LMK 02 - 04 - 2010

Ashland, Ohio, is a small city located off of I-71 with over an hour drive to either Cleveland or Columbus. With being far enough removed from either of these metropolitan centers, Ashland is considered a 'micropolitan,' a word used by the US Census Bureau to describe city centers who are small but still act mostly independently from metropolitan areas. Even more, this helps to explain how Ashland has retained her small-town charm throughout the years. In the final years of the 19th century, Ashland started picking up as a thriving city center. The industrial revolution paved the way for successful businesses like the Faultless Rubber Co. (a manufaturer of medical grade rubber products), Myers Pump (a water pump manufacturer), and Hess Brothers & CO (a manufacturer famous for their udder cream). Companies like the aforementioned brought a lot of activity and money to downtown Ashland. However, by the late-20th Century many of these companies were either bought out or moved. With this shift from the Industrial Age to the Technological Age, Ashland's economy has really suffered. Presently the old Hess & Co. building stands vacant; the Faultless Rubber Co. building has been raised and the property fenced off; and the old Myers Pump factory buildings have been donated to a local ministries organization. Additionally most of Ashland's downtown has begun to empty. This flight has increased since the construction of a Wal-Mart Superstore at the interstate exit just outside of the city proper. Many businesses have felt the need to relocate from the town center to this outlying development. This leads to my intentions for this project: I am working on a proposal for a new master plan for the historically rich downtown area. Some goals include finding new ways to draw people back to downtown, increasing commercial activity in this area, and identifying reuse options for many downtrodden and abandoned buildings and spaces. Since Florence a few ideas pertaining history have been formulating in my mind. The first was inspired by the guide in Florence who mentioned the simple fact that not every historical structure can be saved that sometimes one thing has to go in order to allow the city to survive. The next idea has to do with layers of history, and this was formulated in Istanbul when Nam, our guide, showed us where the old palace of Constantinople had roofs from previous cultures at ground level of the courtyard. Additionally, we visited the Egyptian obelisk, which rests on land that was once the location of a hippodrome during Roman rule. The diagram below shows a quick illustration of Nam's explanation of the layers of ruins below the grade of this square. Next and last for now, is how to apply these concepts to my project? I see a prioritization needing to take place and a change in the mindset of where new development can happen within Ashland. A discussion must occur that can help businesses understand the importance of continuing the life of the downtown. This 'new' approach could really help save the struggling city. (The larger diagram is briefly identifying layers of spaces and buildings of downtown Ashland. Also shown are major roads that surround and weave through the site. Orange is showing un-used spaces. Blue are active buildings/spaces. Green is showing spaces that are not dense and/or unclear in their use amount. Yellow is showing residences. Forgive me the side-ways nature of this. The layout is not flexible.)

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