Posts tagged with "Cincinnati":

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Cincinnati Opens Downtown Casino, But Is it Urban?

Casinos have landed in Ohio’s three largest cities, now that Cincinnati’s $400 million Horseshoe casino is open for business. Eric Douglas, a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, has an interesting post as a guest blogger for UrbanCincy on the casino’s supposedly urban character. While Horseshoe casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati have been billed as “truly urban” establishments, he writes, “casinos are not known to be particularly friendly urban creatures.” A large lawn at the building’s main entrance is the extent of the building’s civic engagement, by Douglas’ account, while the slab-like frontage on the building’s other end provides no urban connectivity whatsoever. Located downtown and not far from the booming Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Horseshoe is a worthy target for design criticism. Even if its selling point at the ballot box—where Ohio voters approved four new casinos in recent years—was revenue and not urbanism, the facility’s contribution to a city on the rebound could be more than tax dollars. The casino owners said they expect 6 million visitors a year to the 24-7 facility.
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Cincinnati Gets Ohio’s Third Platinum School

As part of an ongoing relationship with the North College Hill school district in Cincinnati, fellow Cincinnatians SFA Architects helped the district consolidate its many facilities into the space of one city block. The combined Middle-High School building, completed in 2010, last week received LEED Platinum certification, making it the third public education facility in Ohio to earn the green building ranking system’s top honor. Completed within budget, the 198,000-square foot project achieved much of its energy savings by employing efficient HVAC equipment and extensive daylighting. Solar panels on the property will produce about five percent of the facility’s energy, with real-time solar power generation data available online. Ohio’s first LEED Platinum school, the London Middle School, designed by SHP Leading Design, was certified in April. That project reduced energy use 42 percent and water usage 40 percent. It also added a 71.2-kilowatt solar array that generates about 15 percent of the school’s yearly needs. Taft Information Technology High School in Cincinnati is also LEED Platinum.
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Cincinnati is Recovering From the Swine Flu

Dear readers, Eavesdrop had the opportunity to explore Louisville, KY—our hometown—and Cincinnati, OH (a.k.a. Porkopolis) over the weekend. It’s been six or seven years since our last trip to Cincy and we have a couple things to say about it. It’s kind of a real city, like dense and old, with just enough corporate headquarters looming over the skyline. We finally got to see the HOK designed Great American Tower in real life and it’s just as bad in person as its renderings. You may remember that we thoroughly made fun of its fugly, Princess Di inspired, steel tiara—something about lipstick on a pig. Let’s update that to a more current comparison. That tiara is more Honey Boo Boo than Princess Di. Eavesdrop is not a fan of hats or tiaras on buildings—i.e. the Pappageorge Haymes-designed One Museum Park in Chicago with its sailor cap. The American Institute of Steel Construction disagrees, recently giving said tiara a design award. Cincy’s little sibling across the river, Covington, KY, has its own shiny shocker: Daniel Libeskind’s Ascent at Roebling Bridge, which is essentially a nautilus that mated with a Vegas hotel that was birthed onto the banks of the Ohio. And–just announced!–Covington is so hip that they’re turning their 102-year old City Hall into a boutique hotel. Despite a few eyesores, things in downtown Cincy are definitely looking up. The Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was shockingly vibrant in a way that should make Louisville’s NULU district extremely jealous. Louisville could use its own version of 3CDC, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, whose name adorned many banners and reconstruction projects. In Louisville there was nary a person walking the streets of East Market, NULU’s main drag. Cincy, please send some of that development juice downstream!
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Eavesdrop> Bilbao of the Midwest?

