Tuesday, January 07, 2020

bringing 3d printing to the public - a map of downtown youngstown

In a world of internet mapping and information at one's fingertips, I still get asked about once a week in downtown Youngstown for directions to a certain location.

"Where's the DMV located?"

"Is this the building for the Social Security office?"

"How many more blocks until we reach the Science Museum?"

But aside from information, mapping can unite a place.

Besides function, sculptural mapping can serve as a tourist attraction. And as you'll discover in some of the next photos, it can help the blind to "see".

How can we use this in a unique Youngstown way?

- - -

Glasgow is a Scottish city which has really transformed itself over the last decade since I've visited. I love the "People Make Glasgow" messaging that appears throughout its streets.

Along Buchanan Street, a commercial pedestrian walkway connecting the Queen Street Station to the River Clyde to the south, one can find cast metal maps to help tourists and the public find their way.

Locations such as various train stations, government buildings, and cultural venues are marked with numbers across the street layout.

If you're new to a city, this physical mapping places the information in front of you, and helps you intuitively understand the space. The map itself slopes downward in elevation to the river's edge, and along the streets, one can see the decline as well, helping to orient you. One downside is keeping up with a changing Glasgow. A casted map as large as this probably takes a lot of resources to update, if updated at all.

Walking east towards the University of Strathclyde, here is another casted map, helping one to find the Glasgow Cathedral and the amazing adjacent Necropolis.

Jumping to the Korean capital of Seoul, an enormous interactive map in the Seoul Museum of History helps individuals to navigate this mega-city. Blinking lights, video screens, moving cameras help one to orient themselves in the districts around the city on either side of the Han river.

Let's skip to another great locale, Lyon in central France where the Saône River flows into the mighty Rhône. Perched on the hillside east of the central cultural district, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a sight to behold and offers great sweeping views of the floodplain and many buildings for miles.

While many come to this site for a vista of the valley below, not everyone can experience this view. To orient visitors the Rotary Clubs of Lyon worked with other partners to produce another type of cast map.

Created by Dan Ohlmann, the piece Regard Sur La Ville (a view of the city) was designed with the help of visually-impaired individuals, and offers explanations of the buildings and the rivers of the city in both French and Braille. The piece invites visitors to visit the various districts of Lyon from "the tips of your fingers" by touching the metal buildings and tracing the streets.

So how can we adapt these ideas to a unique experience in Youngstown?

- - -

Youngstown and its partners are developing an economic ecosystem for three-dimensional printing and additive manufacturing. Building a cluster takes years with federal partners, the private sector, educational institutions, but also the public needs to be engaged.

This public engagement is tough. Perhaps we've seen a 3-d printer in a library or school but how often have we touched a piece with our hands?

There is a gallery and a window to America Makes on Boardman street, but the printed products are on one side of the glass, and the public usually on the other side. And Boardman Street on that end of downtown is a relatively dead space due to the design of the street and lack of commerce and living opportunities.

An exciting development which is in the consciousness of the public is the $3 million NFL Helmet Challenge, a partnership between America Makes and the National Football League.

Might a three-dimensional printed map of Downtown Youngstown in a common space help to bring the concepts of additive manufacturing to the people?

Some additional benefits or considerations:
  • Similar to Lyon, local service clubs like the Rotary and the Lions can partner with sight agencies to integrate universal design into a a three-dimensional map, allowing some people to "See with their fingertips" the downtown and campus of Youngstown for the first time.
  • Since the map can be printed in pieces and assembled at one site, if a new building is built downtown, then a new building can be printed and added to the model (instead of casting an entire metal map like in Glasgow).
  • The continued need to update the map can engage local designers and YSU geography students, as there is/was a 3D Campus Team engaged in 3D modeling and GIS.
  • Youngstown lacks a central tourism office with ground floor access (and needs one) and perhaps the co-location of this map with a tourism office would make the launch stronger.
Is this concept worth pursuing?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

new music performance stage, new tamales, new laptop vending - within a small stretch of Mahoning Avenue

It's exciting to see entrepreneurs hit their milestones.

This came to mind as owner Nate Offerdahl was sharing his vision during a tour of West Side Bowl, where this new Youngstown music venue will welcome guests for the first time to their expanded Main Stage, this Friday November 23. Headlining the night's activities will be the great act Spirit of the Bear.

The Main Stage is built out of wood repurposed from eight of the existing bowling lanes. What's really awesome, West Side Bowl has partnered with neighborhood artists who live on the surrounding streets to add to the character of the space.

