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Cincinnati: Downtown: Fort Washington Way Cap Project

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To be honest I didn't know those were benches. I thought they were just decorative concrete elements that got installed with the new FWW.

 

Pretty sure they once had metal benches fixed to them and that the concrete was the support.

 

transitupdate_0003.jpg

 

Wow... those sidewalks on 2nd street have been a design failure on so many levels. You can see it by looking at it over the last 10 years on streetview:

<a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@39.097816,-84.513357,3a,75y,328.66h,96.87t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sfjNvrLcrgQMu5vlJjvJD3A!2e0!5s20070701T000000!7i3328!8i1664">2007: metal benches that rust, two rows of (maple?) trees, brick pavers</a>

<a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@39.0977576,-84.5133862,3a,75y,349.07h,98.22t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sQenJVu3JOIlTB10yeXuVPw!2e0!5s20111001T000000!7i13312!8i6656">2011: trees removed, metal benches removed, concrete pedestals remain</a>

<a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@39.0977609,-84.5134569,3a,75y,348.79h,90.82t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1skzNrhAd9pvnEu8rTD_KZsA!2e0!5s20161001T000000!7i13312!8i6656">2016: Replace pavers with cement, remove concrete pedestals, tear down trees, plant 1 row of new trees (cypress) on side closer to highway</a>

 

The rest of the Fort Washington Way project seems like it was well designed and managed, so I'm not sure why this aspect was overlooked/shortchanged. The 3rd street side has also been a mismanaged mess, but at least they've been able to let two rows of trees grow to maturity on 3rd Street.

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The Urban Land Institute has a competition every year called the Hines Student Competition. Graduate student teams made up of urban planning, architecture, engineering, etc programs across the country work to solve an urban planning problem.

 

The 2019 competition was to connect the Cincinnati riverfront with the Central Business District by capping Fort Washington Way! There are four teams that were named finalists: one from MIT, two from UT at Austin, and another from.... The University of Cincinnati!

 

You can look at all of the finalists' proposals here. A winner will be announced in April.

 

To be clear, there is no money attached to implementing the winning proposal, but it is a cool competition.

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I have no idea what I'm looking at with any of those. 

 

It's times like these when I remember a conversation I had when I was 19 who got a summer job at an architecture office but who had no interest in architecture: "if you get hired to design a high school football stadium, draw them a dome". 

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Not sure what you're having trouble seeing. There's nothing in any of those that's overly challenging to understand. Maybe you just aren't the type of person who would ever be viewing a design competition submission?

 

They're interesting, but all of them rely in part on demolishing something that has already been developed. Which is a shame. I get why they made those moves in each, but still, it would have been stronger to use real world scenarios.

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One thing that most of these proposals have is a lagoon/pool area down by the riverfront. I think getting a lagoon or the originally designed boat dock would be crucial to finishing the already great riverfront park. 

 

One thing I like as a thought moving forward is from MIT's submission. They show the caps mostly as buildings, but with a park space that runs North/South adjacent to the Freedom Center. I think if you place the caps with a park running East/West it will still keep the banks and downtown just as divided as they are now, but if you aligned the park space North/South as shown by MIT it would connect through the banks to downtown instead of separating the two. I think it would make sense to place it on the Vine street side, not Walnut as they show, since their plan would require demolishing Yard House. Also Vine street is a more prominent street for Cincinnati, and the park could terminate at the carousel. 

 

image.thumb.png.bf14e5f1010827179046a19e9b5669ec.png

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What I appreciate about the MIT/Harvard and the UT Austin proposal is creating a "Museum Campus" around the Freedom Center. I think that is a strong move to make the Freedom Center a civic node for The Banks neighborhood and I think that is most effectively accomplished by transforming the cap block north of Freedom Center to park or plaza and all others would be built up. 

 

I also continue to push, whenever I get a chance, the idea that the caps are built to carry a 4-story building, but that building doesn't have to be limited to 4 stories. The 4-story building limit is a weight calculation, not a height calculation. So, by building a building on stilts with plaza beneath or out of incredibly lightweight construction, you could potentially go higher. 

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The one issue I have with building densely on the caps is that we still have a lot of build-able land in Downtown Cincinnati that should be filled before we start adding even more space

 

The Banks still has a lot of square footage to fill up, and there are plenty of surface lots and underutilized buildings that need to be renovated before we should be adding even more new construction. The more we create land to build more residential/commercial, the slower the rest of the CBD will redevelop. 

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Pretty dumb question here that I have always had concerning the Fort Washington Way Cap; what is the exact weight limit?  Can these potential highway caps hold a large building, like a museum?  If I look at the potential highway caps, Freedom Center, and the Banks, I always wonder if the Freedom Center (which is not 1 large building, but 3 smaller buildings connected by elevated walkways) could be removed from their foundations, and moved 1 block north to a cap over Fort Washington Way?  It would open up a large prime plot of land at the Banks, give an anchor building to have on the highway caps, and would seem to help bridge (pun intended) the gap between the CBD and the Banks.

