Collage by Design Camp student Maisha showing a potential teen center on the lower level of The Bridge.
This past week, a talented group of young people at the Lakeview Terrace Community Center shared their vision of the potential future use of the lower level of the Bridge. Local designer and educator Larissa Itomlenskis, in collaboration with the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC), worked closely with more than a dozen young people, ranging in age from ten to sixteen years old at the Community Center, engaging in a dialogue about what the potential future use of the bridge may be, and what it would mean in their community.
One of the main goals of the week was to create a space for honest dialogue about neighborhood needs. Much of the value of the camp came through the conversations in studio about what resources, events, and activities people want and value. The camp then explored possible design solutions to address some of these issues.
A field trip to the lower level of the bridge led by the Department of Public Works introduced the students to the principles of urban design and connectivity, a sense of scale, and relying on their sketchbooks to draw out their intended proposals.
Observations from the bridge included the vastness of the space, climate control issues, a lack of sufficient lighting, but also an overall appreciation of the space and the potential it has to be a unique destination both in their neighborhood and in Cleveland. Site observations by the students also included a psychological sense of disconnect between the bridge and Lakeview Terrace, despite its location a mere five-minute walk from the Community Center, or as urbanist Andreas Duany would put it, “Nearby is so far away.”
“I was somewhat surprised that many of the students said they preferred to walk through the Flats as opposed to walking across the top of the bridge to get downtown, but after seeing just how dangerous some of the intersections on W. 25th between Lakeview Terrace and the bridge can be with Shoreway traffic and major truck routes to the Flats, it began to make sense,” says CUDC urban designer and instructor for the camp Jeff Kruth. “There is a real sense of isolation and disconnect from the rest of the near west side, downtown, and their amenities, which the Bridge Project could potentially help to alleviate,” says Kruth.
Students spent the rest of the camp developing design concepts and translating ideas into drawings and collage renderings. At the end of the week, CUDC director Terry Schwarz visited the studio to discuss student work with the designers themselves.
"The students approached this work with a great deal of energy,” says Ms. Schwarz. I enjoyed talking with them and will incorporate their ideas into the planning process for the bridge.
“We wanted to create a workspace that was fun, but focused and productive. It’s a design studio. It’s the real thing,” says Ms. Itomlenskis.
Some ideas that were developed during design camp:
- More park space and trees in the area
- A place to play football
- A space for basketball and dunk contests
- A Spa
- An amusement park
- A teen center
- Music venues
- A homeless shelter
- Snack shops and restaurants
- Tour buses, souvenir shops, and activities specifically for tourists
- An ice skating rink
- A swimming pool
- Places for shopping
- Trams to make it easier to cross the bridge
- Places to hang out and relax
“We tried to underscore that design is an iterative process. You’ve got to get as many ideas out of your head as possible, and be willing to sort through them and build on them. We needed to create an environment where people felt comfortable sharing their ideas. It took a few days to establish that, but then things really got going. We’re very proud of the students and the work they accomplished,” says Itomlenskis.
A major component of the camp was to not only open up students to ideas about design and creativity, but to keep the community dialogue and momentum going. CUDC’s partners at Lakeview Terrace Community Center, Ms. Williams and Ms. Steele, have expressed interest in sharing students’ design work with residents of the Lakeview Terrace community, and there are plans to exhibit the work during the Cleveland Competition awards ceremony in October.
“We want kids to understand that thinking creatively is a valuable skill. There are many professions open to them that rely on it — whether in business, design or the arts. We talked about architecture, design, engineering, advertising, illustration and entrepreneurship. It really is exciting, and we want to link what was accomplished in design camp with future career opportunities.”
Thank you to our partners Jeffery Patterson, Kristie Grove, BerRonica Steele, and Katherine Williams of CMHA for their support in making the the 2012 Lakeview design camp possible, and to Terry Schwarz for being a key collaborator and advocate of design education for young people.
Students' ideas for the lower level of the Bridge and surrounding area:
Performance space and football field. New Buildings and recreation spaces.
Pool and multi-season uses. Rock climbing wall, trams, and fun park.
Exploration and concept studies: