On February 9, 2012, more than 20 people met on the campus of Point Park University to continue a conversation about civic design solutions related to gateways & corridors that began at January’s Social Innovation Exchange (SiX).
To explore this topic more, The Sprout Fund convened the Gateways & Corridors Working Group to workshop opportunities to enhance regional gateways and neighborhood corridors through actionable, grassroots projects that could be catalyzed for $10,000.
With backgrounds in urban design, architecture, community development, and transportation, the Gateways & Corridors Working Group developed the core elements, key partnerships, proposed goals, and desired outcomes of six opportunities for action around Gateways & Corridors:
- Creating a comprehensive Inventory of Gateways & Corridors to understand the scope and scale of the issue and prioritize a response.
- Publishing Design Guidelines for Gateways & Corridors to equip communities and organizations to take action independently.
- Developing a Crowd-Funding Mechanism to enable communities to raise funds for local Gateways & Corridors improvement projects.
- Holding a Design Competition for High Profile Gateways & Corridors for proposals to improve the visual landscape of major points of access.
- Hosting Events and Festivals at Gateways & Corridors to encourage public participation and engagement.
- Running an Awareness Campaign for Gateways & Corridors to educate the public about these important civic design challenges.
Next Steps: Tell Us What You Think
Sprout has compiled the work of the Gateways & Corridors Working Group into six Opportunity Statements that describe the essential ingredients each opportunity needs in order to be successful.
Now it’s time to add your voice to the conversation by reviewing each opportunity and recording your scores and comments below. Comments and scores will help Sprout determine which opportunity to issue as a Request for Proposals offering up to $10,000 to catalyze a new grassroots project to enhance gateways and corridors. Jump to the scorecard »
Inventory of Gateways & Corridors
Creating an inventory of gateways and corridors is an essential first step necessary to understand the scope and scale of the issue. A comprehensive inventory could help answer many questions, gather and synthesize data, and create an authoritative assessment of our region’s gateways and corridors. By incorporating a “crowd-sourced” approach to gathering data, the inventory could help determine the level of prominence of different gateways and corridors, understand perceived neighborhood boundaries, and prioritize response based on usage.
The most promising aspect of this opportunity is that it would be a relatively straightforward process. While it would require careful management and lots of leg work, an effective inventory could be created by a single team, rather than a consortium of partners. That said, establishing objective criteria to evaluate the data and prioritize different gateways and corridors could prove challenging.
Design Guidelines for Gateways & Corridors
Creating a set of shared design guidelines for gateways and corridors would establish a unified identify for Pittsburgh and its communities. Groups equipped with these guidelines would then be better enabled to take independent action while working within a strategic framework. Shared standards help to ensure that community efforts are complementary and can extend to include the use of public art, storm water management, bicycle and pedestrian transportation ways, and other streetscape considerations that apply to many communities.
The most promising aspect of this opportunity is that design guidelines can adjust to different scales while remaining consistent. Additionally, other cities and regions have previously established precedents that can act as models for Pittsburgh. Enforcement challenges, stemming from differing levels of awareness of and adherence to design guidelines, could limit the effectiveness of the effort.
Utilizing a crowd-funding mechanism, like Kickstarter, to fund gateway and corridor projects in Pittsburgh would create a tangible measure of community buy-in and public support for potential projects. With the addition of matching dollars, resources could go even farther. This type of funding vehicle encourages collaboration between grassroots stakeholders and leading organizations.
The most promising aspect of this opportunity is that crowd-funding software exists and freely available—there is no need to create the mechanism from scratch. Challenges associated with this opportunity include questions related to oversight, maintenance, and marketing.
Design Competition for High Profile Gateways & Corridors
Hosting a design competition for gateways and corridors places the focus squarely on civic design, instead of public art or signage. A design competition would address the many complex aspects of civic design in a comprehensive manner, rather than making piecemeal improvements. This opportunity could also be used to establish design standards to be followed in future projects. Ideally, the design competition would be mindful of complete streets that incorporate multimodal transportation. Involving a larger stakeholder group would add to the success of the effort.
The most promising aspect of this opportunity is that it can happen in a relatively short timeframe. Additionally, the publicity associated with a competition could broaden awareness of civic design. However, it would be challenging to identify and prioritize the gateways and/or corridors in competition.
Events and Festivals at Gateways & Corridors
Hosting a series of events and festivals at gateway locations or along corridors creates opportunitis for the public to physically gather and re-imagine community spaces. In addition to engaging people in creative placemaking, events can draw attention, change perception, and create a brand identity for a community. Additionally, a series of events along a corridor could create opportunities to build connections between neighborhoods who share common corridors.
The most promising aspect of this opportunity is that it would bring attention to civic design, attract people to the process, and recruit partners from within communities. As a positive celebration of physical community spaces, events and festivals can help change perceptions. Still, significant planning, coordination, partnership, and logistical challenges accompany any event or festival project.
Awareness Campaign for Gateways & Corridors
Creating awareness of gateways and corridors is important to do because they are crucial elements of our city’s infrastructure and play a large role in crafting the public perception of Pittsburgh. Greater public awareness of Pittsburgh’s gateways and corridors will catalyze civic engagement and galvanize community members, local artists, and others to improve neighborhood identity. Additionally, gateways and corridors can be used to establish brand identifies for neighborhoods within the context of the city.
This opportunity is promising because it could enhance public knowledge of the importance of gateways and corridors and use the arts to promote positive neighborhood identities. Key challenges to consider include coordinating communication and building administrative capacity, as well as securing long-term funding to sustain the campaign.
Also from SiX: Sprout Requests Proposals for Pittsburgh Steps Project!
The Sprout Fund offers catalytic support for a project that will highlight one of Pittsburgh’s most unique neighborhood assets and celebrate the city’s historic built environment!
Pittsburgh is home to miles upon miles of city steps that connect commuters to workplaces, hilltops to riverfronts, and neighbors to main street commercial districts. However, many of these critical linkages are in various states of disrepair and neglect, or are otherwise hidden and unknown to many.
Proposals requesting support of up to $10,000 are sought from interdisciplinary teams for activities such as: mapping and documenting the step system; restoration/preservation/maintenance; lighting the steps; informational or historical signage/photography; public art; health and wellness activities; events or challenges to get involved with the steps; fundraising or “adopt a step;” and, concerts and festivals.
Download the complete RFP package from The Sprout Fund website at www.sproutfund.org/apply/. Proposals are due no later than 5pm on Friday, March 9, 2012.