Posts tagged with "Cincinnati":

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DPMT7 design collective explores entropy at Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center

Work by DPMT7, a Cincinnati-based architecture/design collective, is now on show at The Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery in downtown Cincinnati. DPMT7: Un Teatro Del Nuovo fills the gallery with a scaffolding structure and examines the “role of Architecture (“A” for emphasis) in a world of entropy.” The unprogrammed web of frames and lines divides the two-story gallery into smaller intimate spaces. On the lower level, construction scaffolding, safety nets, and other rough materials define the space. “The simplicity of the line moves through the city,” reads the gallery statement, “reinforcing the degradation of the existing without masking it.” The upper level is filled with models of multiple scales, including a set of large columns built from numerous raw construction materials. These elements are augmented by large scale drawings and collages. DPMT7 is a collective based at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Led by Vincent Sansalone, the team also includes Ryan Ball, Kory Beighle, Sean Cottengim, Nicholas Germann, Whitney Hamaker, and Joseph Kinzelman. DPMT7: Un Teatro Del Nuovo Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery Aronoff Center for the Arts 650 Walnut Street Cincinnati, Ohio Through August 27th
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Cincinnati builds what will be the country’s first Net Zero Energy police station

The City of Cincinnati has recently put the final touches on perhaps the country’s most sustainable police stations. Recently certified LEED Platinum, the District Three Police Station is set to become the first Net Zero Energy police station in the country. Designed by Cincinnati-based emersion DESIGN in close collaboration with Messer Construction, the project was conceived as design-build from the beginning. The team was responsible for the architecture, interior design, structural engineering, sustainable consulting, and public engagement. Landscape design was handled by Cincinnati-based Human Nature. The new station was a long time coming. The former District Three Police Station was over 100 years old, and the city as a whole has not built a new police station in over 40 years. In replacing the station, the city looked at 27 different sites and 14 neighborhoods in the district to find the most impactful location. The site the city chose is in the West Price Hill Neighborhood Center, which has been pegged for transformation. The hope is the station will help spur development, and add to the area's improved pedestrian and bicycle focus. The project team held a series of community charrettes and the design aims for a physical connection with the nearby area: a colonnade in front of the station corresponds with 14 identical columns located throughout the district. emersion Design used various energy models to test the project's orientation, massing, fenestration, and thermal envelope qualities. A compact building footprint, advanced storm water system, and extensive drought tolerant landscaping opens the project to the public and showcases its sustainability goals. Other sustainable technologies used include a roof covered in photovoltaics and 40 geo-exchange wells. The construction process was also carefully planned to reduce waste. A total of 80.34 percent of the project’s construction diverted waste away from the region’s limited landfills. The design also called for recycled and local materials, and 97 percent Forest Stewardship Council certified wood. The District Three Police Station is the City of Cincinnati’s way of setting a benchmark for other civic buildings in the city and across the country.
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University of Cincinnati breaks ground on Henning Larsen’s first U.S. project

The University of Cincinnati (UC) has broken ground on what will be the first U.S. project for Denmark-based Henning Larsen Architects. The 225,000-square-foot Carl H. Lindner College of Business will take two years to build at a cost of $120 million. Henning Larsen’s design focuses on encouraging interaction and allowing for future flexibility. Specifically designed to work with UC’s West Campus master plan, the building will be a central meeting place for the entire campus. As a nexus of activity, the project is boarded by a new transit stop, the Campus Green, a bustling pedestrian way, the campus Library, and a new plaza. The ground floor interacts with the Campus Green's landscaped mounds and numerous pedestrian paths through varied stepped levels. The green roofscape continues the connection with the surrounding campus via multiple lookout points, all varying in height to address neighboring structures. The roof's curving lines also make reference to the pedestrian paths below. Large open-air atria puncture the four-story building at different levels, bringing in light and air to the heart of the project. The interior space planning aims to bring faculty, students, and the greater Cincinnati business community together. Public functions fill the completely transparent ground level. A lecture hall and auditorium make up the largest programmed spaces, while a seating staircase and indoor and outdoor furniture allow for more informal meetings. Quieter spaces line some of the atria, allowing students to work under natural light. Along with a goal of achieving LEED Gold Certification, the project utilized Henning Larsen’s dedicated sustainability specialists throughout the entire design process. The team analyzed everything from wind forces to solar loads and local microclimates. Simulations based on that data were used to inform the form and orientation of the project. Henning Larsen has lead the design of the project while Cincinnati-based KZF Design is acting as architect of record. The design was chosen through a competition, with the Henning Larsen/KZF team beating out a shortlist that included Foster+Partners . The competition was part of the University’s Signature Architecture Program, which has helped bring work by the likes of Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Peter Eisenman, and Thom Mayne to the campus.
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Under Construction> Early Childhood Center at Cincinnati Country Day School

