Post by hanrahan Meyers architects (hMa) principal, Victoria Meyers:
I often travel from New York City to Baltimore on Amtrak. Whenever I take that train ride, I look out at an urban landscape that I refer to as the: ‘Amtrak Urban Corridor’. It starts at Trenton, New Jersey, and continues right through Baltimore, Maryland: an unbroken corridor of urban decay and poverty.
abandoned factories and warehouses: the Amtrak Corridor. Post: Victoria Meyers architect
This landscape is an urban map that describes many of the things that have gone wrong in American society. What is really concerning, first and foremost, are the empty and abandoned warehouses and factories. In between the abandoned and ruined industrial buildings, are blocks and blocks of neighborhoods that are half abandoned, where the residents are obiviously impoverished, and could use the jobs that have left from those factories. This country could reuse and recycle these warehouses to build up a new industrial base for the 21st Century. What happened to the American spirit? How could we have allowed this to happen? If one of us is impoverished and in need, all of us feels that condition. We are all without.
What is needed here is a plan. An Urban Corridor Master Plan! A Master Plan that links new 21st Century start-up businesses with abandoned places. A Plan that links unemployed people with jobs.
People in these neighborhoods need the jobs that these factories could create if some smart or philanthropic investor would provide the start up money, coupled with a smart entrepreneur with new technologies to be assembled. America needs to rebuild. Our Cities represent who we are and define us. Abandonment is not a pretty legacy.
abandoned brick row houses: Baltimore, MD.
President Obama has led the thinking on a lot of the innovations in urban renewal, with his push for a new ‘Green Economy’, with a new, post-industrial jobs base building the components we need to develop Solar, Geo-Thermal, Wind-Power, and Bio-Fuel technologies. In the 21st Century, the country that solves the current energy crisis is the country that will emerge as a super-power. The consequences of not changing the United States' energy-based economy to sources other than oil is evident right now in the Gulf of Mexico.
There was a very interesting article in the June 23, 2010 New York Times, titled: ‘Levi’s Features a Town Trying to Recover’ - that deals with many of these issues. Levi’s has ‘adopted’ the town of Braddock, Pennsylvania: a town trying to pick itself back up after losing its industrial base. Levi’s is doing a great thing by doing this, and deserves credit for their foresight. Levis is making a difference not just in the lives of the people in this small American town, but also in the overall recovery and re-invigoration of the American psyche and Vision. The campaign slogan: 'Ready to Work' - is a tagline for America in the current downturn. The campaign also states: 'we are all workers'.
Braddock, Pa.: Levi's 'Go Forth' campaign and urban renewal
We all could use the Vision that Levi’s is bringing to their ‘Go Forth’ campaign. I encourage anyone reading this blog post to visit the Levi’s campaign website, and watch some of the film clips there: http://www.levistrauss.com/news/press-releases/levis-proclaims-we-are-all-workers-launch-latest-go-forth-marketing-campaign. The campaign shows many images similar to the ones I've been describing along the Amtrak corridor, and includes some very smart film clips by very talented filmmakers, including one short that won an award at Sundance Film Festival this year. I have just one complaint. If Levi's is really sincere about this campaign - they'll also renovate one of the abandoned factories in Braddock, and install a new Levi's factory. (Levi's - I'm throwing down my glove).
hanrahan Meyers architects (hMa) is an internationally known design firm with experience designing sustainable master plans and landscapes for urban centers (hMa are the Master Plan Architects for Battery Park City's North Neighborhood, winner of the 2010 Heritage Award from the Urban Land Institute); small town centers (hMa designed a 550-acre zero-carbon footprint site plan and master plan in Claverack, New York), as well as private, residential landscape design (Holley House landscape layout and design).
hanrahan Meyers architects (hMa) is a full service Master Planning and Design firm. We bring expertise and experience to landscape and master plan projects. hMa has successfully laid out site topography, overviewed the installation of site services, including electrical, water, sewage, and gas. hMa has advanced expertise in integrating high-energy use, traditional site planning with the latest sustainable ideas and services, to create an integrated approach to achieving LEED certified design goals, and Zero-Carbon Footprint site designs.
For more information about hanrahan Meyers architects, and their innovative and green ideas for cutting edge 21st century Master Plans and Landscapes, visit hMa’s website: www.hanrahanMeyers.com; go to ‘Projects’: ‘Master Plans and Landscapes’.