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Capitol Square Streetscape Improvements Planned for Spring 2013

Walker Evans Walker Evans Capitol Square Streetscape Improvements Planned for Spring 2013
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This winter, the sidewalks surrounding Capitol Square will undergo a transformation as new planters and signage pops up along the streets that surround the Ohio Statehouse. The project is one of several new Downtown initiatives being launched by the team at the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District.

“We’ve heard comments from Downtown property owners that they really wanted some landscaping on Capitol Square,” said Cleve Ricksecker, executive director of Capital Crossroads. ”A lot of people realize that it’s a really important space, but there’s been no attempt to do anything on the sidewalks opposite of the Statehouse that ties the square together.”

The poles anchored in the sidewalks that hold street signage will all be replaced by black posts with an emblematic design adorning the top. Approximately 70 planters planters of various heights will also be installed on the square in the same black color and design. The area targeted in this effort includes portions of High Street, Broad Street, State Street and Third Street.

Unlike the SID’s proposed facelift planned for Pearl Alley, the purpose of these streetscape improvements isn’t expressly designed to drive retail development in Downtown Columbus.

“The strategy here is one of purely beautifying Capitol Square and giving it a sense of place,” said Ricksecker. “But to that extent, if you make an elegant place, it’s probably going to attract interest from retailers.”

The Capitol Square improvements have already been approved by property owners and appropriate committees and commissions. Installation is planned to begin as soon as the weather permits in early spring 2013, with planting planned once the threat of frost has passed later in the spring.

“One of the things that separates our work from that of other organizations is that we will tend to do relatively modest projects Downtown,” added Ricksecker. “It’s these smaller scale things that create that element of surprise when you visit a city, and create a sense of fabric in a Downtown.”

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  • stephentszuter

    The planters aren’t fantastic, but I guess it’s better than no planters…I like the street signs, as well.

    Very exciting.

  • NerosNeptune

    looks nice. I’m not sure about the ominous shadow figure though.. what’s he coming at me with? garden sheers or a gun?

  • http://xingcolumbus.wordpress.com/ johnwirtz

    I think that’s a banana in his hand.

    The planters look nice. I like the cut section in the shape of the capitol. The rays coming out of it remind me of the state seal too, probably intentionally so.

  • geoyui

    it’s clear his hand was replaced with a soft serve sundae.

  • readysetdisco

    can we put traffic lights and/or walk signs on these too?

  • scbongiorno

    I am sorry, but who is designing this stuff? Really bad streetscape planters and such have been popping up in Columbus in the past year. I am all for streetscape improvement, but can the design community please be consulted???? I very rarely get on a soapbox, but this is our city . . and we want be known for design and innovation but we put stuff like this on our streets? It is embarrassing . .

  • http://www.kafantaris.com Pro Se

    Yeah I am not too impressed with the planters either but it is an improvement over what is currently there. I just wish they would do a more comprehensive streetscape upgrade of that portion of Broad. It is very disjointed in design and there is only one street lamp at the corner of Broad and High. At a minimum, they should install more street lamps on the North side of Broad as it gets incredibly dark and eerie there at night.

  • http://www.designgroup.us.com Michael Bongiorno

    Just good enough is not good enough. Period.

  • staindson7

    I think bringing a Cheesecake Factory downtown like in downtown Denver would attract people from the surrounding neighborhoods and those who live & work downtown plus attract other retailers…just saying. Maybe that is who the Downtown Commission should be courting:)

  • Pablo

    The design is by MSI

  • Urban Dansigner

    I made a few comments when I saw them a few months ago … crickets. For one they are top heavy. The planters were reviewed by the Public Art Commission and possibly the Downtown Commission.

  • heresthecasey

    They aren’t that great, but certainly aren’t terrible. There has been (in my opinion) a lot of missed opportunities for better design in some recent downtown investments. For example, Bicentennial Park, the new Franklin County Courthouse, the plans for the Columbus Commons apartments, and maybe the Audubon center most of all.

