Wednesday, August 1, 2012
A former commercial corridor and thoroughfare from downtown to the eastern part of the city, Glass Street is currently home to a lot of empty buildings and parking lots. But that could change.
Groups of architects and creatives presented their ideas for the future of Glass Street at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center last week.
The presentation was part of the American Institute of Architects annual Tennessee conference. Each year the conference provides a legacy project that allows attendees to go into a community and provide suggestions for improving it through architecture and design.
“The process we went through was we had about 80 attendees, with half architects, a number of other designers, local stakeholders and residents that were divided up into teams,” said presentation moderator and local architect Blythe Bailey. “Each team went out on their own with two and a half hours and then came back with ideas for what to do.”
A group called the Glass House Collective recently moved into the area with the goal of revitalizing the neighborhood by making it commercially viable and aesthetically pleasing again. The group recently received a $300,000 ArtPlace America grant that may eventually help members implement some of the suggestions presented by those attending the conference.
“We plan on using this as a jumping off point to revise and eventually implement,” said Glass House Collective program director Katherine Currin. “The goal was that while we were thinking bigger, we’d have some small steps to start implementing.”
Those small steps ranged from adding crosswalks to the neighborhood, developing space for a farmers market, encouraging retail opportunities through a one-day festival, creating a greenway or waterway and adding lighting to the street.
“Right now it’s not safe to drive down Glass Street at night, and if you can’t drive your car there you can’t possibly walk,” said presenter Joe Martin.
His group along with others highlighted the importance of bringing a level of safety back to Glass Street that must be attained before things like parks and retail can become viable. But the importance of green spaces and retail were not overlooked throughout the presentations.
“There’s a good reason why all those buildings are vacant,” said presenter Werner Slabber. “There’s no money there. If you look at a community, retail belongs to the community. To have any chance of reusing existing spaces, you need to provide an opportunity for those people to pull themselves up by their own boot straps.”
Several other groups suggested helping the residents help themselves through the creation of a farmers market or a festival that brings people together and provides retail opportunities.
According to Currin, Glass House Collective will hold public sessions and continue brainstorming about how they will proceed with the Glass Street revitalization. For more information about Glass House Collective visit www.glasshousecollective.org.
More like this story
- Architects eye revival on Chattanooga's Glass Street
- Better Block reviving Chattanooga's Glass Street
- Plans to move Big Buff's 92 BBQ to Glass Street are a small victory for the Glass House Collective
- Urban Design group proposes Vine Street revival
- Glass Street's streetscape improvements seen as key step in Chattanooga area's revitalization