Adding to an impressive portfolio of projects on Cincinnati Country Day School’s campus, Michael McInturf Architects (MMA) has completed designs for the private school's latest addition: a 4-classroom house-like structure for 18-month to 3-year olds. The campus, 15 miles from downtown Cincinnati, includes a high school structure designed in collaboration with Greg Lynn circa 2001.   Since then, the firm has engaged in multiple rounds of masterplanning studies yielding a new elementary school, a sports pavilion, and a maintenance facility. MMA is also currently planning a major renovation to the campus athletic center and anticipates a completion date of late 2016 for this Early Childhood Center project. The facility will include a sculptural playscape—an outdoor landscape that formally connects the school to its neighboring elementary school—and a nature trail for programmed outdoor activities. The architects say this new “home” for Early Childhood education at Cincinnati Country Day will provide a "welcoming, fun and inspiring environment to house such a critical aspect of the campus experience." While facilitating improved learning and safety for the newest members of the campus, the design seeks to reinforce a core value of the distinctive educational program: a connection to nature. The design is informed by spatial equity, light, views, and play. A continuous “Ribbon Wall” weaves the spaces together to create a playful interaction between interior and exterior. The wall, formed from custom bent plywood, will be clad in a dark stained hardwood rainscreen. Roof monitors register four classroom spaces equally distributed radially around a central gathering space. The building is organized along a solar axis that maximizes natural daylight for each of the classroom spaces with respect to their most active use periods. Construction is anticipated to be complete later this year.
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Frederick and Harriet Rauh Residence wins Residential Design Award of Excellence from Docomomo

