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Design more Natural Flats

Marc Lefkowitz  |  09/16/10 @ 11:00am

In May 2006, Cleveland Public Art and local artist Don Harvey introduced, "The Natural Flats: A Field Guide to Habitat in Unexpected Places" with stunning photographs of official and forgotten green spaces in, of all places, the Industrial Flats. The map also provides a suggested cycling or driving tour where one can see a reemerging ecosystem of wildflowers, migrating birds or even enjoy a quiet snowfall by the riverbank.

Natural habitat hard by heavy industry has inspired the first Cleveland Design Competition, which has a call for entries out to design solutions for Irish Town Bend, a storied hillside along the Cuyahoga River's west bank.

The site lies unused, overgrown, and largely inaccessible after storied histories as an Irish shanty settlement, river's edge distribution site, immigrant neighborhood and post-war public housing complex, writes competition organizers Bradley Fink and Michael Christoff.

Having taken a guided tour of The Natural Flats, it's instructive to see the tangle of invasive Japanese honeysuckle choking out native plants like Common Milkweed on the Irish Town Bend hillside. And to examine the remnants of the Clark Street Bridge on which workers once walked to the steel mills from nearby neighborhoods. Design solutions might deal with some of the most invasive species, enhance opportunities for natives while creating small, low-impact observation spaces and some signage to enjoy the confluence of the area's natural and industrial heritage.

Harvey will give a presentation on the Natural Flats this Friday, a (non-required) opportunity for those interested in submitting a proposal for the Cleveland Design Competition, which is accepting entries until May 1.

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