Sep '06 - Dec '06
Having now returned from working at the Smithsonian, I've been able to concentrate more on my thesis (which seems, schedule wise, to be second in importance to making sure our Solar Decathlon studio is moving along smoothly.)
As I mentioned previously, my thesis is entitled "Babylon Reconsidered: community development through rooftop urban agriculture". The goal, as I've stated in the abstract, is "a project that attempts to beautify and revitalize the impoverished urban neighborhood through the creation of a new urban realm, adapting rooftops into a network of public agricultural parks."
My specific site (or sites, I suppose) is yet somewhat nebulous, but, barring significant disagreement from my thesis committee, I think I've decided on a general area.
That area is historically known as The Northern Liberties, a section of the fabled Over-the-Rhine neighborhood centered on Findlay Market, the oldest continuously operated public market in Ohio. The Northern Liberties name comes from the district's reputation for licentious behavior (bootleggers, saloons, gambling houses, brothels etc.) in the wee hours of the 19th century before it was incorporated into Cincinnati proper. The canal that gave Over-the-Rhine it's name flowed directly to the west of this district, separating it from the West End, a neighborhood that was a vital center of Black culture, then the site of some of the nation's earliest public housing projects, and now a post-industrial mess of mechanic's shops, storage facilities and the main Sam Adams brewery . The canal served not only as a divider, but also as a connective commercial space. Now long gone, it was filled in some 80 years ago with the still-born subway and covered with Central Parkway, a significant, 6-lane artery that splits the two neighborhoods far more than any canal could.
So my thought is that this many-rooftop agricultural park could serve to stitch back together these two neighborhoods, feeding off of the rich cultural and architectural history, and the two existing farm-related uses of brewery and farmer's market.
Images from my visit to the area yesterday appear below. The first six are Over-the-Rhine, the 7th is Central Parkway, and the last few are the West End.