Recoveries and Reclamations

October 14, 2007

Recoveries and Reclamations is a book by Judith Rugg and Daniel Hinchcliffe addressing the topic of reclaiming post industrial spaces.
“This second volume of the series ‘Advances in Art & Urban Futures’ brings together contributions from artists, sociologists, architects and cultural theorists in addressing the recoveries and reclamations being made within urban and rural landscapes as a result of the fallout of redevelopment in the 21st century.”

I’m hoping within this book I can find some influential artists addressing these issues.


Personal History with Gates

October 14, 2007


Today when I was filming a worker from Alpine Demolition came walking towards me. I thought he was going to kick me out and I was dreading the interaction. Turns out, he just wanted to chat and I’m happy he did. He, his mother and grandmother all worked at the Gates Factory! Now he is on the demolition team. Needless to say, he has mixed feelings about the situation. I’ve been wanting to interview people with a personal history/relation with the factory, but I figured it would be merely impossible to find these people, especially under my time constraints. Instead, they found me.


Austin Allen is an independent filmmaker, scholar and architect. He explores issues associated with urban development and use of public spaces, particularly parks. His work addresses the need for well designed public space that accomodates all demographics.

Here are some quotes and reviews of his documentary “Claiming Open Spaces”:
“The city parks of Columbus, New Orleans, Detroit, Oakland and Montgomery, and the African-Americans who frequent them, are the subjects of this urban documentary. Public spaces, and the ways in which we use them, sometimes conflict with official city planning.”
-Media rights:

“The documentary is a critical exploration of the design of urban spaces, a personal journey, and a celebration of leisure, recreation, and resistance. “We’ve been taught to see without seeing,” notes Allen, “how to experience spaces while ignoring the cultural imprints and connections to people that make them significant.” -Austin Allen

”Claiming Open Spaces is guided by interviews with social activists, city planners, urban designers, poets, landscape architects, historians, and most importantly, the people who use urban parks.”
-University of Colorado

“Austin Allen’s documentary takes a controversial stance: that African Americans’ conception of open space is different from that of the mostly white civic authorities who have closed public parks in recent years, denying blacks a vital gathering place… In building his case, Allen…creates a fascinating history of black America.”
– The East Bay Express

This is an article about University of Colorado students meeting with residents of the lower ninth ward to discuss redevelopment ideas.

“We believe, without a doubt, that this could be a vibrant, vital community if the right decisions are made,” said Austin. “This reconstruction will be planned, the question is whether the residents here will participate in the planning of their community. We hope we can help mobilize the community so they can communicate with the powers that be.” Austin Allen

Professor and Landscape Architect Joern Langhorst is teaching a UCD class about recovering post industrial and abandoned landscapes. His students are studying the Gates Factory redevelopment and coming up with their own ideas.

“Since the 1970s, the reclamation of abandoned, disused and derelict landscapes that were a product of distinctive technological activities and uses has become a topic of increasing importance and discourse. Using four case studies, I explore the evolution of approaches, frameworks, and underlying constructs of both socio-cultural and eco-technological systems that influence or determine the treatment of post-industrial landscapes. My focus is on two types of post-industrial landscapes in particular: landscapes of industrial production and landscapes of waste and refuse. Finally, I suggest that design approaches that incorporate and retain physical traces of previous uses and allow the site history to inform its current and future condition and that design approaches that incorporate a participatory involvement of the surrounding communities facilitate more successful results. The understanding of design as a temporal and open-ended activity further enhances the potential to create meaningful and functional open spaces on post-industrial sites.”
-Jörn Langhorst

The following link is to a paper entitled Rebuilding the post-industrial landscape: Interaction between
landscape and biodiversity on derelict land by scholar and urban planner Chris Ling

windows as art

October 10, 2007





The Gates Factory has an abundance of windows, which I find the most beautiful part of the factory, especially the northern buildings. Through chemicals, paint and time, many of the windows have oxidized or stained. They become even more vibrant by the rusting metal and the red brick. They tranform into pieces of art that change with the light. Each window containing it’s own unique beauty.

The other morning, there were cop cars surrounding the southern building and glass was shattered all over the parking lot. Someone had snuck in and smashed all the top floor windows. The following day they were all boarded up and will soon completely vanish after one last dance with the wrecking ball. They will never again change with the light.



Gates Factory Memestorm

October 10, 2007


Gates Factory Objectives

October 8, 2007

My primary objective for the Gates Factory project is to present the historical and current situation regarding this factory and urban redevelopment in a beautiful but haunting way. Above all, I want to provoke a dialogue. I want to create awareness, making people think about this situation without telling them my opinion. I want to honor this factory, creating a shrine like representation. However, I also will show it honestly, including its flaws, presenting the reasons the majority wants to tear it down.

Right now I am thinking about a second phase that may include some dialogue and presentation of what the future holds for this space (and other similar historical spaces, for example, Coney Island). I want to find a balance between an informative but dry documentary and strictly a beautiful work of art. Right now, I am hesitant to add dialogue or even images of this second phase because I am enjoying the current aesthetic and minimalism. However, I also want this piece to work as an intelligent documentary that presents this controversial situation from all sides. I hope to get some feedback (from my professors, colleagues and the blogging community) regarding how I can successfully walk this line.

Conceptual Overview/Background: To create awareness and necessary dialogue regarding historical preservation, urban development and public spaces among peers, colleagues and the community at large. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. There was a ton of open space, farmland and water. Then my family moved to the northern suburbs of Denver. It was a shocking change of scenery even in the early nineties but now the development around my parents’ neighborhood is out of control. Is this sprawl really necessary to accommodate the population growth or are irresponsible decisions being made? I want to become more informed on this topic that has always affected me. I want to research development companies, public space policies, and also make comparisons globally. How does the United States compare with other countries of a similar economy? Are other countries dealing with population growth in similar ways or have they found a smarter, more responsible approach. What kind of public space protection do other countries have?

Artist’s Influences/Points of Departure:
*Filmmaker and Architect Austin Allen’s “Claiming Open Spaces”
-A documentary on urban development and public space.
*Architect Neotha Meirath exploring space redevelopment issues in New Orleans
*Architect and Professor Jörn Langhorst exploring Gates Factory redevelopment issues and ideas with UCD students.

Project Prior Art: Coney Island and Lakeside Holga Photo Essays (shown below)

Potential Outcomes/Appropriate Venue: I would like to submit this video to a documentary oriented film festival. I would also like to find a local gallery that may show it. In addition, depending on the outcome, this film could be appropriate for showing Architecture and Urban Development students and firms. Austin Allen, a landscape architecture professor at University of Colorado has a background and undergraduate degree in film. He makes films regarding public spaces and urban development. I would like to talk with him about this project, possible venues and possible collaboration. I am hoping, if I choose to include dialogue, Professor Allen will speak in my video regarding development choices and issues.