So not only can you bowl here, and drink a Penguin Beer here, and order a pierogi pizza here, and admire the art by talented neighbors, but you can also rock out now both downstairs and upstairs throughout West Side Bowl at 2617 Mahoning Ave.

This place is really coming together ... with a mural in progress from Eric Alleman on the west wall, a mural from Craig Latchaw Jr on the east wall, and sculptures from Tony Armeni along the front of the structure.

The Downstairs Stage has been hosting a great variety of acts too. A neat feature of the space is the acoustic paneling, made from the t-shirts of touring bands and local organizations.

West Side Bowl offers a monthly calendar showing the variety of activities taking place, including comedy shows, karaoke, bar bingo, bowling leagues, and trivia nights.

And where one business pops up, others follow.

Just a few doors down La Huasteca opened three weeks ago at 2328 Mahoning Ave. This place has got some legit food.

We're talking tortas, sopes, aqua frescas, in addition to the standard fare you find at many mexican restaurants. For the proteins, you have a wide array of choices including marinated beef, pork with pineapple (pastor), beef tongue (lengua), chorizo, and chicken.

Adding to the mix on weekends are soups like Menudo and Pozole, and regional specialties as some of the employees are from El Salvador. 

Here's a pastor torta, with slices of avacado, bean spread under the toasted bun, with sides of limes, sauteed onions, radishes, cucumbers, and pickled jalapenos.

A simple chicken taco, with some of their homemade sauce on top.

Food orders can be take-out or sit-down. Damn good horchata.

Here is a beef tongue taco. It was magnificent.

And a corn papusa on the weekend, served with a marinated cabbage, the special Salvadorean sauce, and some hot peppers.

Check out the tamale, served in a banana leaf. Just excellent all around.

And to write this blog, all I had to do was walk down to the new Michael Kusalaba (West) Library at 2815 Mahoning Avenue.

They have this wonderful vending kiosk where you can use your library card, and check out a laptop to use around the library.

It's great getting to know the people who make all of these places possible, from Nate and Jami at West Side Bowl, to the families new to the United States running La Huasteca, to the friendly librarians at the Kusalaba branch.

All of these places started with a dream ... a dream now becoming reality.

Will be exiting to see what business opportunities pop up next along this slice of Mahoning. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

two minute tour on the corner of Federal and Phelps

The intersection of Federal and Phelps is becoming an interesting crossroads for the rapidly changing downtown.

Just a few short years ago we had at the intersection (NW) a 1899 Daniel Burnham Building with a basket store and a record shop, (NE) another Daniel Burnham building from 1910 previously owned by the city and 13 floors sitting empty, (SW) a women's hair salon in the 1930 Art Deco Peggy Ann building, and (SE) the venerable Silver's Suit/Mensware Shop.

Here are a few shots from a two minute tour in early 2014:

Today, you have Roberto's Italian Restaurant which has opened up a beautiful stone walled subterranean expansion (check out the fireplace and mantle in the photo above)

And after the great William Leonard's Extraordinary Gentlemen (still operating downtown) moved from the Peggy Ann Building, Friends Specialty Coffee with their locally-roasted beans moved in. Here's a shot of their immersion technique for a nice weekend coffee:

The Federal Building is now complete with a very well-managed restaurant on the ground floor, with gas-fed outside heating lamps and even valet parking on the weekends along with 100% full residential spaces on the remaining floors.

The Wick Building is undergoing massive renovations with historical tax credits by the State of Ohio for more downtown housing.

And the venerable Silver's is at the corner, dressing Youngstown's finest with suits, shirts, and dress shoes.

- - -

But what we need to do is move the intersection from GOOD to GREAT...  

What are some of your suggestions to improve this intersection?

Some might include:

- removing the boarded-up grey windows from the second floor of Silver's. While the ground level is appealing, moving one story up is a different visual experience.

- removing the newspaper box chained to the tree outside of V2 which obstructs the walking path.

- fixing the brickwork along Phelps after construction, that has only been filled in haste with filler material.

- fixing the facade of the Peggy Ann Building along Phelps as one walks towards the great Touch the Moon Candy Saloon. A big chunk is removed from the side of the building.

- businesses working together to clean the sidewalk of cigarette butts and other pieces of trash that are unfortunately left by pedestrians and patrons. (side note: wonder what the cost/benefit ratio would be of stationing a police officer to issue tickets for littering between 20 Federal Place and the Downtown Circle)

- replicating the historical cornice on the top of the Wick Building, as it was originally designed.

These are just a few options for this space. 

While this intersection has come a long way from a few years ago, what else do you think can be improve there?