Title: Urban Redevelopment Study (Graduate studio) / Client: City of Louisville / Location: LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY / Site area: appx. 1.700.000 ㎡ / Design Participation: SPACE GROUP: Gary Bates ; JDS: Julien de Smedt ; UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY: Michael Speaks, Jason Scroggin, Rebekah Schaberg, Hilary Shea, Sarah Kays, Teddi Hibberd, Katie Howell, Derek Phillips, Eric Huelsman, Ian McHone, Joy Leonard, Ashley Gallager, James Rich, Andrew Owens
- Gary Bates lecture
- Course introduction
- "Urban Ruptures" : student´s essays
- Final book
- Final studio model
At a time when questions of urban continuity cohesion and readability no longer are easily answered, the program “Urban Ruptures” seeks new references for urban development and identity, investigating abrupt shifts in urban conditions - and effects of the globalized economy meeting local conditions with various degrees of resistance and potentials - searching urban progress and new identity.
The course will introduce students to events, processes and structures that create urban poverty and decline.
Cities can be read as ruptures, physical traces of otherwise invisible mechanisms. This may appear as breaks in the urban structure, scale, hierarchies, ideals, visions or identity as a result of political, economical and cultural development – consequences of the global meeting the local. Rather than the traditional transformation project, where program and structure are manipulated within a clearly defined zone, will the project be a thematic study of the city as result of discontinuous processes.
The city – more often than not – does not evolve according to planned urban strategies and continuous growth – but takes form in growth or decline - according to radical shifts, natural or man–made, planned and non-planned events
– urban ruptures:
Political/economic/social/cultural changes, technical or infrastructural leaps of progress, drastic changes in legal or religious frameworks or wars and natural catastrophes.
The interaction and timing of these events, coincidental juxtapositions of the local and global evolution – are more inseparable than ever in our time of a globalized economy and instant communication.
The URBAN RUPTURE studios – aims to study unique examples of these meetings between the global and the local and discuss the complexity of effects on the transformation of the city.
2 diagrams – one for each city - of historic timelines tracing ruptures- events and effects.
For each city: 4 references/examples illustrating projects/processes that represents essential leaps in the urban development. (new structures/typologies/pseudo events
Evolution of Programs
Related to historical shifts/jumps
1. Research and Education
2. Sport and Leisure
3. Dwellings I
4. Dwellings II
5. Transportation and development
6. Public parks and recreational facilities
7. Museums and monuments
8. Social and public arenas
The relationship to the ideology of which they are representing should be analyzed and the departure for this discussion.
Parameters for the comparative study should include issues of program, scale, political agenda, social agenda, propaganda- / branding potential, role of the architect, uniqueness and experimental nature.
"URBAN RUPTURES" : STUDENT´S ESSAYS
Government Merger 2003
by Rebekah Schaberg
In 2003, the Louisville City Government and the Jefferson County Government merged to create the Louisville Metro Government. This issue had been a topic of discussion for Louisville for many years, but the threat that Lexington posed as an ever-growing population (with an already consolidated city-county government) acted as the tipping grain of sand for Louisville. The decision meant that Louisville would remain the largest city in Kentucky, which would continue the established gravitational pull for businesses and events which naturally are attracted to the largest city centers in an area—whether that city’s size is actual or perceived.
The county government brought with it land, suburban cities (a concept I will return to later), the airport, and a large population. These assets attributed to the afore-mentioned gravitational pull which Louisville holds in the state of Kentucky. The city government, on the other hand, offered amenities such as an expanded Brightside Program (for the beautification of neighborhoods), mosquito control (which has since nearly eliminated the threat of West Nile Virus), a property tax relief, an expanded and improved Metro Call program, and a drainage initiative plan. Louisville’s successful merger has become a model for many cities in the United States.
In general, this merger improved communication within Jefferson County and forced cooperation within a larger network of individuals. Several offices were consolidated, producing funding for program initiatives such as the Corridors of Opportunities in Louisville, or ‘COOL.’ COOL’s objective is to serve underserved neighborhoods in Louisville. Some of their objectives are to: identify corridors of retail opportunities for businesses wishing to open or relocate; serve as a liaison between businesses and neighborhoods; sanction loans to new businesses; and locate ‘empty big box’ stores which may be reinhabited by new businesses.