A modernist dwelling in the leafy village of Woodlawn near Cincinnati has picked up the Residential Design Award of Excellence from the Docomomo 2016 Modernism in America Awards. Less than a decade ago, the house—formerly owned by Frederick and Harriet Rauh—was in a mire of dereliction and decay. Located on 10068 Leacrest Road and originally built in 1938, the Rauh residency was designed by architect John H. Becker but had fallen victim to vandalism and neglect. In 2010, daughter of the original owners, Emily Rauh Pulitzer (an in-law of Joseph Pulitzer) donated the house, and funds to return it to its former glory, to the Cincinnati Preservation Association. Carrying out the restoration process was construction firm of Crapsey and Giles. Such was the success of their work, the house has also won a Preservation Merit Award by the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO). "Preservation of modern architecture is not always an obvious choice," said Paul Muller, executive director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association, to The Architect's Newspaper. "Since modernist buildings are close in time to us, and have not taken the glow of the distance past, many are in danger of just looking wore out, or worse, out-of-date, but not yet historic. One of the most rewarding aspects of the restoration of the Rauh house was that, because it was such an innovative design when built in 1938, the building still has a powerful impact on visitors. It has an exceptional ability to show how the modern style incorporated flowing space, connected the inside to the exterior, used abstract shapes to make intriguing compositions and celebrated industrial materials. We are lucky to have such an important example of modernism the restored to its original glory."
Jury Chair, Frederick A. Bland, FAIA, AICP meanwhile said: “An unusual example of the International Style of modernism in Ohio, this scholarly and holistic approach to the preservation of this severely deteriorated house and site will provide future generations a rich example of the full spectrum of many components of modernism. Not only will the building itself be preserved but also the landscape, furnishings, and art. A laudable added feature, a public outreach program including tours and symposia, is intended to engage and instruct the public.”
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Cincinnati’s CAC to host a celebration of the life and work of Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid’s untimely death has triggered a global conversation surveying her work and status in the history of the discipline. A wealth of former educators, partners, and colleagues has illuminated Zaha’s professional body of work with deeply personal tributes. Their words help to break down her mystique for the rest of us, and perhaps add another dimension to a body of work that spans over three decades. Adding to the conversation is an upcoming event at the Hadid-designed Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. The building is notably her first project in the United States, and has been called the first major museum in the United States to be designed by a female architect. Part panel discussion, part celebration, the event will be, according to CAC Director Raphaela Platow, an “afternoon of storytelling.” The program will survey Zaha’s work to the present, speculate on her firm’s future projects. Beyond this, a discussion of the CAC’s commission and construction promises to share stories of the famed architect’s working process. “Equity in Architecture—Zaha Hadid’s mentorship,” presented by Associate Dean of DAAP Patricia Kucker, will explore Zaha’s influence to architects worldwide as a woman that broke through barriers and challenged perceptions.
Platow said Hadid’s selection to design the CAC was aligned with their mission to celebrate cutting-edge work: “When our committee selected Zaha as the architect of The Rosenthal Center she had only successfully finished one building but her ideas, plans, models, and competition submissions where beyond remarkable; they were back then already showing a future path for architecture.” “Celebrating the Life and Work of Zaha Hadid” will be held at the Contemporary Arts Center on May 7th from 1:00-3:30pm. Free and open to the public. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: EVENT SPEAKERS:
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Do Ho Suh’s ethereal art at the Cincinnati CAC

Walking the streets of downtown Cincinnati, it is easy to miss Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Arts Center (CAC)—especially to those on the lookout for the free-flowing parametrically derived forms. The CAC is something different. Boxy and monolithic, its gallery volumes give way to a generous interior lobby that is surprisingly porous. Views up through the six floors of galleries are pierced by a continuous thread of stair runs. It was here in the lobby that an inspired Do Ho Suh met with curator Steven Matijcio, embarking on a two-year journey that has led to Passage, a landmark survey of the Korean artist’s work.

Suh’s work is a deeply personal exploration, mapping identity, memory, and his reflections on the idea of home. The artist—living transnationally among Seoul, New York, and London—produces work that strides between the intimate space of the individual and collective networks that bind us together. Passage contains a remarkable range of media: Six new pieces are dispersed alongside drawings, videos, architectural models, and Suh’s iconic, highly detailed “transportable fabric” sculptures.

While it is easy to become seduced by the quality of objects resulting from various mapping techniques aimed at documenting abstract memories and emotions, the most compelling aspect of the exhibition is not Suh’s artwork. Rather, it is the ways in which Suh’s virtually constructed spaces seem to haunt Hadid’s architecture. Traversing the galleries through a continuous staircase system allows Suh to take the visitor on a path through his personal history. Ghostlike forms float in the background behind the CAC’s powerful massing. Suh’s videos mutate from a solitary screen along a vast gallery wall to an immersive projection, which literally envelops the viewer. At the terminus to the exhibit, a dead-end corridor invites potentially lost visitors to reflect on their understanding of home. 

