Last week Glass House Collective and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) presented the plans from the Urban Design Workshop at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center. The teams were made up of architects participating in the AIA convention, neighborhood residents, urban planners, politicians, and designers. Architects and designers were able to bring their professional experience to the table, while the residents and business leaders from the community were able to ground their teams’ ideas in day-to-day realities based on decades of living in the area.
Each of the teams took a unique approach to neighborhood revitalization and pitching the following ideas: Replicating the Better Block program, which helps owners of vacant buildings market their retail space by allowing artists, craftspeople, and others to use the space for events that can span in length from a weekend to a few months;”Glass Street Gospel”, a program organized around the increased foot traffic on Sundays; ways to turn a nearby creek into green water reclamation; and extending the “safe street” zone near the elementary school to the business district. Many of the teams’ plans tackled Glass Street’s biggest obstacles. Bus shelters were aimed at taking the edge off some of the problems with the accessibility and efficiency of public transit. Community gardens and farmers markets would give area residents a convenient place to buy groceries, easing the challenges of living in a food desert. Clearly marked crosswalks, textured pavement, bike lanes, trees, and new traffic signals could make pedestrian traffic safer and slow cars down. Parks and playgrounds were included in majority of the plans to bring residents together in family-friendly spaces.
The next step is to present the eight plans to East Chattanooga residents through neighborhood associations meetings and other meetings Glass House plans to host. Glass Street locals will discuss which plans they want to collectively put into action. Because the plans were designed to be cheap, quick, and simple to produce, they will be some of the first steps Glass House Collective takes to bringing new life to the neighborhood.