Curbed — “How an Architecture Firm Wants to Revitalize Cities”

September 16, 2016

“The new Civic Commons proposal, developed by architects, designers, and urban planners at Jeanne Gang’s Chicago-based firm, suggests that rebuilding commercial corridors and underfunded neighborhoods begins not with huge developments or radical new infrastructure, but by repurposing and reimagining what’s already there. The blueprint, outlined in a nearly 100-page booklet, calls for a strategic updating of the public realm, using libraries, police stations, and parks for form the backbone of an engaged, active and technically savvy neighborhood. ...

The project and plan came about as part of the Reimagining the Civic Commons project, a $40 million effort to help rebuild urban centers. Funded by $20 million worth of grants from the JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation, along with $20 million in matching funds from local sources, the project will focus on redesigning and revitalizing Akron, Chicago, Detroit, and Memphis. ...

But the plan goes far beyond a single building. Studio Gang’s suggestions for Philadelphia go on to suggest renovating other nearby public buildings with the same ideas in mind. The Frances Meyer Recreation Center could be transformed into a Wellness Center. Police stations could be outfitted with green roofs and public porches to encourage community engagement. Schools could turn green spaces into community gardens. By turning these separate spaces into nodes of activity, they become centers in a network of public programming.”

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