including gardens, small paths and terraces. Sully and Teicher's arguably largest development is an "urban wetland."
"We had a large scale, fairly dramatic solution to cut a channel into the Cuyahoga River and turn one of the bends of the river into a wetland, and connect Ohio City to downtown Cleveland," Sully explains in a podcast to Vancouver blogger JJ Lee.
"We suggested creating this new path with stairs and ramps that would extend through an agricultural terrace and at different points you'd get glimpses of the city," adds Teicher. "As you descend, you'd see this old archeological site-which was the old Irish shanty town-and eventually get down to the river. You'd cross the river on a pedestrian bridge which would react to the wetland. As (the wetland) silts up over time, you could get closer to it and be right in it."
Why did Fink and co-organizer Michael Christoff pick a site that has such obvious soil issues and an owner (CMHA) who previously stated it wouldn't 'develop' the site?
"The intent of the 2007 competition was to bring attention to the site and expose its opportunities," Fink explains. "Mike and I can continue to promote discussion about the site which hopefully builds enough momentum...there would need to be a coordinated effort by several entities and the commitment of citizens to 'do something' at the site.
"In 2008, we will find yet another challenging site and focus our efforts in soliciting new ideas."
The presentations from the top three entrants will be on display at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative from June 21 to July 30. Or, view them at the Cleveland Design Competition's gallery.