DEAR PETER: The best concept I can imagine is a NEO MultiDATA strategy

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 11/28/2004 - 21:59.

The best concept for regional and global government, public, private, and foundation spending for economic development in this region that I can imagine is driving for a NEO MultiDATA strategy - Multimedia, Design, Architecture, Technology and Art - which fits my understanding of the purpose of our foundations and economic development visions and would revolutionize NEO's global position in many creative class and new economy ways which are not even contemplated in any of the writing and thinking I've seen around town but which are featured in major creative class communities world-wide.

Included in MultiDATA vision is a Philip Johnson conceived School of Architecture (he proposed that for our community around 1996 - perhaps it's not too late), integrating an urban and regional planning institute, featuring an "MIT-inspired" Media Lab, and multimedia production including music, video, gaming and film, and a CIA-rooted TIIMEish graphics center, and a Case-rooted third generation technology RDT center - research, development, transfer (open-source, advanced networking, IPv6, wireless, MEMS, RFID, nanotech, etc.), each and all with the capability to support secondary, vocational/trade/craft, highest education, advanced research, and entrepreneurism - from concepts and designs to production and commercialization.

Included should be applied sustainability and building trades and art and crafts, a dying concentration (needed for revitalization of our decaying historic building stock), once a strength of CIA and craft and trade people of our area, offering to lead to a new arts and crafts movement to integrate with the futuring of architecture and construction, as should take center stage in future America-building, which takes trades to higher paying arts, then being unique in the construction industries for the world (think of the advanced metal work craft/trade required for Gehry).

With NEO MultiDATA, I visualize integrating a multi-hub, multi-community model with facilities in University Circle - not just on the postage stamp Gund Building site but combining the museum extension, CIA and MOCA redevelopment, Case, Weatherhead, and perhaps part of the Mt. Sinai site - this would be our MoMA, RISD, MIT and so much more. I'd include the School for the Arts and then bridge UC to an early learning knowledge, vo-tech/trade/craft education, retraining, entrepreneurship and incubation center in mid-city - I picture redeveloping the Richmond Brothers fortress on E.55th - bridged to a shared-brand set of nodes at Cleveland State and CCC - corridored to a mind-blowing genius generation center, including the School of Architecture and urban and community planning, ideally in the flats, literally bridging the East and West banks (visualize the fun world-class architects will have with that) - further hubbed on the West Side with the current Max Hayes votech center on Detroit. All this would redefine new economy in Cleveland for the entire world - creating jobs, industry and reasons to live here.

With home-grown world-class architects and trades-folk and crafters, we'll beautifully fill in development gaps from east to west, ultimately justifying and optimizing developing the flats and Lakefront - even a convention center - as the need and resources are created to do this right - best-in-world - transforming one of the world's ugliest cities into a modern-day Paris - 10-20 year plan with an eye for the future beyond that (as opposed to the current cart before the horse model of doodling on the lake, hoping people will materialize to visit/live/work there).

I propose building/partnering/branding-in additional NEO MultiDATA affiliate centers in the suburbs (CCCs, LCC, other universities) all the way across the region's 13-22 counties - hubbed in Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, Kent - in other appropriate communities - integrating existing incubators and draws like the Akron and Inventors museums, Kent Fashion Museum, other Cleveland Museums - branding around one name and concept (and administration) for all makes the most sense.

The challenging issues in developing this are allowing nodes to maintain identity and purpose beyond NEO MultiDATA, as all would share resources and standardized core technologies.

To funders, improved efficiency means donations pay for valuable outcomes rather than waste - I believe unfathomable levels of funding can be raised across the region and from well beyond, and the results will generate wealth at every node - real wealth rather than charity.

NEO MultiDATA - Multimedia Design, Architecture, Tech & Art

I was searching REALNEO for a photo of the Gehry Building and came across this posting from 11/2004 that describes a development vision that is happening remarkably close to as outlined here. Since I wrote this, Philip Johnson died, so we lost the opportunity to have the school he intended, but Kent hired a world-class dean or architecture and he is moving the Kent Grad School of Architecture here. There are plans coming together for that school and other "Genius" learning downtown and the flats is the best option - more to follow on how this vision is becoming reality.

NEO is ripe with opportunity

So much has changed since this article was submitted over a year ago. It seems that now, more than any other time in our recent past, there are great opportunies for NEO to change for the better.  We are  at a critical juncture  in the future of our region. Just to name a few things in addition to the Kent Grad School of Architecture, MOCA is moving to University Circle, claiming the Triangle area and commissioning an architectural masterpiece, CIA has opened The Future Center and embarked on a move from the Gund building, the CMA has found a promising new director and plunged into a major expansion, Frank Jackson has replaced Jane Campbell as mayor, Eric Brewer is the new Mayor of East Cleveland, Cleveland Schools have a new CEO, Case's president Hundert has resigned, the Cleveland Clinic purchased Health Space, gas prices have finally forced petrol addicted Ohians to consider the state of public transportation, and the value of alternative fuels, and citizens are challenging ODOT to respect historic landmarks and build a bridge worthy of our city.