When the governments consolidated, the Mayor of Louisville visited suburban communities asking for ideas from the public about what kind of amenities each population would like to receive from the city. COOL took this information along with a study which located ‘empty big boxes’ (large box stores such as Kroger and Walgreens) in Jefferson County, and began to replace those businesses with new amenities comparable to those asked for by the community. The location of these ‘empty big boxes’ corresponds to the location of the ‘suburban cities’ of Louisville--small towns on the periphery of the city which may previously have had unique identities, but are in danger now of becoming generic replicas of one another. The combination of these two programmatic locations produces a semi-ring of Jefferson County communities around Louisville’s city center. While COOL’s practice of replacing ‘empty big boxes’ with new big box stores acts as an immediate financial fix, it attributes to the decline of unique individual towns. COOL is generalizing Louisville’s outer neighborhoods.
Instead of developing each suburban city generically, COOL could break down the peripheral corridor into zones based on character. Each zone could then be developed in a singular fashion with unique attributes, perhaps reaching back into its particular past or looking toward a new identity. When a city offers diverse environments, it is more likely to attract and retain a larger population whose needs vary. The proposed diagram (a literal zoning for Louisville’s surrounding communities) is not an actual proposal for these zones of unique development, but rather is a model for possible division in order to begin to analyze how each suburban city operates within itself, and how COOL could then begin to assist each community in attracting the kind of program that would further enhance their individual characters.
An example for developing individual character within a suburban city could mean the redefinition of the town center. Grocery stores, or ‘big boxes,’ have inadvertently become the new center for many small towns. People no longer congregate in the town square, but rather in places of retail and commerce. Parking lots, which usually take up over twice as much area as the stores themselves, have begun to take over the landscape in these small towns. Driving down a major road, one is surrounded by concrete parking lots with large box stores seen in the distance, rather than the three to four story high structures directly abutting the road, as is seen on a traditional Main Street.
Rather than fight this tendency, there is the opportunity to capitalize on the existing infrastructure that has been established by ‘big boxes’ and their enormous parking lots. By switching the programs of these duos—replacing the stores with service facilities and transplanting program into the open lots—these areas can become lively town centers, promoting local produce and culture while still providing the amenities of a ‘big box’ store. The \ merger of City and County governments in Louisville yielded several exciting and potentially advantageous programs. The city was able to consolidate funds in order to create new programs which are hopeful in nature, if somewhat shallowly implemented. “Corridors of Opportunity in Louisville” has been successful in gathering useful information about the outer ring of suburban cities in Jefferson County, transplanting businesses in available retail spaces, and providing assistance to new businesses in the area, but has failed to consider and promote the identities of each community as a separate and unique entity. The consolidated government, however, has time to consider the future development of the peripheral zone in Louisville.
Louisville Public Housing
Public housing in Louisville can be divided into four chronological periods, beginning in the 1940s. The first efforts, big block housing, resulted from the Urban Renewal Act and the National Housing Act of 1934, which provided federal funding for public housing in areas considered slums. Big block housing of the 1940s consists 2-3 story buildings arranged around courtyards, oft en occupying six or more adjacent blocks and located primarily in the downtown area. Development of these projects reveals the political mentality of the time: slums are a problem attributed to a specific, oft en racial, demographic and not a function of the city system as a whole.
Another problem was that some areas that were deemed slums, like, for example, Little Africa, are not. On the contrary, though a lower income area, by the 1920s, Little Africa had developed into a vibrant community with independent community centers and libraries. Even so, housing authorities considered Little Africa a slum and as a result it was converted to Cotter and Lang Homes. Senior housing of the 1970s, the second phase of public housing, reveals a switch in the dominant public housing needs from a more or less strictly economic demographic, to an age (income as secondary) based demographic. The scale of these developments changes from the prior multi-block projects to single block high-rise developments, possibly due to the ratio of units needed to land area available for development. Dosker Manor, downtown and immediately adjacent to the Clarksdale projects, is characteristic of these developments with its three, seventeen floor buildings located within a single block (a total of around seven hundred units).