A significant example of the dialogue between Suh and Hadid is how Suh’s fabric sculpture Reflection is revealed to visitors. We first stumble upon the sculpture almost accidentally. Turning a corner, a blue archway modeled after Suh’s childhood home hangs upside-down overhead—its ornate roof tiling and decorative wall patterning conveniently at eye level. A fabric ground plane conceals the remainder of the sculpture, which is revealed only upon leaving the gallery. Here, we finally see the entirety of the piece. A doubling of the image consumes nearly the entire volume of the gallery below. A changing of perspective, enabled by Hadid’s architecture, reveals new views into Suh’s world. Continuing to exit the galleries, one must walk through the hallway of Suh’s New York stairwell, as if leaving his apartment before continuing down Hadid’s stairwell. Suh’s works in these cases have been carefully arranged to heighten the reveal through a careful juxtaposition within Hadid’s circulation system. Walking through the CAC is temporarily no longer about experiencing Hadid’s space, it is about experiencing Suh’s.

Another key moment occurs on the upper floor where limitless virtual space is explored. The stair, leading to the upper level of the exhibition, begins in a dark space enclosed in fabric where models of vernacular houses from Suh’s life have been grafted into foreign contexts. Exiting the room, the viewer is presented with a series of multicolored fabric rooms, becoming narrower and narrower, until dead-ending in a video area where a camera steadily moves, drone-like, through the streets of Korea. A sense of discomfort arises. First presented with loose hand drawings, Suh’s work has a mechanistically precise quality deeper into the exhibition. When this initial fuzziness gives way to precision, our senses heighten as we try to process the details. It’s as if Suh’s memories are becoming clearer as we proceed—or as if the separation between virtual and physical is not so distinct.

At times, Suh’s work feels uneasy and foreign in Hadid’s building, while at other points along his “passage,” the work feels strangely made for her space: “magically site-specific” in the words of Matijcio. Perhaps this is a result of aesthetic differences in their projects. Suh’s use of color as an organizational strategy—a mapping tool to communicate geographical information—activates Hadid’s muted museum palette. Hadid’s broad, sweeping architectural gestures play nicely with Suh’s borderline obsessive attention to detail. Both are motivated by a utopian ideal: The museum as a central meeting place open to the city, and the search for humanity’s deeper collective unity.

Compelling art exhibitions are able to ground the viewer and offer an immersive engagement with the subject matter, while allowing space for moments of self-reflection and imagination. This is where Passage succeeds. By pairing Suh’s work with the fundamental diagram of the building, Hadid’s CAC has been suddenly activated and transformed. The dialogue produced by these two architectures—one embedded into the city, the other momentary and fleeting elevates both the work of the architect and the work of the artist to an excitingly synergistic level. When it all comes down on September 11, 2016, perhaps the real question will be how Hadid’s galleries will feel once the nebulous images of Suh’s past have vanished.

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Cincinnati preservationists fight to save 124-year-old Dennison Hotel

Spearheading the efforts to save the Dennison is the Cincinnati Preservation Collective (CPC). Preservationist have argued that if the Dennison is razed, then no historic buildings in the downtown are safe. The owners of the property, Columbia Development Corp., have said that they want to build a Class-A office tower on the site to attract a Fortune 500 company. The CPC is skeptical, citing the fact that Columbia Development Corp. has bought and razed buildings claiming to have development plans only to leave the property as a surface parking lot. In one case an entire block was demolished and has sat as a parking lot for 29 years. Columbia Development has gone through the steps to assess the feasibility of redevelopment or complete rebuilding of the site. A document filed with the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board outlines the condition of the building as well as the cost of redevelopment. The document states that the building's poor condition currently poses a public safety and that redevelopment would be cost prohibitive. The document also describes one of the reasons Columbia Development bought the property: “This acquisition was necessary to protect the family’s investment in this block of downtown Cincinnati,” referring to the investments made by the Columbia Development Corps. and its parent Joseph Auto Group in the nearby area. The hotel's previous owners had planned to redevelop the building as affordable housing or transitional housing for persons with disabilities or addiction transitioning out of homelessness. Columbia Development Corp. will present their vision for the site, and request a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the building, in a public hearing in front of the Historic Conservation Board at 4pm EDT on Monday, April 18th at the Cincinnati City Hall.
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Cincinnati’s century-old abandoned rapid-transit rail project

