Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rome Redux

Sears Crosstown from the Auction Street Bridge, MemphisMy take from the film, Rome: Impact of an Idea: Sixtus V began the creation of modern Rome by joining special places -- piazzas -- with arteries he laid out to connect the piazzas. His plan created dynamic connection as people moved between the places, pulled visually by the piazza's monuments in the distance and spiritually/economically by the piazza's uses and meanings. His and his architect's (Domenico Fontana) monument of choice: the obelisk.

After the film, there was a great discussion on the film's thesis and its application to Memphis. I hope all of the Urban Land Institute films (the next is Edmund Bacon's film on Paris) will have discussions like this. In fact, I think ULI should hold regular discussion forums, movie or no.

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Anonymous fieldguidetomemphis said...

where's more information about ULI events in memphis? they're a great group...

2:35 PM  
Blogger fearlessvk said...

i'm a little bit confused about these films.... i can't seem to find any explicit information on upcoming films. was this film really part of a series, or just a one-off event? i wish i had known about it before it happened....

8:20 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

I've emailed the Urban Art Commission (co-hosts for the last film) about info/date for the next movie which will be on Paris and Hausmann.

I don't know if ULI is trying to keep it quiet, or they're another good Memphis org that needs a web upgrade.

10:49 PM  
Blogger fearlessvk said...

ooooh i'm really excited for a paris and haussmann film!! i'm totally fascinated by haussmann. i've even blogged about it! do keep us posted on the response you get...

10:32 AM  
Blogger jccvi said...

Do you have a piazza layout in your head for memphis?

3:17 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

I don't have any specific ideas of public places like those but it would be interesting to see how/where one could be created and sustained. Someone at the discussion made a very good point how our low density impedes the public places we desire.

The crooked angle of what is now the surface parking south of Sears Crosstown, facing south down Cleveland, sandwiched between businesses across the street and the tower behind, might be an interesting public place as long as there's enough movement in and out of neighboring buildings. People could be drawn north up a revived Cleveland by the vision of the tower, also revived, in the distance.

Any ideas?

You should go to the next film, which I'm told will be in January.

btw, what happened to will barrett? Did Walker Percy's estate come after ye?

11:00 PM  
Blogger jccvi said...

My wife started a family blog for her friends and I was confusing people. Mr. Barrett has retired to his room at the Central Park YMCA.

I like the idea of a public space managed by a private entity, ala whatever might be done in front of Sears Crosstown, or possibly at Overton Square as discussed on fearlessvk's blog. It allows for more hands on management in my opinion. I'm imagining something like the plaza in front of autozone park, only minus admission.

I'm really partial to the idea of linked public spaces, ala the piazzas in Rome. I've got some ideas in my head on the subject, but haven't really though them through. I agree that the issue of low density means that, however conceptually the idea might resemble Rome, the reality will look very different.

Building on Memphis's strengths, the links could very likely be green ones. The public response interest shown at the Greening Greater Memphis Meeting has not ceased to amaze me since February. Looking around the room, I couldn't believe that all these upper middle class white people were getting behind the idea of linking pedestrian pathways in Germantown and High Point Terrace with Binghamton and North Memphis. Pretty revolutionary stuff for Memphis.

2:09 PM  
Blogger jccvi said...

I love the angle from which you took the above picture. Memphis looks best from about the fifth story of a building. The idea of obelisks as unifying structures reminds me of the proposal to include "campanelles" in the Intown Charette the Knight Program from Miami did a few years back. There is nothing pretty to me than the occasional high building or steeple poking out of the canopy.
Here is a good reverse image of the one you took from the Glenmary Condos website: javascript:popup('photos/views-01.html',440,360);

2:40 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

The autozone park plaza is a good place. It's pretty small too.

At this point, maybe any point, most public places that don't have a nearby, walking distance, residential fringe will be more academic than successful, imho. That's why I think a good, perhaps transformative, use of the black hole of Overton Square would be a residential infill, at least partly in the model (height, density, rental) of the Stratum.

I love playing with 3D visualizations and have started something for Overton Square. Maybe I'll post a draft soon.

by the way, I think there are "terraces" on the Sears Crosstown, near the Watkins side. That would be a great place to have a bar, where you could sit down and watch the world of Cleveland to the south and across the canopy to the east.

11:34 PM  
Blogger jccvi said...

The view from the terrace presently would be quite interesting at night. Let's hope that the pedestrian future of the Cleve is less professionally oriented.

I'm quite taken with the Independent Bank logo in East Memphis atop that tower. I would love something similarly beacon-like over Midtown. Somebody ought to come up with a neat and easily neonized Crosstown logo and send it to Andy Cates. A huge LCD screen for showing Tigers, Redbirds, and Grizzlies games would also be nice.

Legend has it that there is a bavarian-style executive lounge somewhere up in the tower. Maybe a complementary beer garden would go well on the terrace. There's nothing like beer at a picnic table.

What tools are you using for the visualizations?

1:03 PM  
Blogger jccvi said...

I envision Overton Square along the lines of an infill project done in Homewood, Alabama (just "over the mountain" from Birmingham) called Soho Square. I can't find one link to the project that I like over an others, but the layout of the area is remarkably similar to Overton Square, if on a larger scale. The project included a town hall, lofts, a banquet space, and some retail, including a boutique grocery store.

While there is no need for a city hall for Midtown (arguably) I think some sort of civic gathering space would do well there. Maybe something along the lines of the Hickory Hill Community Center. The architecture used there and at the Whitehaven branch library would be very appropriate for a space in Midtown.

Combine such a community center with retail and some mixed-income residential and you've got a great link between, the Edge, Edgewood, Tucker-Jefferson, Lenox, and Idlewild neighborhoods with residual benefits for Binghampton, Evergreen/VECA, Cooper-Young, and Central Gardens (I think I've made this point somewhere before). It would be especially good if the development included improvements to make Union more pedestrial friendly, so Idlewild Elementary kids could walk to and from Overton Square.

2:10 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

bavarian-style executive lounge? Awesome! The myth will live, true or not.

I use Blender 3D (free as in speech, free as in beer) but you could use SketchUp from Google. It's supposed to be very easy to use. I would probably use it 'cept I'm a Linux guy and they don't have a Linux version yet. Anyway, Blender is a complete 3D modeling, animation and compositing tool. Check it out.

Yes, Union is another major impediment to Overton Square's development and I think to Midtown in general. Slow it down and let people cross.

12:48 AM  

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