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I think if the caps get built, we need to have buildings on the West side of Race and East side of Walnut to completely hide the view of the expressway from the new caps. If the two blocks between Race and Walnut were open space with two bookend buildings on either end that would be a good mixture of both, because I think you make a good point about not wanting to hurt development in the rest of CBD.

 

The bookends don't even need to (or can't for fresh-air to the would be tunnel below) be full block, but just deep enough to have an anchor restaurant/retail below and a couple floors of office/residential above. I'm picturing a 3-4 story building with a similar footprint to the High Street overpass on 670 in Columbus on either end of the parks. The middle space can remain open and be labeled as 'festival grounds' to give a more permanent home to taste of Cincinnati and Oktoberfest. 

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3 minutes ago, cincymonkey said:

Pretty dumb question here that I have always had concerning the Fort Washington Way Cap; what is the exact weight limit?  Can these potential highway caps hold a large building, like a museum?  If I look at the potential highway caps, Freedom Center, and the Banks, I always wonder if the Freedom Center (which is not 1 large building, but 3 smaller buildings connected by elevated walkways) could be removed from their foundations, and moved 1 block north to a cap over Fort Washington Way?  It would open up a large prime plot of land at the Banks, give an anchor building to have on the highway caps, and would seem to help bridge (pun intended) the gap between the CBD and the Banks.

 

The Freedom Center got the land it has because the organization had formed and was looking for a site just as plans for the riverfront were formulating.  So they got the best piece of land in the Banks development.  I have no idea why they decided to build that building the way they did, as three separate buildings. 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, ryanlammi said:

The one issue I have with building densely on the caps is that we still have a lot of build-able land in Downtown Cincinnati that should be filled before we start adding even more space

 

The Banks still has a lot of square footage to fill up, and there are plenty of surface lots and underutilized buildings that need to be renovated before we should be adding even more new construction. The more we create land to build more residential/commercial, the slower the rest of the CBD will redevelop.  

One might argue that air gaps over a highway have a greater deadening effect than surface parking lots.

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2 minutes ago, Robuu said:

One might argue that air gaps over a highway have a greater deadening effect than surface parking lots.

 

I never said we should not cap the highway. Just suggesting we shouldn't be proposing massive developments on top of the caps until demand is there.

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Someone on here I'm sure knows exactly but I remember reading that these caps could only support buildings that are 4-6 floors.  So it wouldn't be massive developments on these blocks.  Not to mention these would be city or county owned land I assume.  It's a lot harder to get private owners of parking lots to give up that revenue stream for development.  The city has already been slowly selling off or giving up some of the land they own downtown for development in recent years. 

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The city could also change the tax structure so they are charged a higher per month / per day rate or a higher property tax rate to encourage redevelopment.

 

We're already seeing some parking lots being redeveloped. The Pendleton site, Kroger site, small lot at Race/Garfield (I think this is going forward, right?), Cincinnati Public Radio just north of City Hall.

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Development at the Banks has basically come to a Halt.  I know there is all the talk about a music venue, and a proposal for phase 3.   But hard reality is that Phase 3 of the Banks has been sitting there ready for development for a couple years now, and nothing.  If we can't even get something built on phase 3, which is "shovel ready", I don't see us ever getting these caps built and something developed on them.   There obviously isn't enough demand for that right now.

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2 minutes ago, ryanlammi said:

The city could also change the tax structure so they are charged a higher per month / per day rate or a higher property tax rate to encourage redevelopment.

 

We're already seeing some parking lots being redeveloped. The Pendleton site, Kroger site, small lot at Race/Garfield (I think this is going forward, right?), Cincinnati PUblic Radio just north of City Hall.

Race and Garfield is on indefinite hold. One of the many stalled projects that did Glaserworks in this past year. 

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24 minutes ago, ryanlammi said:

The city could also change the tax structure so they are charged a higher per month / per day rate or a higher property tax rate to encourage redevelopment.

 

We're already seeing some parking lots being redeveloped. The Pendleton site, Kroger site, small lot at Race/Garfield (I think this is going forward, right?), Cincinnati Public Radio just north of City Hall.

 

 

If the goal is simply to cap the interstate, putting small institutions on caps like Cincinnati Public Radio would be one way to do it. 

 

Large buildings such as 100-unit apartment buildings are unrealistic given the lack of parking and the inability to economically build parking garages on the caps. 

 

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5 hours ago, ucgrady said:

One thing that most of these proposals have is a lagoon/pool area down by the riverfront. I think getting a lagoon or the originally designed boat dock would be crucial to finishing the already great riverfront park. 

 

One thing I like as a thought moving forward is from MIT's submission. They show the caps mostly as buildings, but with a park space that runs North/South adjacent to the Freedom Center. I think if you place the caps with a park running East/West it will still keep the banks and downtown just as divided as they are now, but if you aligned the park space North/South as shown by MIT it would connect through the banks to downtown instead of separating the two. I think it would make sense to place it on the Vine street side, not Walnut as they show, since their plan would require demolishing Yard House. Also Vine street is a more prominent street for Cincinnati, and the park could terminate at the carousel. 

