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Cincinnati: Downtown: Fort Washington Way Cap Project

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With The Banks under way, you can bet that we are going to start hearing more about this as construction moves forward.

 

 

Report proposes building atop Fort Washington Way

BY JESSICA BROWN | JLBROWN@ENQUIRER.COM

 

Windmills on the riverfront?  An aerial tram from downtown to Newport?  The ideas might not be so far-fetched.  They were among many suggestions voiced by a group of Greater Cincinnati residents when asked what should be built on proposed decks above Fort Washington Way, an underground expressway along the Ohio River.  A report with the ideas will be presented to the Cincinnati Planning Commission with the goal of being included in the city's master plan for the riverfront.   

 

"(The decks are) the size of three Fountain Squares in a critical part of downtown," said Paul Muller, of Paul Muller Architects and a member of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  "We have a vibrant riverfront and a vibrant downtown. This is a very important link."         

 

AIA hosted a day-long session last August called "Greening the Gap," in which it invited the public to share proposals for the space.  The final report was presented Monday to Hamilton County Commissioners.  Among the suggestions: a water feature, bike path, veterans' park, greenhouse, an aerial tram, and mixed commercial and residential buildings. Any buildings would be limited to four or five stories.

 

Full article at http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080408/NEWS01/804080332/1056/COL02

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Fantastic. I'm happy to see that capping the freeway hasn't been completely ignored.

 

Covering the top with a better use (whether it be mid-rises, parks, or a combination) is, quite frankly, almost as important in the long run as the banks itself.

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That is the first I have ever heard of a Tram.   

I love the idea, but how viable would that be at this locale?

IMO, something like a Tram would be better serving Price Hill or Mt Adams.  One going to NKY would work too, but I don't know that I like it starting where these caps would be.   

The green space sounds great, but I would prefer the 5-6 story buildings go over a couple of the segments.   

 

MORE DENSITY!!     Not to take anything away from the proposed green space (It would look cool!), but the new Central Riverfront Park should satisfy our green space needs.   I would rather see them cover up any sign of FWW even existing under the caps.   

 

Either way, we would get a truly reconnected riverfront AGAIN after 60+ years of separation.    We can't go wrong here at all.

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That is the first I have ever heard of a Tram.   

I love the idea, but how viable would that be at this locale?

IMO, something like a Tram would be better serving Price Hill or Mt Adams.

 

Agreed.  I personally think that a tram to Newport would be a waste, since it would only go to the levee.  Crossing the river would be done much better by streetcars, which could connect the residents of Newport, Bellevue, and Covington with downtown as well, instead of just connecting downtown residents with NOTL.  However, a tram to Mt. Adams... now you're talking.  It's a fun area that is too steep to via streetcar, and there's no space to rebuild the incline because of 471.  A tram over 471 to Mt. Adams would be great.

 

MORE DENSITY!!     Not to take anything away from the proposed green space (It would look cool!), but the new Central Riverfront Park should satisfy our green space needs.   I would rather see them cover up any sign of FWW even existing under the caps.   

 

Yep.  I was shocked that we could actually put 5 story building on those caps.  If that's the case, by all means build on them.  If they can't be built on, it might be nice to have special parks there.  Maybe a japanese garden or permanent floral carpets like they are assembling on fountain square.  It would certainly look nice in aerial photos, if nothing else.

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I'll have to give it some more thought but the idea of 5 - 6 story buildings is intriguing considering that I didn't think they'd be able to support any significant structures. A built environment would also serve as the missing link to The Banks and Riverfront Park. I'm thinking retail topped by apartments (something 'affordable' to the person of average income).

 

I'm not going to say that a greenspace would be a bad idea, because urban greenspace is always a good thing in general, but I just don't think this is the right location for it since Riverfront Park will be only a couple of blocks away. I would also shy away from any sort of public gathering spot (art sculptures, plazas, etc.) because since the area is larger it may detract from the progress made at Fountain Square. The tram to Newport would be too expensive and the philosophy behind this idea would be better served, as mentioned, by the streetcar.

