Downtown Edmonton cultural facilities development as an example of "Transformational Projects Action Planning"
If I had to pick say five major lessons from my involvement over the past 18 years or so in urban revitalization in a major city, one would be that we need to harness the value and power of "networks" to leverage the opportunity for improvement.
My writings on leveraging new transit infrastructure as a way to drive complementary changes across the extant transit "network" ("Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success: Part 2 | proposed parallel improvements across the transit network" and "Using the Silver Line as the priming event, what would a transit network improvement program look like for Northern Virginia?") or a city/conurbation like Silver Spring ("Creating a Silver Spring Sustainability Mobility District") are examples.
As I wrote in "(Big Hairy) Projects Action Plan(s) as an element of Comprehensive/Master Plans," there were many influences on my thinking in terms of developing the TPAP concept as an element of master planning at the city-wide and sub-city scales, including learnings from Bilbao ("Why can't the "Bilbao Effect" be reproduced? | Bilbao as an example of Transformational Projects Action Planning) and other European cities like Dublin, Hamburg, Helsinki, Liverpool, and Marseille, which I wrote about for a writing project commissioned by the EU National Institutes of Culture Washington Chapter project in Baltimore (entries archived at "Europe in Baltimore").
But it wasn't just foreign examples. Portland's steady progress in developing a pro-center city agenda is one ("A summary of my impressions of Portland, Oregon and planning," 2005). Cultural facility development programs by the Playhouse Square CDC in Cleveland ("Real estate value capture and the arts," 2010) and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust ("Pittsburgh Cultural Trust maintains diverse real estate portfolio to support arts," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; "How the Arts Drove Pittsburgh's Revitalization," The Atlantic) as well as the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative also in Pittsburgh.
Another leader is Oklahoma City and the program they created for infrastructure and project development called "Metropolitan Area Projects" or MAP. Note that while called "Metropolitan" the projects are funded specifically by residents in Oklahoma City and the program doesn't extend beyond the city.
And the Community Works program in Hennepin County, Minnesota ("A County and Its Cities: the Impact of Hennepin Community Works," Journal of Urban Affairs, 30:3, 2008) complemented by the since ended Neighborhood Revitalization Program in Minneapolis.
Multi-jurisdictional districts like the Detroit area's Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Parks Authority, the Regional Asset District in (Pittsburgh) Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and (Greater) Denver's Scientific and Cultural Facilities District are other examples.
A major influence was the work of Toronto planner Joe Berridge, who outlined a vision of a variety of transformational projects for Toronto in the late 1990s. While not an official document, most of what he recommended came to fruition ("Toronto needs to take one last step to reach civic greatness" and "Toronto needs a new wave of world-scale projects," Toronto Star). Just think how much more could have been accomplished had the official planning processes been more purposive. Perhaps Toronto wouldn't be facing a transit crisis because of the failure to take on the "Downtown Relief Line" ("Subway crowding at crisis level," TS).
An article, "Six projects that are reshaping Downtown Edmonton," in the Toronto Globe & Mail, is another example of what I mean by embarking on a set of transformational projects as a way to further urban revitalization and success.
The point is to stich these up into a program and seize every opportunity to wring out and realize all the potential and possibilities, to achieve even more than can be achieved by any one project.
The six (seven) projects in Edmonton are:
- a new building for the Royal Alberta Museum which is twice the size of the old building, near to the Alberta Art Gallery and with a direct underground connection to the Edmonton Light Rail system
- a renovated and expanded central library, the Stanley A. Milner Library
- Allard Hall, MacEwan University -- the arts building is part of the program that has shifted the university's campus from the West End to Downtown Edmonton by adaptively reusing an old railyard; the building has two theatres and an art gallery on the ground floor that will be facilities used by the curriculum but also open to the public, better engaging the university with the city outside its doors
- Arts Habitat Edmonton: ArtsCommon and Artists Quarters -- affordable housing and live work units for artists
- Edmonton Opera Centre, besides the auditorium, the facility includes set construction and costume facilities open to other performing arts groups
- Winspear Music Centre, home to the city's symphony orchestra, is developing an additional facility which will replace a parking lot with a 600-seat theatre and a community arts facility.
-- "Arts, culture districts and revitalization," 2009
-- "The Howard and Lincoln Theatres: run them like the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust/Playhouse Square Cleveland model," 2012
-- "BTMFBA: the best way to ward off artist or retail displacement is to buy the building," 2016
-- When BTMFBA isn't enough: keeping civic assets public through cy pres review," 2016
-- "BTMFBA revisited: nonprofits and facilities planning and acquisition," 2016
-- "Should community culture master plans include elements on higher education arts programs?," 2016
facilities planning and development should be a fundamental element within community cultural plans.
Separately, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, a model example of managing multiple arts facilities across a district to foster cultural endeavors and revitalization, is looking to open a cinema in Downtown Pittsburgh ("Pittsburgh Cultural Trust considers movie theater on Sixth Street," Pittsburgh Business Times) to broaden the cultural offer there.
Labels: capital improvements planning, civic assets, comprehensive planning/Master Planning, cultural planning, government oversight, public finance and spending, public realm framework, urban design/placemaking