Re-threading the Urban Landscape

Laure Goode

David Watts

March 2021

The Sidaway Bridge was destroyed in a moment of racial hate over 50 years ago. Now long overgrown and impassible, the bridge represents the physical embodiment of continued injustice. But the separation that has grown between the Broadway-Slavic Village and Kinsman neighborhoods does not have to be permanent. This project examines design solutions to inequality, using vacant and abandoned land as the canvas. The final, scaled design encompasses a range of interventions spread across multiple typologies of abandonment. This approach leads to solutions that can be completed on a personal, organization, and civic level in the neighborhoods and can pave the way for people to take control of their surroundings. By creating shared spaces where user groups interests relate and overlap, as well as supporting infrastructure that helps both the neighborhoods thrive, the project will foster a shared sense of community and ownership within Cleveland.

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Cleveland is in the midst of a roadway revitalization project called the Opportunity Corridor. Originating less than a mile away, the opportunity corridor project is essentially a ground-level interstate extension that cuts through some of Cleveland’s most blighted neighborhoods. The project is purported to bring investment to these struggling neighborhoods, but the real purpose is to carry commuters to the University Circle area. Despite the questionable intent of the roadway, it can offer potential connections and investment for residents.

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Site

Cleveland has lost half its population since 1950. Loss of industry, increased vacancy and abandonment, high concentrations of both poverty and crime, and racial segregation that is upheld by systematic as well as physical barriers has contributed to the decline. Demographic changes, segregation, and redlining in Kinsman led to a lack of connectivity between the Black population of Kinsman and the Slavic residents of North Broadway. Telling the full story of a place takes commitment to the past. The uncovering of the true story of the bridge took time and research, and that research taught me that this kind story is not unique to Cleveland. Uncovering these stories is not just a historian’s job. Landscape architects can correct these injustices for future populations.

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There are several influential, service-oriented community organizations that serve Kinsman and North Broadway separately. Rather than creating new community operations, my solution will provide opportunities for the multiple grassroots organizations to collaborate.

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Scope

If there is a bright side to Cleveland’s vacancy crisis, it is the opportunity the situation offers to redesign neighborhoods in ways that are better suited to the needs of current and future populations. Assembling vacant lots for greenways, community gardens, recreational space and other neighborhood amenities will stimulate housing markets and encourage new development. The city’s land banks’ holdings continue to grow. Coordinated strategies for managing and reusing properties in the land bank can help direct development to the areas where it is most needed and most likely to be successful. This project shows how targeted interventions can change the trajectory of a neighborhood.

The Kitchen: the vacant industrial building will become The Kitchen: a produce shop, food bank, and restaurant that will offer free/‘pay it forward’ meals to those with food insecurity. The adjacent side lot will serve as an outdoor event space with storable movable furniture and games. Sting lighting will keep the area well lit, activated, and safe.

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The Kitchen is an example of how buildings and accompanying lots can be repurposed, priming the area for eventual re-investment. The Kitchen will provide resources for both Slavic Village and Kinsman, can become a neighborhood hub for the multiple organizations across the area, and will work with the neighboring garden and Kinsman’s other large-scale urban farm developments including the Rid-All Green Partnership and Green City Growers.

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Community Garden: the stand-alone lot is located across the street from the Heritage Homes, the new Garden Valley housing project. The lot’s adjacency to the homes is vital: it is the largest concentration of people in any vicinity to the bridge. The garden will support those that live next door, but also can provide food for The Kitchen, educational opportunities for those at nearby Anton Grdina Elementary School, and will draw on neighbors from Slavic Village for collaboration.

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The Kitchen: the vacant industrial building will become The Kitchen: a produce shop, food bank, and restaurant that will offer free/‘pay it forward’ meals to those with food insecurity. The adjacent side lot will serve as an outdoor event space with storable movable furniture and games. Sting lighting will keep the area well lit, activated, and safe.

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Solution

The site design is focused on 4 lots: 2 on either side of the Sidaway Bridge. The sites were chosen to reflect varying typologies of abandonment: an abandoned bridge, an aggregate collection of vacant lots, one side lot, a stand-alone lot, and a vacant building. On either side of the bridge in both Kinsman and Slavic Village, these solutions are created to work in tandem with nearby existing community resources, strengthening resources for both communities in addition to reconnecting them.

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ABOUT ME

Hi! I’m Laure. I’m from Chicago and came out here in 2016 for school. It’s been a great experience. But I knew I wanted my senior project to be in an area I’m more familiar with. My parents and godmother have lived in Cleveland and we’ve visited this bridge for a few years now. I chose this site so I could delve into the history and research the area more. Looking forward, I’m interested in researching how to build and represent social justice in the landscape.