FutureStructure

U.S. Cities Pursue Creative Urban Innovation Projects

Cities across the nation are creatively repurposing vacant buildings and other infrastructure to better serve their populations.

by Citiscope / August 18, 2016
A vacant school in Kansas City will become Westport Commons, the largest co-working space in the world. Credit Rendering courtesy of SDPKC and the project’s architect, BNIM

Repurposed vacant buildings. The world’s largest indoor vertical farm. A dining court for a food desert. Eilene Zimmerman reports for The New York Times that these projects are among the faces of innovation in U.S. cities.

On Chicago’s South Side, an artist and professor from the neighborhood purchased a neglected former bank building for $1 from the city. Theaster Gates Jr., raised funds through his nonprofit Rebuild Foundation to turn it into a community “Arts Bank,” the article says. The new space is an art gallery, library and community center. Citywide, Chicago will deploy hundreds of sensors this summer to collect data on vitals such as air quality and traffic and to anticipate floods and other problems.

Another example of creative repurposing is taking shape in Kansas City. The Midwestern city is transforming a vacant middle school into the world’s largest co-working space, with room for more than 200 companies and entrepreneurs.

Just outside New York City in Newark, a city that has struggled with poverty and crime, AeroFarms is constructing the world’s largest indoor vertical farm, the Times says. In another food-related endeavor, Birmingham, Ala., is introducing an ethnically diverse dining hall to a former food desert. Located on the ground floor of a redeveloped department store, it will include a startup incubator for chefs.

This story was originally published by Citiscope.