Sunday, December 13, 2009

Urban Development Thoughts

When the East Mall Apartments in East Liberty were finally scheduled for demolition, the location community organization ELDI held a street party in which the much maligned apartments were shot with paint balloons launched from giant slingshots. For years the building that straddled Penn Avenue was looked at, not only as substandard housing, but a physical barrier between Garfield and East Liberty. Still, for some, it was home.

When the Mellon (née Civic) Arena was finally made obsolete, a local architect and preservationist proposed the saving of the structure as a park and a public space. For years the building that straddled what was left of Wylie Avenue was looked at, not only as a failed attempt at urban development, but a physical barrier between Downtown and the Hill District. Still for some, it was (at one point) the site of their homes.

If someone was really clever here, they'd point out the strange parallels between the two stories with regards to neighborhood interests, the interest of the development elite, and the role of architecture reflecting differing urban narratives between the two interests.

If someone was really clever, that is.


Rob Pfaffmann said...

As the author of the idea, and someone who has seen "differing urban narratives" my whole career, thank you. There is much irony in much of what we do in economic development. Some of it we can control and some of it we cant.

I do believe in the redemptive power place and design in our communities. The most rewarding part of collaborative design is watching people who have been marginalized in the process bring great ideas to the table and also at the same time, start to understand the economics of building things.

If it is easy, it probably is isnt worth doing!

Bram Reichbaum said...

It should be made into partially a en-domed soccer & athletics field, open to amateur leagues during lunch, lighted at night when active, and replete always with licensed vendors for all manner of food and goods as seasonally appropriate. Also a good space for carnivals and events. Get that commercial activity out of Point State Park where it doesn't benefit anybody or anything (market that for upscale / distinguished tourism), and bring the merchants within strolling distance of a neighborhood that both needs stimulus and de-mystification.

Also, somebody should figure out Mike Doyle's idea about a "green bubble" over the XE. Or somebody should draw it. Because you never know, that might not be as wretched as it sounds.

Anonymous said...

sorry what is "XE" ?

O said...

I'm assuming that Bram means the "Crosstown Expressway", although he could be referring to the Noble Gas Xenon.

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