Thus, the development style is more or less the identical to the multi block housing of the 1940s: a large low-density development, only this type compresses itself into a single block. The third phase of public housing takes place in the 1980s and 90s. Referred to as scatter sites, new public housing is realized at much smaller scale, per site, than previous public housing with total units numbering literally in the thousands. These sites are distributed across the entire metro area as a reaction to the continual decentralization of the population of Louisville. No localized slums exist in the suburbs, thus no large block area could be demolished and replaced. Rather, scatter sites are placed into the preexisting block/neighborhood fabric of the city. The scale of these projects range from a duplex to a small apartment complex.
Towards the end of the 1990s, the views on public housing underwent an apparently “radical” change. The Louisville Metro Housing Authority decided to redevelop the big block housing of the 1940s still in use within the city. More specifically, they focused on the Cotter and Lang Homes and Clarksdale projects, which are now, respectively, the Villages of Park Duvalle and Liberty Green. These renewal efforts are joint ventures (LMHA, US Dept. of Housing, Louisville Metro Gov., and various private partners) and are primarily intended to make needed improvements to developments that are considered hotbeds of crime, real and perceived.
Secondarily, the renewal efforts are intended to attract new populations into the downtown area.
However, the overall approach has not changed much since the 40s: identification of “slums,” removal, and new multi-block development. Areas considered slums seen are seen as isolated problems rather than symptomatic of the city as a whole. The only real differences from 1940 to 2000 lies in marketing, or presentation of the new housing projects, as exemplified by Liberty Green’s slogan: “Neighborhood Living. Downtown.” In effect, Liberty Green is a suburban development in the heart of downtown Louisville, an attempt to lure suburbanites into the city. The result of such developments is further suburbanization— and thus deterioration—of the urban fabric; it imports suburban architectural style and a slightly increased subdivision of the block.
It is hard to imagine that these projects will not succumb to the same fate as projects from the 1940s. And, if they do fail, they are likely to do so for the same reason: because these housing projects are internalized, self-contained entities. Such isolation is problematic and is one of the principal causes of the current housing situation in Louisville. A glaring example of this can be seen in the failure of Liberty Green’s to address the periphery. A brief overview of the surrounding programs and density shows primarily open lots and large scale program, i.e. industrial distribution centers, warehouses, hospitals, Dosker Manor, Interstate 65, expansive parking, vacant buildings and empty lots. A few churches and residences are the only small scale, housing related programs. Th e adjacencies serve as a container for the new housing, not as connective tissue. Th e lack of concern for the periphery, or the actual environment of the new housing, makes it impossible for these new housing projects to accomplish their stated goal to improve the overall conditions of its inhabitants. Further, as we see in other new developments, the ability to lure in new occupants is yet unproven. Whatever else ails housing in Louisville, these latter problems must be addressed if any real solutions are ever to be developed.
Olmsted Park System
Louisville’s park system began in 1891 when the mayor of Louisville contracted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design a system of much needed recreational space for the city’s inhabitants. Olmsted’s proposal called for three principal parks to be placed around the periphery of the city. All of the parks were to be connected by tree-lined parkways and were to provide similar recreational opportunities, all while maintaining distinct personalities evidenced by their individual landscapes.
Today the three principal parks—Shawnee,
Iroquois, and Cherokee—are still the focal points of the Olmsted system. Shawnee, located on the Westside of Louisville, is dominated by large vistas and views of the river; Iroquois, located on the Southside of town, consists of woodlands and hilly conditions; while Cherokee, on the East side, is characteristic of the iconic bluegrass landscape. Since their creation, many satellite parks have developed throughout the city as well. Although pleasing and well maintained, the park system has fallen short on achieving Olmsted’s goal of creating a park for all to use. After conducting interviews with inhabitants of Louisville, we found that there are many residents who have lived their entire lives in the city and still have not been to all three of the Olmsted parks. Many people on the East end of Louisville near Cherokee have never been to Shawnee or Iroquois. The origins of this divide does not fall on the shoulders of the park system; rather, it is the result of an existing socioeconomic split down the center of the city caused by the damage of 1937 flood. The effects of the flood are still evident in today’s urban fabric, with lower income families congregating on the West Side—in the flood plane—while higher-income
Given these conditions, have the park’s utopian ideals survived this ever-increasing racial and economic rift? Has the park system continued to evolve in order to repair this gap, or has the system done little to encourage a cohesive community spirit? Shawnee, Iroquois, and Cherokee provide the same activities to their neighborhoods, including playground areas, fishing, biking, walking and picnic areas. As mentioned above, the parks were created on the outskirts of the city and since their inception the city’s inhabitants have gravitated towards them creating, as a result, thriving neighborhoods. The major shortfall of the system is the very same thing that has made it truly unique: the parkways. The parkways were designed to move traffic around the city’s growing neighborhoods. Today, the roadways are heavily used and operate rather smoothly with the exception of a disconnection at their meeting point (Fig 1). This separation needs to be addressed in order to provide a truly fluid park system where all the parks are accessible via one another; only then will the three separate parks become a whole as the original scheme strived towards. This holistic approach can be created with the bridging of the parkway system and the addition of bike and walking paths throughout (Fig 2).
