Update #4: Five Inspiring Ideas From Other Downtowns: They Did That?
Velocity invites us to dream big and think boldly about Downtown’s future. As we gear up for an early-December launch of Velocity, we are pleased to continue these bi-monthly updates. Velocity has worked to gather inspiration from brilliant minds here at home and best practices from cities far away. For this Update, we’re sharing a few inspiring ideas happening in other downtowns and we have partnered with our friends at We Are City to help us do so. We Are City sends bi-weekly emails with similar content, so if you like this, consider signing up for their [BRIEFING].
Right up our alley. Indianapolis has 476 miles of alleys providing plenty of mileage to do something interesting with them. Alleys are definitely an underrated asset. Perhaps filling them with art, as San Francisco is doing, or greening them up, like Chicago’s initiative? Covering them? Maybe it’s taking personal responsibility for our own backsides. Maybe it’s lighting them correctly. Or getting the right restaurant. Or maybe it’s just throwing more parties.
Play as design. A group in Macarao called the League of the Urban Game invited children in the city to design a space for fusilao, a traditional Venezuelan game. polis has details and pictures. Fusilao isn’t what we play here in Indy but we could take a cue from Detroit’s new basketball court Cadillac Square (with a little art for good measure). Play can be a design strategy, whether it takes the form of playgrounds, swing sets, outdoor ping-pong tables, or urban hacking.
Pop-up bridge! There are plenty of ways to cross the waterways in Paris – boat, car, even walk. But what about jumping? Architecture firm Atelier Zündel Cristea suggested an inflatable pop-up trampoline bridge (as opposed to a trampoline sidewalk) to bounce across the Seine. Safe? Not so much. Fun? Oh yeah. For some reason this reminds us of wakeboarding the canal and aqua-cinema.
Matchmaking. Pop-up retail is great for filling space. It’s experimental, interesting, and sometimes converts into a thriving business. But until that time, it doesn’t pay landlords well. Downtown Indy could sure use more street-level retail (hello Monument Circle) so what to do? Tech to the rescue. There are a flurry of Airbnb-ish solutions for match-making ideas with retail spaces, like miLES, active in the Lower East Side of New York City, or Storefront (Inc has the story on them), or SQFT, or We Are Popup (hmmm) in London. Do we have enough ideas to fill the empty storefronts in downtown Indy?
AMUSEd. Science museums: places where dioramas come alive and hipsters overtake natural history museums. The National Science Foundation recently awarded nearly $3 million to Butler University’s Center for Urban Ecology to start a different kind of science museum, one without walls (and troublesome sentient dioramas). This “unmuseum” will use six sites along the waterways as laboratories and places to marry science with culture. How might this inaugural exhibit be leveraged to extend into downtown for a creation of a building-less Museum of Urban Science and Ecology, or cleverly acronymed, MUSE?
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