Transforming a Block: An International Tactical Urbanism Salon

Posted: November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

In addition to compiling a comprehensive data report, our studio has also spent the past several weeks pulling together the details for a unique tactical urbanism event.

This inaugural Columbus/Dresden biannual planning salon will be a fun and interactive way to re-imagine existing and underutilized urban space. The purpose is to bring students and planners together in a one-day takeover of the

The open space in front of Knowlton Hall will serve as the platform for a Better Block transformation at Ohio State

outdoor plaza between Knowlton Hall and Hitchcock Hall on the Ohio State campus, with the final set up serving as a visualization of the full potential of this particular space. Specific elements of the salon will also provide on-the-ground examples of tactics that could ultimately be part of our facilities planning studio recommendations for the College of Engineering.

Our inspiration for a tactical urbanism salon stems from Jason Roberts’ Better Block initiative. Since 2010, the Better Block project has been a tool for community and business leaders to demonstrate ways that unsafe and forgotten neighborhood blocks can be revitalized through a little effort and creativity.

Elements typically found in a transformed block include pop-up businesses, temporary bike lanes and cafés, live performances, art displays, movable seating, extra trees and plantings, food, vibrant color, kids’ activities, and of course, plenty of people to enjoy the new space.

When transforming any block, several broad topics must always be addressed: safety, shared access, and stay power (encouraging people to gather and linger). Within these general realms, the possibilities are endless for those who are willing and determined to transform a block where they see potential. And, although the space takeovers are temporary, the best part of the Better Block project is that these events can inspire real change by helping local leaders and politicians see where improvements can be made, identify where code is outdated, and find ways to reinvigorate the local economy.

Kansas City Better Block Project

Tactical urbanism is characterized by being bold, rapid, and interesting. Roberts’ how-to video on building a better block details some of his original projects, all of which were successful because they weren’t afraid to break a few rules, push the envelope of expectations, and do it all in just one day. This flash-mob style of planning skips the bureaucratic process altogether and jumps right to implementation –a planner’s dream come true for a day and an effective way to showcase real ideas.

Ohio State’s rendition of Transforming a Block will feature several workshops and a luncheon provided by RedHot food truck, with the rest of the afternoon dedicated to site transformation and enjoying the new urban space. The workshops will engage participants at a more detailed level and include pole design, a how-to for temporary bicycle lanes, chalk art, guerilla gardening, and yarn bombing.

The salon will take place from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM on November 13, and has been submitted for five hours of Certification Maintenance Credit. Jason Roberts himself will be kicking off the event as our guest speaker – and we are very excited to have him join us on campus. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to collaborate with fellow Central Ohio students and planners in learning unique tactical urbanism techniques that can be used to improve your own community. Visit the APA Ohio website for more information and instructions on how to register.


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