 

image.thumb.png.bf14e5f1010827179046a19e9b5669ec.png

 

Keep in mind that this proposal could not be built without major infrastructure work. The supports that were installed when FWW was built will only support buildings on the two full blocks between Race and Walnut, plus 1/2 block west of Race and 1/2 block west of Walnut. Some of the other proposals reflected this. Also, if I recall correctly, the caps would only be able to front Second and Third street, and there would have to be gaps between the caps and the Race/Vine/Walnut overpasses. This is to prevent it from being classified as a tunnel, which would require expensive ventilation to be installed.

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Also, there must be physical gaps between the overpasses and the caps or else the whole thing qualifies as a "tunnel". 

 

These grad students mowed over pesky details like a Musk or a Trump or a Theranos. 

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I believe the magic number is 800' long to require ventilation per NFPA 502. As much as I wish we could cover the whole thing and pay for a huge ventilation system, I think the realistic option is to cap the whole block between Vine and Walnut with a park/festival space and book-end the other sides with restaurant/office the scale of 15th and Vine (which is small enough to build on spec). If you could then re-develop the garages on either side of Great American, and build the Banks office building you would be looking at a great gathering space to complement Fountain Square to host major events. 

 

image.png.3e8ff7c0a91c7eef256cd7e0e1f466fe.png

 

 

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The piles were not driven to the edge of the overpasses.  There is a 10~ foot gap between the east edge of the Race St. overpass and where the piles were driven, then another between the piles and the west side of the Vine St. overpass.  That pattern repeated for the cap between Vine and Walnut.  Piles were driven for "half" caps to the west of the Race St. overpass and another east of the Walnut St. overpass.  The two overpasses with the fake cable-stayed towers have no piles near them. 

 

I'm not an engineer so I don't know what the actual textbook regulation is - I'm going by my recollection of news articles from that time, along with photos I took of the piles being installed. 

 

Also, rows of piles were driven on the north side of the sloping trench wall and on the south side of that same wall, between the slope and the actual flood wall, which is straight up-and-down.  I don't know why the south and north lines of piles were needed at the time, but they're there.  I'm also skeptical as to how much of a disruption was avoided by sinking the center median piles during construction of the highway.  By my recollection, it didn't take very long, maybe 2-3 weeks to install everything. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have no other comments on the length of a tunnel and the ventilation requirements except if they did cap the entire blocks between race and walnut, the distance would cover just over 1000 feet (from the exterior edges of each street). Roughly 1030 feet of tunnel according to Google maps.

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32 minutes ago, jmecklenborg said:

The piles were not driven to the edge of the overpasses.  There is a 10~ foot gap between the east edge of the Race St. overpass and where the piles were driven, then another between the piles and the west side of the Vine St. overpass.  That pattern repeated for the cap between Vine and Walnut.  Piles were driven for "half" caps to the west of the Race St. overpass and another east of the Walnut St. overpass.  The two overpasses with the fake cable-stayed towers have no piles near them. 

 

I'm not an engineer so I don't know what the actual textbook regulation is - I'm going by my recollection of news articles from that time, along with photos I took of the piles being installed. 

 

Also, rows of piles were driven on the north side of the sloping trench wall and on the south side of that same wall, between the slope and the actual flood wall, which is straight up-and-down.  I don't know why the south and north lines of piles were needed at the time, but they're there.  I'm also skeptical as to how much of a disruption was avoided by sinking the center median piles during construction of the highway.  By my recollection, it didn't take very long, maybe 2-3 weeks to install everything. 

 

 

 

 

 

OT but I want to check out Cincinnati-transit.net and it's gone. What happened?

Edited by Rabbit Hash

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1 hour ago, Rabbit Hash said:

OT but I want to check out Cincinnati-transit.net and it's gone. What happened?

 

I let it expire.  I have everything saved, though.  I'm going to do a new website after I scan all of my old slides and negatives, which is going to be a multi-week project.  All of those photos on there were scans from 4x6 prints from Walgreen's or wherever but scans from negatives will look a lot better. 

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17 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

 

I let it expire.  I have everything saved, though.  I'm going to do a new website after I scan all of my old slides and negatives, which is going to be a multi-week project.  All of those photos on there were scans from 4x6 prints from Walgreen's or wherever but scans from negatives will look a lot better. 

 

Oh wow, I was going to reference it for my cities skylines project to get subway related stuff down (though your book is generally an even better resource).

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1 hour ago, neilworms said:

 

Oh wow, I was going to reference it for my cities skylines project to get subway related stuff down (though your book is generally an even better resource).


I have a huge stack of materials that I need to take to a bulk scanner.  It's like 20" high of photocopies of news articles and other stuff.  Doing it one page at a time would take a month. 

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