If you read this column, you know Eaves loves a party. You also know we self-deprecatingly speak of mediocre Midwestern cities (we’re from Louisville). Even with summer winding down, there’s no need to stick out that lower lip. A slew of—well, ok, three–high profile openings will tickle even the slightest art and architecture enthusiast as Cleveland, East Lansing, and Cincinnati compete for the title of Bilbao of the Midwest. First up, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, designed by Farshid Moussavi Architecture, opens on October 6. Will the Mistake-on-the-Lake become the Rust Belt Riviera? On MOCA’s heels comes the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum on November 9. OK, we don’t know anything about East Lansing other than a school’s there, but—hey!—now they have a Zaha Hadid. And finally, Cincinnati, home to America’s first Hadid, will welcome 21c Museum Hotel by Deborah Berke & Partners. Their website says it will open late 2012. Which project will be an urban game-changer? We could be swayed by opening night invites, but right now my money’s on Cincy.
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Cincinnati Close to First New Masterplan in 32 Years

Cincinnati, a city on the move, released a draft of its first master plan since 1980 in anticipation of approval by the planning commission August 30. The 222-page draft identifies five “initiative areas,” dubbed Compete, Connect, Live, Sustain, and Collaborate. Each contain tasks for growth over approximately ten years, according to the plan, although the document will receive annual budget reviews and will be officially updated every five years. Those five initiative areas encompass virtually everything that forms the fabric of urban life, from economic development to sustainable transportation. Recent efforts to expand the city’s support for arts and culture in marginal neighborhoods have been lauded by community groups. But the master planners in the Queen City have their work cut out for them. Urban voters have lost significant sway in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District over the past two decades as political gerrymandering, population loss, and the state's loss of two Dongressional districts has taken its toll. An interesting graphic from MapGrapher above shows how new district boundaries helped dilute the stock of voters living within city limits by nearly 40 percent since the 1990s. Despite progress in strengthening its urban core, a fraught suburban-urban relationship still threatens the city’s long-term prospects for growth. The master plan captures some of the city's optimism, however, which luckily is in no short supply. More information about the plan will be presented at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 801 Plum Street on August 30.
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Cleaning up an Arts District in Cincinnati

In its ongoing march to reclaim downtown neighborhoods marred by blight and suburban exodus, Cincinnati this week added Pendleton to the Neighborhood Enhancement Program. The district is known for its art center, and was a natural choice for the program now in 14 areas of the city. Like its neighbor to the west, Over-the-Rhine, Pendleton has struggled with crime. The “90-day blitz of city services” offered by NEP is designed to begin the process of long-term revitalization for the neighborhood by addressing that issue. Kennedy Heights saw a 16 percent drop in crime after it embarked on NEP earlier this year. The program will be reevaluated every 90 days, and again six months after completion. Cincinnati hopes the neighborhood’s defining characteristics will be its long-term salvation: its art and its artists. The city will add historic arts district signage along a new “boulevard of art,” drawing at first on $10,000 in seed money from a bevy of corporate and community sponsors. If the atmosphere at Wednesday’s announcement was a prologue for what’s to come, the future looks bright—Pendleton Neighborhood Council President David White’s speech was delayed slightly for a dance party to Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Streets."
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Smaller Airports Struggle with Vacant Space

The airline industry was hit hard by the recession—2011 had fewer takeoffs than any year since 2002. Airports in cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Oakland are feeling the effects of that contraction, leaving one-time regional hubs and smaller airports with vacant and underused terminals. A report on airport building reuse commissioned last year by the Transportation Research Board found enplanements were down more than 60 percent in St. Louis over the last decade. Growing interest in regional rail transit could place further pressure on smaller airports to get creative with their extra space, especially as they face costly demolition bills and shrinking revenue.
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Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine Celebrates Opening of Washington Park

Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is surging back from disrepair, becoming the poster-child for Porkopolis' return to progressive urbanism. After two years of construction, the historic neighborhood’s Washington Park reopened to the public Friday. The $48-million renovation is the latest investment by Cincinnati in its urban character—much was made of Washington Park’s likelihood to attract and sustain investment nearby. A number of amenities were added, including a children’s playground, a dog park, a fountain, an event plaza and a stage for live performances. Some historic elements of the 1855 park remain, including a replica of a Civil War-era cannon. But the thrust of the project was reinvention. Once 6 acres, Washington Park is now 8 acres and boasts a new playground as well as a 450-space subterranean parking garage. Part of the original park was a cemetery; the renovation team had to move 53 bodies still buried underneath to put in the underground parking structure. Public transport, walkability, and green space are part and parcel with an economically vibrant urban core. Along with Fountain Square and the Smale Riverfront, the reopening of Washington Park could be a milestone in the redevelopment of Cincinnati’s urban identity.
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Unveiled> SOM’s Hilltop Hospital in Cincinnati Brings Light into the Healing Process

