In January Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer implored local designers and developers to propose ideas for 250 of the city’s several thousand vacant lots. Last week they announced four winners, which included gardens of dye plants for local textile production; a Habitat for Humanity–style homeownership program; environmental remediation via lavender fields; and meditation gardens made of recycled materials.
It’s beginning to sound a bit like a broken record, but for the umpteenth time, the conclusion has been drawn that the riverfront interstate, I-64, in Louisville, Kentucky, is a problem. That along with a lot of other advice—some insightful, some, like, “duh!”—was included in a new $300,000 master plan for the city developed by the firms MKSK, Development Strategies, City Visions, and Urban 1. The more insightful bits include ways of reconnecting Portland and west side neighborhoods with the urban core. The obvious, but still necessary, include the 42 million (that figure is a bit of hyperbole) surface parking spaces. Have you ever flown into Louisville? The downtown looks like a mall parking lot. Mayor Greg Fischer, don’t let this advice fall on deaf ears… again.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer started 2014 off with a call to citizens: Help the city come up with creative ideas to redevelop vacant land. Local and far-flung designers are invited to re-imagine the land in a new competition. The winners of the Lots of Possibility competition will be awarded a total of $38,000 to put their vision into action.
Louisville, Kentucky has asked its residents for help in determining the future vision for the city, and citizens sent in thousands of ideas on how to improve Possibility City. Among the crowd-sourced suggestions were many promoting alternative transportation, whether improving bike infrastructure to building light rail to, well, even more alternative methods of getting around.
Local Russ Renbarger proposed what he calls RiverZips, a mile-long zip line across the Ohio River that would convey people between Kentucky and Indiana—more of a ride than an adventure, says Insider Louisville.
Maybe You Lost My Number: Eavesdrop wants to know why we weren’t invited to your Kentucky Derby party, De Leon and Primmer. You guys are practically the only cool architecture firm in the River City! We were down in Louisville the weekend of the Derby and wandered (hungover, naturally) past your office on Sunday morning.
Over the past week, news of one allegedly-very-old tree cut down on the University of Louisville’s campus where a wHY Architecture-designed addition to the Speed Art Museum is being built has tree experts in Louisville counting rings on a stump. Students creating a map of all 2,500 trees on the University’s campus as part of Dr. Tommy Parker’s Urban Wildlife Research Lab had estimated the tree was over 300 years old, generating an impassioned oped in the student newspaper. The Speed and local news sources looked further into the mysterious tree, using the stump and historical photos of the museum (above) to determined that the tree was really only 60 years old. Steven Bowling, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Speed Art Museum, also wrote in with this statement about the tree’s removal:
As part of the Speed Art Museum’s long planned expansion, the Speed and its architect, wHY Architecture, carefully analyzed the site and its space constraints. The goals were threefold: to protect the Museum’s 1927 historic building to accommodate the Speed’s growing audience, to link the expanded green spaces of the Museum with the University of Louisville Campus and to seamlessly integrate art and nature on the 6-acre site. During the planning phase, the Speed, together with the architects, reviewed several possibilities in consultation with landscape architects and an arborist to expand the Museum’s footprint with minimal interruption to the historic building, the surrounding area, and trees within the Museum’s footprint. In the final plan, the tree needed to be removed. Removal of the tree, which the arborist determined was 60 years old, allows the site to be re-graded and expands accessibility for all visitors to the Museum and its grounds. While both the Museum and the architects regret the removal of that tree, the new Speed Art Museum which will re-open in 2016 will provide students and visitors with expanded green space that includes an art park and public piazza, as well as the planting of more than 40 new trees.
[Editor's Note: Following the publishing of this story, the Speed Art Museum and tree researchers studied the tree, determining that it was, in fact, not three centuries old, nor a Valley Oak. The tree in question is now believed to be a 60-year-old English Oak. Read the update here.]
The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, is currently closed to visitors until 2015 while a dramatic stacked-box addition is built to the north of the institution’s original 1927 neo-Classical building on the University of Louisville’s Olmsted-designed Belknap Campus. The $50 million expansion, designed by Culver City, CA-based wHY Architecture with Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects, who were later dropped from the project, will triple the museum’s gallery space and add to the already robust arts scene in Louisville.
This week, one alert writer at the student newspaper, The Louisville Cardinal, noticed something missing at the construction site: the University’s oldest tree. The approximately 309-year-old Valley Oak had been cut down when the site was cleared late last year. Only a stump now remains behind the construction fence. The author, Wesley Kerrick, noted the tree pre-dates not just the University, but the city, state, and country in which it resides, as it sprouted sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century. Kerrick expressed frustration over the fact that the tree couldn’t have been saved.
Dear readers, Eavesdrop had the opportunity to explore Louisville, KY—our hometown—and Cincinnati, OH (a.k.a. Porkopolis) over the weekend. It’s been six or seven years since our last trip to Cincy and we have a couple things to say about it. It’s kind of a real city, like dense and old, with just enough corporate headquarters looming over the skyline.
We finally got to see the HOK designed Great American Tower in real life and it’s just as bad in person as its renderings. You may remember that we thoroughly made fun of its fugly, Princess Di inspired, steel tiara—something about lipstick on a pig. Let’s update that to a more current comparison. That tiara is more Honey Boo Boo than Princess Di. Eavesdrop is not a fan of hats or tiaras on buildings—i.e. the Pappageorge Haymes-designed One Museum Park in Chicago with its sailor cap. The American Institute of Steel Construction disagrees, recently giving said tiara a design award.