Among the projects sponsored during the Summer 2014 Charrette, two design teams turned their attention to transforming an historic building in Kansas City's urban core into a new maker space for the community.
Kansas City, Missouri, is the home of Make It Right's latest community revitalization project. Though the neighborhood of Manheim Park hasn't been affected by a natural disaster, it's been afflicted with decades worth of decline. Bancroft Elementary, a formerly abandoned school dating from 1904, is the projects locus. Make It Right and local firm BNIM transformed the vacant building into low-income housing for families, veterans, senior citizens, and youths transitioning out of foster care. Architect Tim Duggan, director of Make It Right's Innovations department, spearheaded the effort. We chatted with him about the project, "urban acupuncture," and how this redevelopment plan serves as a model for other cities. "We see this as a model both locally and nationally to identify a catalytic project and revitalize it," Duggan says. "So often conventional development says, it won't pencil out or it won't work unless there are inferior quality materials, or it'll pencil out with less community space or less attention to quality. We didn't want to do that." READ MORE >>
The television footage of the devastation of Joplin, Missouri — struck by an EF5 multiple-vortex tornado in May 2011 — reminded him of old black and white photos of World War I battlefields scarred deep with trenches. Not just the devastation to the people, but the way the high winds had actually stripped away much of the bark from the trees, laying them bare.
“Those trees were first an indicator of the injury to the ecosystem…and later would become a springboard image as to how the community would respond,” said Keith Tidball, PhD, an Extension Associate and Associate Director of the Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab in upstate New York.
In time that imagery would also help springboard Tidball to the Landscapes of Resilience project in Joplin and Queens, N.Y., which suffered greatly from Hurricane Sandy. READ MORE >>
We have previously described four key characteristics of resilient structures in natural systems: diversity; web-network structure; distribution across a range of scales; and the capacity to self-adapt and “self-organize.” We showed how these features allow a structure to adapt to shocks and changes that might otherwise prove catastrophic.
We also argued that a more resilient future for humankind demands new technologies incorporating precisely these characteristics. As a result, environmental design, especially, is set to change dramatically.
But such desirable characteristics do not exist as abstract entities. Rather, they are embodied in the physical geometries of our world — the relationship between elements in space. As we will discuss here, these geometries typically arise from the processes that produce resilience, but in turn they go on to create — or to destroy — the capacity for resilience in their own right. So if we want a more resilient future, we first need to understand these geometries, and the technological and economic processes that produce them. READ MORE >>
The biggest issues in society, from obesity to climate change, are due to behavioural and lifestyle factors people embrace on a daily basis.
Most attempts to change behaviour rely on the outdated assumption that people are governed by a rational self-interest. The result is a range of programmes with a firm rationale but minimal impact.
We believe the best way to solve these issues is to not only research how and why people actually make decisions, but use the design of products, services and places to help us all make better decisions. READ MORE >>
Nina Simon, executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, designs and researches participatory museum experiences. As author of The Participatory Museum, she continues to explore how Web 2.0 philosophies can be applied in museum design through her blog, Museum 2.0. [Thanks to Dan Hellmuth of Hellmuth+Bicknese for pointing me to Nina and her amazing work!]
In "Dreaming of Perpetual Beta: Making Museums More Incremental", she writes:
Venue as content platform instead of content provider: the museum becomes a stage on which professionals and amateurs can curate, interpret, and remix artifacts and information.
Architecture of participation with network effects: each person who participates contributes something meaningful and lasting. Visitors' interactions allow them both to personalize their museum experiences and to engage with other visitors through their shared interests. The museum gets better the more people use it.
Perpetual beta: the museum is always in flux, incrementally releasing new versions, refining procedures, and responding to audience desires.
Flexible, modular support for distributed products: inviting people to plug-in their own creations, whether those be DIY audio tours, pop up events, or co-created exhibitions.
From 2006-2011, I focused almost entirely on #1 and #2, playing with ways to invite visitors to actively participate with professionals to co-create powerful experiences around museum objects.
But in the past year and a half as a museum director, I find myself increasingly interested in #3 and #4. In a lot of ways, our successful turnaround at the MAH has been driven by both embracing incremental change and opening up clear opportunities for community organizations and individuals to "plug" their cultural brilliance into our space. We're using #3 and #4 to achieve #1 and #2 in the Museum 2.0 playbook. READ MORE >>
Amazing transformation of a 100-year-old public school in Kansas City's historic Manheim Park Neighborhood into a new deep green development for affordable housing. Led by BNIM Architects, this ambitious project includes support from a progressive group of stakeholders, including the Make It Right Foundation.
Seek out the place where there is a great need. Often in this place we find an absence of design, yet here exists the greatest opportunity.
This provocation has been with me for a number of seasons, and has resurfaced in a whole new light this weekend after engaging with a community focused on Public Interest Design.
It was at the Structures for Inclusion 12 Conference in Austin, TX hosted by Bryan Bell and his team at Design Corps, where projects from around the globe best exemplifying the mission of the SEED Network (Social Economic Environmental Design) were being honored. The theme of the conference, “Design is Relational”, allowed the attendees to explore impact is on the relationships, the empowerment, and the activities created by Public Interest Design, in addition to the bricks and mortar aspect of design and construction.
The projects were diverse. They ranged from a hospital in Rwanda, to a youth farm in New Orleans, to a Native American Pueblo in New Mexico, to our very own Bancroft School in Kansas City. But the theme of each project was consistent: there was a need that someone saw as an opportunity to serve the needs of the public. READ MORE >>
Rendering of proposed designs for a new Joplin, Missouri High School - announced last Tuesday at the Board of Education meeting - nine months after a devastating EF5 tornado destroyed the old high school and much of the city.
IMAGE: Courtesy BNIM Architects & Make It Right Foundation
A major redevelopment in Kansas City is now underway, with the support of the Make It Right Foundation – founded by actor Brad Pitt to build affordable housing in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina – donating $2.3 million toward construction of green, affordable housing units on the grounds of the old Bancroft School within KC’s Green Impact Zone. Upon its completion, the $14 million Bancroft redevelopment will include 50 affordable housing units: 29 in the remodeled school building and 21 in new town homes to be constructed on school grounds, all meeting LEED Platinum standards.
After discussions for more than a year, this project now moves forward after the announcement last Monday by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II and Kansas City Mayor Sly James – which follows a decision by the Missouri Housing Development Corporation to approve a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit application that will allow redevelopment of the vacant Bancroft School. The project will also receive $1.4 million in federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits; $3 million in federal and state historic preservation tax credits; and $676,000 in Affordable Housing Assistance Program tax credits.
BNIM Architects is leading the design, with Dalmark Development Group as the developer. Other key players include the Historic Manheim Park Neighborhood Association, Kansas City’s Neighborhood Housing Services, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), and the Green Impact Zone.
IMAGE: Courtesy BNIM Architects & Make It Right Foundation
For more on this amazing new project, see Kevin Collison’s piece in the Kansas City Star, “Brad Pitt’s foundation to help redevelop Bancroft School”:
A bond forged in storm-ravaged New Orleans between actor Brad Pitt and a local architecture firm is bearing fruit in Kansas City — and may show the path forward to reusing dozens of empty schools.
The long-closed Bancroft School at 4300 Tracy Ave. will be renovated into affordable apartments and a community center with the aid of the Make It Right Foundation founded by Pitt, a Hollywood superstar with deep Missouri roots, and the creative talents of BNIM Architects, his helper in New Orleans.
The $14 million project calls for the existing 103-year-old brick school building to be converted into 29 affordable apartments with a 6,250-square-foot community center on the main floor. A new building with 21 apartments will also developed. READ MORE