Thursday, June 20, 2013


Today we started the class with an Urban Planning 101 presentation by Minneapolis City Planner Joe Bernard. Joe started the conversation by asking the students "Why did people start living together?" Collectively the group came up with food, protection, and social.

Joe also showed us an image of the ancient Greek city of Piraeus, a port city within the urban area of Athens.  The city was laid out by Hippodamus of Miletus, an architect, urban planner, physician, mathematician, meteorologist and philosopher and is considered to be the “father” of urban planning.‬ Piraeus was one of the first implementations of a grid in a city. 

One of the areas that Joe focused was the 70's development of the West Bank of Minneapolis.  Below is a slide that shows the larger plan for the area. Only a portion of it was built - Ralph Rapson's Riverside Plaza.  See Urban Renewal and Housing and Urban Development Act of 1970 (also know as New Town-In Town).
Riverside Plaza is composed of six buildings and has 1,303 residential units, making it the main feature of the city's Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Each building has a different height, intended to reflect the diversity of its population. Rapson was inspired by the time he spent in European cities, where people of different ages and levels of wealth coexisted in close quarters. The area was developed with support from the U.S. federal government's New Town-In Town program, and was originally planned to be part of a utopian design that would have seen 12,500 units spread across four neighborhoods housing a total of 30,000 people. Cedar Square West was the first project in the country to receive Title VII funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD), and it is the larger of only two New Towns-In Town that ultimately qualified for that program

After Joe's presentation, we talked about a design approach that I use as a roadmap for my projects. 

This part of the process involves identifying the problems, challenges, expectations and assets that you possess

Seek out information related to the topic

Come up with a variety of possible solutions and try them out

Time to take some of the successes in the experiment phase and put them to use in making something

Your project isn't finished till you share it with someone.

After talking through the process, we did a short exercise where the students brainstormed possible ideas for the projects.  They were asked to identify an audience that they felt was underserved and come up with ways to start a conversation with the community about historic properties.

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