Beginning as early as the 1880s, and continuing through the 1920s, a 16-mile rapid-transit rail project was conceived in Cincinnati, entering a construction phase that to this day remains incomplete. At the time, Cincinnati was one of the top 10 most populated cities and urban congestion was at an extreme capacity. An underground subway was proposed, replacing an aging canal system, connecting downtown with its surrounding urban neighborhoods. The proposed system facilitated an interurban transportation network incorporating nine suburban electric railroads that transferred passengers to streetcars servicing downtown. The project has been called the “The Cousin of Boston's Red Line” by transit experts and, if completed, would have been one of the few pre-WWII subways in the country, joining similar east coast systems still in operation to this day. Complex political, economic, and social forces caused the project to be ultimately cancelled in 1928. “Throughout the project, State and Federal law kept interfering with what Cincinnati wanted to do,” says researcher and documentary photographer Jake Mecklenborg in an interview with historian Dan Hurley. Local politics didn’t help the project either. As post-war inflation caused lingering project costs to double, political leadership was transformed from a notoriously corrupt regime to a new political party which sought to differentiate itself by symbolically rejecting the project through divisive rhetoric and policy. In total, six stations along 11 miles of the system were constructed, but no track was laid and no subway cars were ordered. About 75 percent of the original construction—nearly everything above ground—has deteriorated to the point of collapse, or was demolished for highway infrastructure in the 1950s, a quarter century after being constructed. A two-mile stretch under downtown Cincinnati remains, linking three stations. The downtown tunnels are continuously maintained due to continual overhead vehicular traffic, and their adopted use as underground utility tunnels. The final cost to the city, at just over $13 million, was more than double the initial bond issue voted for by the electorate in 1916, and was not paid off until 1966. Perhaps the most interesting aspect to living with abandoned subway tunnels is the variety of alternative uses they inspire. The Liberty Street station was converted to a nuclear fallout shelter in the 1960s. Mecklenborg reports the shelter had radio gear and a phone system installed: “up until around 1990 this phone actually worked, and apparently tunnel vandals could make free calls. I have received several e-mails regarding the phone—one claimed that a pizza was ordered, and another said a buddy called his girlfriend in Paris.” A few of the most noteworthy attempts at reuse (most of which never succeeded due to logistical and/or legal issues) include:
  • Underground utility tunnels
  • Religious catacombs
  • Underground freight train delivery to downtown businesses
  • Underground winery with locally produced wine cellar storage
  • Experimental wind tunnel
  • Music festival location
  • Movie set location (Batman Forever)
  • Various light rail schemes
 
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Henning Larsen selected to design University of Cincinnati business school

The team of Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects and Cincinnati-based KZF Design have been selected by University of Cincinnati to design and construct the new $100 million Carl H. Lindner College of Business. The project will consist of 250,000 square foot of class rooms and facilities and will sit on the site of the current Russel C. Myers Alumni Center. The team was selected from a shortlist of three offices that also included London’s Foster+Partners and Bath, U.K.–based FCB Studios International. The process of picking international firms for the project is part of the University’s Signature Architecture Program, a campus planning program which has brought world renounced architects to the University of Cincinnati to design campus buildings for the past 15 years. Henning Larsen will join Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Peter Eisenman, and Thom Mayne, among others, in having a project on the Uptown campus. KZF Design will act as the local architect of record on the project. The interdisciplinary firm provides architecture, engineering, interiors, and planning, throughout the United States, and has worked on the University of Cincinnati campus in the past. Previously KZF worked with Thom Mayne as part of the Signature Architecture Program on the UC Campus Recreation Center. Founded in 1959, Henning Larsen Architects is known for its civic and cultural work, including the crystalline Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavik, Iceland and the more recent Kolding Campus at the University of Southern Denmark. With work throughout Europe and the Middle East, this project will be Henning Larsen’s first major project in the United States. Drawing on the traditions of Scandinavian design, their work often focuses on the control of natural light and the making of central communal spaces.
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Over a quarter of the streetcar systems taking shape in the U.S. are in Midwest cities

