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Arch 66995: Community Design [Build] Charrette

The Bridge Project

Reclaiming the Detroit-Superior Bridge for Public Use

Fall Semester 2009

We must put all the resources of the world into a fluid, fluctuating, mobile state so that nothing
exists that we have to try to get rid of. –Buckminster Fuller

Terry Schwarz – (216) 357-3426 –

David Jurca – (216) 357-3438 –


The community design [build] charrette will take place during the first few weeks
of the fall 2009 semester. In this course, you will be asked to consider the role of
infrastructure in a depopulating city. Cleveland has far more roads, sewers, and
power lines than are needed to meet the demands of our current population. Case
in point, the Detroit Superior Bridge (aka the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge or the
High Level Bridge). This massive two-level bridge across the Cuyahoga River was
the biggest structure of its kind 100 years ago. Originally, the top level was used for
cars and pedestrians, while the bottom level was for streetcars. The streetcar line was
closed in 1954 and the lower level has not been used since.
What remains is a vast, cathedral-like space suspended over the river with views of
the industrial valley, downtown, and the Flats. On September 25-26, 2009, we’re
going to re-open the lower level to the public. Your role is to develop a program and
a range of temporary uses for the bridge that will enable this vestigial space to func-
tion as a community resource. The charrette is a design/build exercise. You will have
two weeks to develop schematic designs. Then we will select the most compelling
ideas and construct them rapidly, full-scale at the bridge.
The two-day bridge event will include installations and performances by local artists.
Event partners include the Ingenuity Festival , SPACES gallery, the Cuyahoga RAP,
Cleveland Public Art, and the Flats-Oxbow Association. You will collaborate with
artists and other community stakeholders as you develop your design concepts. Dur-
ing the event, you will have an opportunity to observe the ways that people inhabit
your design interventions. You will interact directly with the public as a way to
evaluate whether your work is successful.

Jet Lowe, Historic American Engineering Record,

1978; Arches of the Detroit-Superior Bridge, c. 1940
Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Postcard of High Level (Detroit-Superior) Bridge
Cleveland State University Library Special Collections


Multi-disciplinary design: The charrette will improve your design skills and help you learn
how to apply what you know to real and sometimes vaguely-defined problems. The emphasis
is on collaborating with people from other disciplines and developing an appreciation for
cross-disciplinary contributions in design.
Community process: The charrette will test your ability to reconcile the competing (and often
conflicting) preferences and priorities of community stakeholders.
Service-learning: The charrette will enable you to consider the ways that your design decisions
impact the people who inhabit the places you create. You will gain a better understanding of
your role as a designer in a community context.


The charrette is a brief and intense design exercise. You will need to consider time
constraints in determining the nature of your design interventions and your methods for
implementation. We have a (modest) construction budget and support staff to assist with the
implementation phase of the exercise.
Week 1 (Aug 31-Sept 4)
Introduction to the project; tour of the bridge; development of design program
Week 2 (Sept 8 -Sept 11)
Development of design concepts
Week 3 (Sept 14-18)
Design concepts due; selection of projects for construction; construction logistics
Week 4 (Sept 21-26)
Construction; event – Sept. 25 & 26
Lower deck of the Detroit Superior Bridge shortly
after construction, 1916. Cleveland State University
Library Special Collections


The charrette will occur simultaneously with the fall design studio. We will coordinate assign-
ments and deadlines between the two courses to eliminate the potential for conflicts.
The staff of the CUDC will be your partners for this project. In the months leading up to
the charrette, CUDC staff will survey existing conditions, conduct stakeholder interviews,
coordinate with event partners, and prepare a range of preliminary programmatic alternatives
for the bridge. The staff will work with you throughout the design and construction process.

Grading and expectations

Attendance is mandatory at the charrette event on Sept. 25-26, 2009. Grading will be based
on participation, process, and presentation. Resourcefulness will be more important than
carpentry skills, although both are useful in this exercise.


Peter Arlt, “Urban Planning and Interim Use;” Klaus Ronneberger, “From Regulation to
Moderation;” Robert Temel, “The Temporary in the City;” Florian Hayden, “A Material that
Never Comes to Rest: Concepts and Potentials of Temporary Spaces;” Mirko Pogoreutz,
“Urban Intelligence;” and Elke Krasny, “Spaces for Action and for Laughing Too: On the
Public Effect of Participation in Urban Spaces;” in Temporary Urban Spaces. Florian Hadyn,
Robert Temel, eds. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006. pp. 39-92.
Michael Hirsch, “The Space of Community: Between Culture and Politics,” in Did Someone
say Participate? An Atlas of Spatial Practice. Markus Miessen and Shumon Basar, eds. Cam-
bridge: The MIT Press, 2006. pp.290-304.
Terry Schwarz and Steve Rugare, eds. Pop up city. Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative,
Kent State University 2009.