 

Yep! Good post!

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In places where people have been exposed to similar levels of traffic for a long time, cancer and other disease rates are much higher. NYC tried this and the cancer rates are much higher in the housing that is that close to highway. I think a tram to Mt. Adams would be great and any use that connects the banks to downtown would also be great but I worry about building anything that puts people in close proximity to carcinogens over an extended period of time. A seasonal shopping district would be great with semi-permanent shops might also work.

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In places where people have been exposed to similar levels of traffic for a long time, cancer and other disease rates are much higher.

 

But then NOT capping the highway would actually be putting people in closer proximity to auto fumes than if buildings were built on top. If the highway is not capped, fumes just diffuse into the neighborhood. If the highway is capped, vents can direct the fumes elsewhere. I think this is what they did in Boston when they burried their freeway.

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Dumb question, but can anyone explain to me what the 'caps' and 'decks' are that I have heard so much about?  I'm ashamed to admit it, but I can't quite visualize what we are talking about here.

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^ Sure.  If you're familiar with Fort Washington Way, there are 5 bridges that span it (Elm, Race, Vine, Walnut, and Main).  Between those bridges right now is just empty space, but when Fort Washington Way was designed, they thought ahead and planned for the possibility of covering the whole thing.  So FWW would essentially become a tunnel, and from above, the 5 existing bridges would appear to be just normal streets.  The area between 2nd, 3rd, and each pair of bridges is being referred to as a "cap", which would basically give Cincinnati 4 new square blocks in downtown to turn into parks or expand into with more buildings.  They're actually about half a square block each, so it's really 2 square blocks in 4 pieces, if you want to get technical about it.

 

 

By the way, until recently, I had zero appreciation for how much forethought went into FWW.  Between these caps, having some of the bridges reinforced so that they can handle streetcars, and the construction of the transit center (which may turn out to be a bust), I'm very, very impressed that they thought so far into the future for what the city might need, instead of merely addressing what was important 10-15 years ago.

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I say do a park initially and then wait until the market catches up after The Banks.  From there allow the two end caps to be built on as demand warrants.

 

Oh, I have the perfect idea!  How about we use them for surface lots?!? :evil:

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there is a capped highway next to my apartment here in munich. on top is a park, though it's a more "modern" park with bike paths and walkways scattered throughout (not as many trees and shrubs and stuff as other parks here). there are tons of parks i could go to around here but for some reason i really like this one. perhaps because i know what's underneath and know what COULD be there instead...but there are also a few restaurants and such throughout and, the best part, i don't hear the highway at ALL.

 

I say do a park initially and then wait until the market catches up after The Banks.  From there allow the two end caps to be built on as demand warrants.

 

totally agree with this. it would be nice to see some development there but i also like the idea of green space between the two end caps. who knows - perhaps they could do open air markets or something every so often. my aunt usually participates in art things in hyde park...it would be cool to see this downtown and a place like that would be a good place (along with fountain square of course).

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I say do a park initially and then wait until the market catches up after The Banks.  From there allow the two end caps to be built on as demand warrants.

 

Agreed! But I hope by the time they're actually going to be able to build anything the demand has already been created by all the activity with the Banks and streetcars. As long as Scripps and W&S keep their sight lines everyone should be happy.

 

I remember about 5 or 6 years ago a lady who makes cutesy animal sculptures at a studio in the Short North told me that Columbus had been impressed with the idea of Cincinnati capping their highway and so that's what they were going to do. Sure enough theres a strip of retail along High Street that spans 670. We should stop letting them take our good ideas. cough*streetcar*cough

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We should stop letting them take our good ideas. cough*streetcar*cough

 

Hey, they're welcome to those ideas.  We just need to make sure that WE take our good ideas as well.

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We should stop letting them take our good ideas. cough*streetcar*cough

 

Hey, they're welcome to those ideas.  We just need to make sure that WE take our good ideas as well.