According to the American Public Transportation Association, a public transit advocacy group, there are more than 90 cities in the United States that are actively considering implementing streetcar systems. Of those 90, over a quarter are in the Midwest. Though all in different stages of planning, development, and construction, a handful are well underway, with service beginning as early as 2016. Kansas City and Cincinnati are both in the process of live testing their newly manufactured cars, while Milwaukee debates expanding its current plans. Though hundreds of cities across the country once had streetcars, by the 1960s most had been dismantled with the rise of the private automobile and public bus systems. The current renaissance of streetcar construction is often attributed to cities interested in bolstering downtown transit options, and encouraging more ecologically sustainable modes of transportation. Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, may be the first of the new Midwest streetcar lines to open in early 2016. Dubbed the RideKC Streetcar, the light blue electric trolleys will services a 2.2-mile street along Main St. The system will have four cars running between 16 stops for 18 hours a day. Similarly to streetcars of the past, electricity will be drawn from overhead wires. Unlike past services, the new cars will be wi-fi enabled and free to ride. This first leg of construction is being positioned as a first step in a much larger plan to link the entire Kansas City region with multi-model integrated transit system. Detroit’s new streetcar system will be unique in that it was masterminded by a private non-profit organization. The M-1 Rail, to open by 2017, draws on the economic power of small and large businesses along its route, philanthropic institutions, and a close tie with city government to realize a complex funding and administrative system for the public-private venture. At one point the project was envisioned to expand to a 9 mile route, with more involvement from regional transit partnerships. After multiple feasibility studies it was found that, for economic reason, the 3.3 mile current route was more viable, with possibilities of expansion in the near future. The path to building streetcar systems is often far from smooth. With resistance from state and local governments, it took Cincinnati voters electing new city councilors and rejecting multiple anti-rail ballot initiatives to realize their new transit system. With discussions starting in earnest in 2007 and construction starting in 2012, it will be nine years in the coming when the system finally opens in September 2016. The 3.6 mile loop will service the Over the Rhine neighborhood and the downtown, highlighting the original intent of the system to encourage development in both districts. The Over the Rhine neighborhood, a member of the National Register of Historic Places, has been experiencing a renaissance in the last 10 years, after decades of struggles with crime and declining population. In the case of Milwaukee’s streetcar project, set to open in 2018, the resistance has not been coming from the government as much as from a small group of vocal opponents, who have taken issue with the $124 million project. Though, with a recent failure of a petition to stop further expansion of the already approved first leg of the system, the opposition seems to have dried up. The majority of the funding for the Milwaukee Streetcar is coming from U.S. Department of Transportation grants and Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) Districts. The city and the federal government are betting on the street car to relieve vehicle congestion and pollution while raising property values along the route. Anticipating the rail’s impact on downtown Milwaukee, a 44-story residential tower by local architects Rinka Chung is planned to begin construction in 2016. The base of the project will integrate a streetcar stop along with shopping and office programs. Though it may have been 50 years since many U.S. cities have had street cars, the next five years will see large moves to reverse that situation. Along with KC, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Detroit, St. Louis, MO, and St.Paul, MN, are making moves to implement their own streetcar systems. With the rise of the suburbs and automobile travel often being blamed for the decline of the streetcar, it would seem that this new trend might be pointing towards yet another indicator of the tendencies of contemporary city dwellers. A greater environmental consciousness, neighborhood investment, and a shifted understanding of economic stability, define the values of a young population that streetcar systems across the Midwest, and the entire country, hope to leverage into success.
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The long history of a tall sidewalk: How elevated skywalks have failed cities in the United States