While the myriad instruments lining hospital walls are revised constantly to promote patient wellness, the building is there to stay. So if design can help heal or comfort the afflicted, hospital architecture is critical. A Skidmore Owings & Merrill masterplan for Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital is meant to have a calming influence on both patients and staff. SOM’s 1.4-million-square-foot project broke ground Thursday, with completion expected by mid-2015. Demolition of a parking garage on the south end of the site will clear way for a new Orthopaedic and Spine Center, whose downtown-facing south side will serve as the new face for the hilltop hospital. This new front facade features a massive “lantern” window, meant to play off the original hospital’s historic cupola. At night, light emanating from the hospital assumes the form of a beacon. By day, it's designed to welcome warm natural light into the hospital.  The soothing effect of natural light on Christ Hospital’s hallways and lobbies should be enhanced by a floor plan that aims to simplify typically chaotic hospital circulation. A roof garden tops off the design, a nice touch that plays off the red brick of the existing structures around the hospital. SOM’s masterplan constructs a campus from existing buildings, new public spaces and the seven-story Orthopaedic and Spine Center. If the hospital now feels like a part of something greater, the designers appear to hope Christ Hospital’s patients will too.
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Transit Stalls and Starts in the Midwest

On Wednesday, federal transportation secretary Ray LaHood effectively killed Detroit's planned light rail line, citing doubt about the city's ability to build and maintain the project, given its dire finances and collapsing levels of density. He instead pushed for bus rapid transit along the Woodward Avenue corridor. Elsewhere, however, transit seems to be gaining traction. The much debated Cincinnati Streetcar just received nearly $11 million in federal TIGER grants, allowing construction of the Over-the-Rhine to downtown line to commence, and planners will extend the line to the riverfront development called The Banks, as well as the adjacent stadia. A vociferous opposition has fought the planned line at the ballot box and in the courts, but so far they have yet to block it. Meanwhile, in Indianapolis the Central Indiana Transit Task Force are pushing for a modest tax increase to vastly expand that city's transit system, including doubling the city's bus fleet and building a commuter rail line to Noblesville. The three tenths of one percent income tax increase would be passed through a local two-country referendum, but first the state legislature must give the go ahead to allow the local referendum. That is not an insignificant hurdle in the very conservative, Republican controlled state government, but with much of Indy's business community, including it's chamber of commerce, supporting the tax, it may stand a chance.
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Cincinnati Voters Put Streetcar on Track

Yesterday Queen City voters nixed a ballot measure that would have banned all rail funding, which would effectively have killed the Cincinnati's planned streetcar. In defeating Issue 48, voters cleared the way for construction to begin on the downtown to the Over-the-Rhine light rail line early next year. The margin was tight, only a percent and a half, but it was large enough to avoid a recount. According to UrbanCity.com, the election also solidified support for the line on the city council, with three new pro-streetcar council members elected, for a seven to two majority.
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Quick Clicks> Distorted, Glaeser, Cincy, Gowanus

Distorted. In a nod to fun-house architecture, artist Kyung Woo Han created a physically-distorted room that's made to look normal through a fish-eye camera lens. Today and Tomorrow has more photos. Cities Rule. Economist Ed Glaesar talks with Grist's Sarah Goodyear about why cities rule the fate of humanity. He has a new book out called Triumph of the City in which he calls for, among other things, rethinking policies like highway subsidies and the mortgage tax credit. Districted. Cincinnati is currently rebranding itself, and UrbanCincy suggests the city focus on an emerging core of design called the 8th Street Design District, home to 336 creative professionals including architects and designers. Superfunded. Everyone knows it's not a good idea to take a dip in the Gowanus Canal, but just how dirty is the Brooklyn waterway and Superfund site? A new EPA report lets us know and the Brooklyn Paper has the details. In short, its still going to be contaminated, even after the cleanup.