Collage: Black Swamp
Celebrating the Iconography on the Periphery of a Fading City:
Toledo Edison ACME Power Plant

Cities in the past were constructed around infrastructure that supported the import and export of products contributing to the way in which we consume and utilize space, which has proven unsustainable and outdated. With an abundance of heavy infrastructure and outdated spatial relationships, we can see opportunity to claim back the right to the city.

Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau released its list of cities with income below poverty level. Detroit was number one and Ohio, (the only state to have more than one city on the list) held three spots: Cleveland #2, Cincinnati #7, and Toledo #8. A crisis is occurring in the number of cities that are shrinking due to economic, social and political reconfigurations. When a city’s economic system collapses, the social fabric begins to decay, inevitably leading to a city deprived of income, opportunity, wealth, education and community.

Within the context of civic and economic decline, I investigated the former site of the proposed Marina District in Toledo, OH, with a particular focus on the no longer operating Toledo Edison ACME Power Plant and the brown field surrounding. I wanted to render visible the importance of adapting to a world that increasingly operates virtually, yet maintain a sense for and the importance of the local.

Through this investigation, I responded to questions regarding ownership while celebrating the true iconography of this fading city. Questions were raised regarding how we can reappropriate the unused infrastructure on the edge of the city, and improve the ecological conditions of these types of sites while attempting to claim back the citizen’s right to the city. I want to celebrate the history of Toledo’s significant economic past, allowing for and increasing the ability to make a necessary change, while enabling this site to continually adapt throughout periods of transition.

As the community takes steps to reclaim the landscape integrating themselves in the redevelopment of the site, the landscape transforms slowly overtime. Soon, the site becomes a desirable place for families to take their children. The Plant is once again used to house workshops for things like job re-training, and learning new skills. The water’s edge is reclaimed, turning the southern most part of the site in to a wetlands zone. Small architectural interventions are set in place beginning to support certain functions for instance, a wetlands and landscape preservation laboratory.

As the Plant is slowly re-integrated back in to the community and architectural interventions take place through out the landscape, parts of the original structure are preserved to celebrate the true iconography of this cities industrial past. The landscape is viable for public use and recreation. Playing with the regions infamous flat terrain, a topography of varying levels are integrated throughout the landscape, creating dynamic pathways and framing particular views to appeal to the visitors sensibilities as they navigate through the field. People move through the carved out pathways much like water flows through the system of ditches used to irrigate the nearby farmlands.
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