 

True, true... but if those bastards from Cleveland think they can steal our ideas....

 

 

I kid.

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It's an "obscure" part of New York City, but these giant apartment towers were built over the I-95 trench in Harlem:

 

cross-bronx.png

 

transmanhattan.jpg

 

amsterdamavene.jpg

 

 

The I-670 cap in Columbus is a tad Las Vegas-ish but is nevertheless effective without breaking the bank.  It illustrates that the entire gaps don't need to be capped and I think that could work over Ft. Washington Way.  Or, god forbid, we could allow the caps to be done one at a time instead of as part of one monolithic program.

columbus_cap.jpg

 

 

 

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Let's not forget that part of Fort Washington Way has already been capped with a park on top.

 

Lytle Park  :-)

 

I think permanent park space would be great through there.  All those dogs moving in downtown will need the space.

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In places where people have been exposed to similar levels of traffic for a long time, cancer and other disease rates are much higher. NYC tried this and the cancer rates are much higher in the housing that is that close to highway. I think a tram to Mt. Adams would be great and any use that connects the banks to downtown would also be great but I worry about building anything that puts people in close proximity to carcinogens over an extended period of time. A seasonal shopping district would be great with semi-permanent shops might also work.

 

 

Interesting pickup.    Never thought of that.    It would be worth doing some research on to ensure the public health of those inhabiting the space whether it be park or structures.

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The buildings on Columbus' cap project look like 1 giant Cheesecake Factory.  Other than that pompous design approach it is very well done...but certainly a different kind of capping project altogether.  The site in Columbus is entirely different from the FWW site in Cincy.

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It wasn't pompous.  It's design harked back to the Union Station design (thus the arches, the color, the lighting).  It may look "cheap" but it was great for its lightweight design as it is inpractical putting a BRICK building over an eight lane freeway supported by only several columns.


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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I think it is a Cheesecake Factory design...just my opinion though.  Additionally, brick is no longer used for structural purposes any longer...so using a brick vernier wouldn't be all that heavy.

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^The cap in Columbus is not anywhere close to the legendary Daniel Burnham.  Union Station's design was/is gorgeous...but as many modern recreations go the cap's rendition was a cheap imitation of the real thing.

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I think it is a Cheesecake Factory design...just my opinion though.  Additionally, brick is no longer used for structural purposes any longer...so using a brick vernier wouldn't be all that heavy.

 

Brick vernier would also be "cheap" and I would harken it to a PF Chang sans Demon Horse Statues.  Look, it may look like a Cheesecake Factory to you (everybody's got an opinion) but it was one of the best designs for a lightweight cap and the detail of color and architecture of the cap to match Burnham's Union Station was about as close to good as they could get.  Putting a brick vernier would be impractical as the station wasn't such.

 

08dscn0796.JPG


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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As for the apartment towers over Interstate 95 in New York City, the columns and support structures required to hold up the towers is immense. If you get a chance to drive slowly under the development (i.e. 90% of the day), you can see just what went into the design of the structure itself. It's not real advisable to go that route today, given that there are now obvious capacity constraints (cannot widen or heavily modify the highway), deterioration (the supporting columns are exposed to the wind, some ice and rain, etc.), and etc. Plus, you can't vac out all of the fumes... Then there are the now obvious terrorism concerns.

 

A good idea at the time, but it would never be built today. I would like to see park space there instead.

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"our" - I thought you were from Hamilton/Middletown area.  Or as you have put it before, "the heart of the Cincinnati-Dayton Metroplex."

 

Columbus is our state capital; it belongs to all of us.

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I swear that people look to put words in my mouth or that they simply try to skew what I actually say.  Ink I must say that you have this down to a science.

 

I personally love the Cbus cap, but think the design is not only out of place with the surround buildings, but also kind of cheap looking.  Just my opinion...beauty is always in the eye's of the beholder.

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