A Look Inside the 5 Long Beach Projects that Stood out in a Pool of 4,500 Others

Graphics courtesy of Baktaash Sorkhabi/City Fabrick.

Out of 4,500 applicants vying for money from the Knight Foundation through its Knight Cities Challenge, only 144 were awarded, five of which proudly came from and plan to alter Long Beach.

From being represented by our own Long Beach Public Library to one of our most respected architectural firms Studio One Eleven, the projects span from fostering live music to paying more attention to our stretch of the Los Angeles River.

The point of the challenge is simple. The Knight Foundation launched the $15M, three-year promise to invest in its 26 Knight Communities across the nation in order to provide money to projects that achieve one of three things: 1)  help cities attract and keep talented people; 2) expand economic prospects and break down divides; 3) spur connection and civic involvement.

Remember Party at the Polls, last year’s project by City Fabrick that turned spaces surrounding polling places into grub hubs and friendly political pulpits? That was a winner of the Knight Cities Challenge—and City Fabrick has, yet again, scored for their winning idea, a partnership with the City of Long Beach dubbed Coolidge Down Under (and one of our personal faves).

The idea? Turn a vast, empty space underneath the 91 Freeway into an underpass park.

CoolidgeDownUnder1

“While essential to how many of us get around every day, freeways have been one of the most impactful types of infrastructures for urban communities. They have carved up neighborhoods, creating physical barriers between neighbors, families and friends,” stated Brian Ulaszewski, Principal and Executive Director of City Fabrick. “The Coolidge Down Under Park has the opportunity to heal some of those wounds by stitching together some North Long Beach neighborhoods with new public open space.”

The proposal would ultimately connect neighborhoods adjacent to Coolidge Triangle while increasing access to the existing Coolidge Park with two additional acres of public space that offer everything from playing courts to social spaces.

CoolidgeDownUnder2

Other projects include:

  • Busker Booth, proposed by the Long Beach Public Library, will be providing opportunities for the unsung heroes of street music with a portable micro-recording booth for up-and- coming musicians.
  • The Growing Experience Program, proposed by Jimmy Ng, plans on engaging youth in underserved neighborhoods and teaching them new skills by inviting them to create an “edible green wall” network that can harvest herbs, flowers, fruit and vegetables throughout Long Beach’s nine council districts.
  • LA River Storie, submitted by Julia Guy, hopes to inspire public planning that puts the needs of city residents first by promoting human-centered design and policy through a multimedia public engagement project showcasing stories about the diverse residents that use the Los Angeles River.
  • POPulated: Parklets for All, headed by Studio One Eleven, will be providing greater opportunities for community engagement and play by transforming on-street parking stalls into inclusionary public spaces that provide amenities to local neighborhoods.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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