Organization and community: Cook Inlet Housing Authority (Anchorage, AK)
Cook Inlet Housing Authority collaborated with artist/landscape architect Chad Taylor on the Reclaiming Asphalt I & II projects as an opportunity to provide a more welcoming place, and focus more on people and less on vehicles, along Spenard Road. The projects consisted of several installations surrounding the area where Cook Inlet Housing Authority owns contiguous properties along Spenard Road: an old post office and church, and their office headquarters. Chad worked with a cadre of artists to:
- Create a welcoming semi-public plaza;
- Introduce more green space and a place for activation and interaction to happen, and
- Use the creative destruction of fencing to envision the previously disparate properties as a vibrant campus that is connected physically and programmatically.
The organization also challenged the artists to use this opportunity to demonstrate more practical sidewalk widths than the existing deficient, dangerous three-foot pathways. They accomplished this through a colorful, horizontal mural that depicted five-foot, eight-foot and 10-foot wide sidewalks. The project also included vertical installations that celebrated the neighborhood’s historic importance as Dena’ina land and its more recent inglorious past as a strip club and massage parlor destination.
The community has responded enthusiastically to visioning the future state of the campus, with the former church transformed into a cultural community hub, a collection of strong local businesses, and a place that promotes improvements to the streetscape that are reflective of the people who live here.