ADDITIONS AND FUTURE PLANS
Louisville has taken several measures to build upon Olmsted’s legacy by adding many metro parks, the largest being Waterfront Park. This new addition is programmatically similar to Shawnee, Iroquois, and Cherokee, but its location is quite different. Instead of being surrounded by housing in the suburbs, Waterfront Park is located downtown and wedged between the river and the interstate. In terms of experience, the Olmsted parks act as a host for smaller events/experiences of nature and community, whereas the Waterfront Park has become the host for many of the city’s largest events. Another contemporary effort is the City of Parks project. This plan intends to go beyond the boundaries of the city and connect many of the metro parks with a 100 mile loop. This loop will connect over 32 communities, 24 public transportation routes, as well as, come within a quarter mile of 23 schools.
The goals of the Olmstead Park System, including the additions by the metro park system, are to encourage interaction between a socially divided Louisville by promoting equality and tolerance though an active recreational atmosphere. Despite its good intentions, this plan has fallen short. As a method of updating these objectives, the parkways need to be bridged in order to create a truly unified park system; a model of homogeneity for a divided city.
With 557,789 residents, Louisville is the 29th most populous city in the United States. Over the course of the year, however, Louisville experiences intense bursts of population. The most extreme example of this influx occurs during the first two weeks of May when the legendary Kentucky Derby Festival and horse race are held. People travel to Louisville from all over the world to participate in the two-week long festival. During these two weeks, the population of Louisville skyrockets to 1.5 million and the city becomes the 4th most populous city in the nation.
The population of Louisville also fluctuates on a daily basis. In order to analyze this, data was collected for a typical Friday (see chart to the right). Every day, more than 100,000 people commute to Louisville. This increases the population of the city significantly from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the week, the population settles back down after 5pm to around 550,000; however, on Friday nights there is a second population surge due to the abundant nightlife present in the city. In addition to the daily fluctuation and the extreme increase in population during the Derby, there are other events held in Louisville over the course of the year that contribute to the city’s ever-changing virtual population (see chart below).
The University of Louisville has a student body of over 25,000 who reside in the city from January to May and again from August to December. The University also brings around 50,000 fans into Louisville every weekend during football and basketball season. This year, Louisville is the host city for the Ryder Cup, auditions for American Idol, and an Iron Man Competition. All of these events bring tens of thousands of people into the city throughout the year, pulling and pushing at its infrastructure.
The most intriguing aspect about Louisville’s virtual population is the fact that the city is hardly equipped to handle the strain of the excess populous. Residents often rent out their houses and driveways to visitors so that they have somewhere to sleep and park. The virtual population of Louisville is an extremely important issue that needs to be brought to the attention of all those striving to improve the city.
Flood of 1937
The city of Louisville was founded when boats shipping supplies down the Ohio River were forced to unload before descending the falls. Goods were then trucked overland and then reloaded downriver, in Portland, to continue their journey inland. The economic opportunities in the port areas were seemingly endless, which led to the accelerated urban development around the Portland area. This all came to an end, however, with the Great Flood of 1937, which severed Portland from the rest of the city. Ultimately, the flood would influence the implementation of the levee system, the location of downtown development, and the implicit division between the eastern and western halves of the city.
