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Design Connect Team Transforms Historic Collegetown Site

The Andrew D. White Gate, commonly known as “Eddy Gate,” transformed this past weekend, parading with students and members of the Ithaca community. Eddy Gate became a vibrant public space, furnished with new seating and table arrangements and several lighting and art installations.

The project is one of the four Design Connect projects this semester, in collaboration with Cornell University’s Campus Planning Office, aiming to inspire and support the idea of improving the once prominent entry-way into Cornell’s campus. The office spent years thinking about what to do with the site, considering its prominent location between the campus, Collegetown neighborhood, and the Cascadilla Gorge all in close proximity. The Design Connect team moved forward with the idea of a “tactical urbanism” project that would temporarily transform the Eddy Gate location to a pop-up park.

Months of preparation involved an array of tasks for the Design Connect team. Group member Rhea Lopes (M.R.P. ’19) commented, “The work was surely very hands on and collaborative…involved coordinating and negotiating with different student groups and commercial stakeholders on and off campus, managing tight budgets, and spreading the word about the event through creative means. Eddy Gate is no longer a product from a team, but rather a network.”

Members of the Design Connect group spent nights prior to the opening weekend creating the materials for the project. On the night before the first day of Project Eddy Gate, group members arranged the set up accordingly to “zones”, indicated by the team’s master plan document. The modular component of the zones allowed the team to be flexible, in the events of an adjusted budget that would impact the resources that could be purchased. These zones comprised of a park, decorative entrance from College Town, floating lantern path, interactive art pieces, and a bazaar.

On its second day, Project Eddy Gate bustled with students and Ithaca residents. Community members were eager to see how transformative the site became through the intervention. “Throughout the event, people were asking us when we were going to do it again. Residents and students flocked to the space this weekend and we couldn’t have been happier with the turnout,” team member Elyse Belarge (M.R.P. ’19) stated.

Student organizations from Cornell sponsored the event through providing live performances at the pop-up stage. Music groups included performances by Cornell Samba, Jazz Voices, and Yamatai. Solo musicians also performed throughout the Saturday programming.

Photo: Facebook page for Project Eddy Gate

The main objective of the installation focused to¬†collect data from the College Town community. “This project will allow for input from citizens as they traverse or use the space, with the intent of making data gathering a collaborative and democratic process, as well as a creative one,” the master plan document stated. In addition to surveys being handed out, installations also gathered visual feedback from people on what they envisioned Eddy Gate should be.

The Design Connect team hopes that data collected from the weekend will aid the Campus Planning Office to gather and garner support for more physical improvement and restore community investment in the Eddy Gate location.







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