Skywalks, or elevated sidewalks, continually resurface as an urban solution to alleviate pedestrian traffic, provide additional retail space, and offer a safe alternative to sharing space with automobiles. However, each time a skywalk is actually realized, problems abound. The original elevated sidewalks are in Chester, England, and are believed to have been built in at least one iteration in the 13th century. Historians are unsure if the elevated sidewalks were implemented for retail opportunities or as flooding precaution, or both. Protected as a heritage site today, the Chester Rows inspired several master plans in the United States, particularly at the turn of the 20th century. In 1913, Scientific American published “The Elevated Sidewalk: How it Will Solve City Transportation Problems,” which made the logical claim that humans and cars shouldn’t be in the same place. Imposing traffic regulations would slow cars down, and having people and cars sharing the streets is dangerous. The proposal was to make Manhattan a “city of bridges” with pedestrians moving safely above ground while cars sped underneath. Yet this never happened in lieu of the signs and traffic regulations we use today. In the '60s, the idea of the elevated sidewalk resurged in nearly two dozen towns, including rather unlikely places such as Cincinnati, Ohio, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Morristown, Tennessee. The Minneapolis Skyway system was built in 1962 and had the added benefit of providing a climate-controlled path through the city in intense weather. For that same reason, St. Paul also implemented a similar Skyway. However, the pros are offset by some solid drawbacks—property disputes mean that it is often confusing as to who is responsible for maintaining the skywalks and a lack of commercial real estate along the walkways renders them desolate and perceived by the public as dangerous and crime-filled. Poor planning means that the sidewalks can be confusing and require maps; one example in particular is the “skyway to nowhere” on Wabasha Street in Minneapolis, which doesn’t connect to anything at all. Inspired by Minneapolis, the city of Cincinnati created its own robust skywalk system that opened in 1971 to help downtown retailers compete with enclosed malls and make it easier to navigate the downtown area. More segments were added well through the '90s, and for awhile, appear to be used quite regularly. But by 2002, the skywalks were falling into disrepair and the city’s “2002 Center City Plan” found that they actually were causing downtown economic activity to decline. The plan reported that when pedestrians bypassed the street, it made the downtown look abandoned and thus, a less desirable place to linger and spend money. In 2005, then-mayor Charlie Luken told The New York Times that the Skywalk is "ugly" and the space underneath is "yucky." The skyway is slowly being dismantled one chunk at a time. Morristown is particularly fraught over its elevated skywalk system, called the SkyMart, that was built in 1962 after the downtown was flooded and the commercial district was nearly wiped out. As was commonly the case around the country, the walkway system did not succeed in competing with malls, proved to be expensive to maintain, and, overall, did not live up to the expectations of the civic leaders. In one camp, supporters believe it is unique to the city and a “national treasure.” The other side deems it to be a hindrance to progress, unnecessarily expensive, and underused. It was submitted to the National Register of Historic Places in the early 1990s, but it was denied. Recently, the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance posted an article on Facebook in support of the SkyMart. Comments in response offer insight into the local’s perspective. “Oh, are there businesses on the second level?” asked a commenter. “Yes! Downtown Crossroads Association’s office is on the skywalk,” responded another. “One?” the original commenter replied. There was no response. This seems to be the wide sweeping problem in all cities with elevated skywalks. Instead of bustling hubs of commerce and safe, weather-protected passageways through cities, they are deserted, confusing, and/or dangerous. Similar issues arise in tunnel systems built in cities like Dallas and Houston. "It was the worst urban planning decision that Dallas has ever made. They thought it was hip and groovy to create an underground community, but it was a death knell," Dallas Mayor Laura Miller told The New York Times in 2005. It’s a little unclear to us why this seems to be the case over and over again. Successful skywalks exist in Hong Kong, Copenhagen recently installed a popular bike skyway, and Mumbai is currently building out its skywalk system that, while controversial, is actively being used. Population density of American cities versus Asian or European cities or simple human preferences of habit could contribute to their failure. Let AN know: Why do you think skywalks have been unsuccessful? Alternatively, if you know of a successful skywalk, tell us about it in the comments below.