Excessive rain in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers caused the Flood. Reports claimed that Louisville received rain 27 out of the 31 days of January, with some areas of the city receiving more than 10 inches of rain. In addition, the cold weather of January had frozen the ground, which promoted the movement of groundwater. This resulted in immense flooding in the city, as levees proved insufficient for such a substantial downpour. At the height of the flooding, 70% of the city reported submersion, resulting in more than $75 million worth of claimed damages. Hence, the river that was responsible for the establishment and prosperity of the city was also responsible for its near destruction. As a consequence,
Louisville opted to direct further core development eastward- away from the flood plain. However, this contributed to a stark divide, as growth and prosperity was allocated to the east side of the city while urban development in the older, western end of Louisville was halted. With this, much of the emphasis of Louisville being a “river city” was diminished.
After the Flood, the United States Army Corp of Engineers was assigned an expanded role in flood protection.
Construction of the first phase of the city’s protection system was begun by the Louisville District of the Corps in 1948 and completed in 1957. It consisted of 4.5 miles of concrete wall in the downtown area, 12.5 miles of earthen levee, 13 pumping stations, and 50 street closures. One of the pumping stations, located on Beargrass Creek, was designed to pump 2.5 million gallons of water per minute, making it the largest pump of its kind in the world at the time. The second phase, the Southwest Jefferson County Protection Project, was completed in 1988, bringing the total length of the system to twenty-nine miles of concrete wall and earthen levee. The entire system was constructed by the Corps of Engineers and is currently operated and maintained by
the Metropolitan Sewer District.
WWII Economic Boom
In 1918, the Standard Oil Company created an industrial complex in what would become the Rubbertown district of Louisville. As this complex grew, similar businesses came to the area, including gasoline, kerosene, oil and petroleum coke refineries. War II stimulated growth in these industries. The federal government claimed some of the plants for airplane production and built additional plants to manufacture calcium carbide and acetylene gases. Other plants included BF Goodrich and DuPont, which produced synthetic rubber products, which became instrumental to the war effort. Most of the industry generated during World War II remained afterwards.
After the war, companies such as Curtiss-Wright Aircraft were not needed as they had been during wartime. Many new companies, however, purchased and retooled these decommissioned factories. For example, International Harvester Corporation, a leading producer of tractors, bought Curtiss-Wright and converted it for their operations. As a result of this and similar conversions, the Rubbertown area is today a prominent industrial and economic center. World War II made it possible for Louisville to become the industrial powerhouse in the Commonwealth and in the region that it is today.
Ford Motor Company
The Ford Motor Company established its first Louisville based manufacturing plant in 1913; assembling 12 Model T’s per day and employing 17 workers. Over the past 95 years, Ford’s presence in Louisville has increased dramatically, spurring the relocation of the its manufacturing facilities to several different locations. There are currently two operating assembly facilities in Louisville: the Louisville Assembly Plant, located just south of Louisville International Airport and the Kentucky Truck Plant located in the East End along the Gene Snyder Freeway.
As demand increased over the years for Ford vehicles, production also increased. This meant an increased workforce and therefore a need for an increased facility footprint. Because of this need for space, Ford gradually moved its facilities further and further from the city center over the years, eventually locating itself in the suburbs where land was less expensive and more readily available. In 1969 Ford began operations at the Kentucky Truck Plant located on the outskirts of the city of Louisville. This was its largest operation to date, employing 4500 workers and occupying 415 acres. This facility currently produces the F-series trucks along with the Expedition and Navigator, however with the rise in fuel prices and increased concerns for the environment, Ford is looking to manufacture a more environmentally friendly vehicle at this facility.
With the introduction of Ford into the suburbs, the fabric of the community surrounding the plant began to transform. An influx of workers facilitated the birth of neighborhoods and supplemental programs transforming the area that was once dominated by farms and open land. This transition fueled an exodus to the suburbs as workers desired to be closer to their place of employment, draining the residential population from the city center. The impact of the exodus of industry from the city to the suburbs not only affects the area immediately surrounding the new suburban plant, but also impacts the areas where the plants once existed, displacing residents and businesses that support the workforce.
FINAL STUDIO MODEL :