The University of Kentucky College of Design recently unveiled their entry in the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam. This iteration of the bi-annual international exhibition focused on the efforts surrounding “making city,” a term used as the underlying theme of the exhibition.
As IABR Chief Curator George Brugmans states, “We are convinced that lasting solutions must be sought using socially motivated, broadly supported agenda for the city…If making city is the task at hand, we must really go about it differently, with strong alliances, with good design, and from a genuinely urban agenda.”
It is this unique approach to “making city” that led IABR to accept the College of Design’s River Cities Project as one of 25 participants in the exhibition, and one of two accepted from the US. Within the exhibit, the College of Design featured two studios: The Henderson Project and the Paducah Project.
The Henderson Project proposes a redevelopment of the Henderson Municipal Power Plant (HMPL#1), a decommissioned coal fired power plant located on the Ohio river, in the heart of Henderson, KY. By re-functionalizing HMPL#1 and bringing new public amenities to the site, the project is intended to revitalize Henderson’s waterfront and have a positive effect on the region’s business, tourism, and urban fabric.
The Paducah Project took on the tremendous challenge of developing a one hundred and fifty year plan for Kentucky's Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PDGP). The PGDP once provided thousands of high-paying jobs, which have diminished over the years and will soon be eliminated upon the plants closure. Rather than see these numerous problems as cause for the region’s demise, the students looked at the problem as the solution. The studio proposed a new economy generated by the complex process of cleaning up the site.
In each instance, the College of Design is serving a unique role in a public-private partnership—bringing together city government, community patrons, and a research driven agenda. The results of this approach now on display at the IABR.
The exhibition will be open to the public until August 12, 2012, during which over 100,000 visitors are expected to visit the institute.
Other cities and projects featured in the exhibition included: Sao Paolo, Istanbul, Rotterdam, Paris, The Hague, The Nile River Delta, Brussels, New York City, Singapore, Zurich, Guatemala, Dehli and Bordeaux, among others.