    They’re all great programmatic additions to the area, and I couldn’t be happier they’re here, but I think our desire to continually source locally from the same architecture and design firms (MSI, Moody Nolan, etc) for so many of these projects is leading to a lack of diversity, and some lackluster design in general.

  • Graybeak

    Perhaps the design of the planters is intended to bring to mind the large sculpture planned for bicentennial park. That nuclear power plant cooling tower thing.
    Along with the “Statehouse giving light to the world” logo, I am gonna echo the “meh”s.

    Looks vaguely like the Cleveland.com logo. Which I can’t post here.

  • Graybeak

    “but I think our desire to continually source locally from the same architecture and design firms (MSI, Moody Nolan, etc) for so many of these projects is leading to a lack of diversity, and some lackluster design in general.”

    Agreed. Let some of the other firms have a shot. Like Side Street Planning.


  • columbusmike

    “but I think our desire to continually source locally from the same architecture and design firms (MSI, Moody Nolan, etc) for so many of these projects is leading to a lack of diversity, and some lackluster design in general.”

    Um, have you seen the Scioto Mile?!? MSI worked on that and I would never call that lackluster. Also, note that the Edge Group (local landscape firm) worked on the Columbus Commons.

    I’m not sure about the low planters. I’m afraid these might look a little odd in winter when the plants are dead. Do they light up?

  • Urban Dansigner

    I disagree about sourcing locally … we have great talent that is under utilized. The question that should be asked are they being challenged to produce great design – do they have the freedom to explore good design ideas – do they have the budget to do it right?

    BTW – heresthecasey – two of the examples you gave were designed by out of town firms, though had local architects of record, and the third locally designed building happens to be great for its setting.

  • http://www.handcrafteddelights.com Anne

    I think whoever landscapes the low planters along the west side of High Street from Broad to Rich does a great job throughout the seasons. I don’t think these new low ones will turn into ash trays.

  • http://www.columbusunderground.com Walker

    There is no design that could be produced by any design firm that would be universally beloved by everyone. While there are some qualities that are generally accepted as defining what is “good” and what is “bad” design, a lot of it still remains subjective. You like something because you personally like it, or you dislike something because you personally dislike it.

    Personally, I can understand the issue some have said with the planter design looking “top heavy” though I also like that the thinner frame of the tall planters allowing for some transparant at eye-level and leaving some views unobstructed between the sidewalk and the street. If you had something too thick at the base, you’d get a “wall effect” when looking down the block at the planters and I think it would come across as too heavy.

    That’s just my personal opinion though. I’m glad to see some effort going into giving a little facelift to these streets, especially on Broad Street, which is looking a little worse for wear these days in certain areas.

  • heresthecasey

    @Urban Dansigner and ColumbusMike,

    I agree that there is a large amount of untapped talent locally, who should be brought into the mix. I also recognize that my aesthetic judgements are merely that, just an opinion, and that everyone likes what they like. To each their own.

    But, I think everyone would benefit from a little more active diversity in our urban design. It may be a matter of convenience/expedience to have the same firm do multiple projects, time and again, in very close proximity to one another, but I think on some level it does the city a disservice to continue to choose to do so, as far as it amounts to a missed opportunity for something new.

    Like I said though, I am happy to see these going in, any improvement to the streetscape is better than the present condition, and these don’t actually look half bad.

  • http://www.designgroup.us.com Michael Bongiorno

    Off topic question: Why do so many people that lurk and comment in the comment section, and have the strongest opnions, always use aliases and avatars? Is there an interwebs anthropologist out there that can answer this question? I have my own thoughts, but I’m no expert.

  • columbusmike

    “But, I think everyone would benefit from a little more active diversity in our urban design. It may be a matter of convenience/expedience to have the same firm do multiple projects…”

    There are a variety of great design firms in Columbus. I think we are very lucky to have so many quality firms in our area. Not to mention, even if the same firm gets the project, that’s not to say the project team is the same, nor the client.

    These planters are very traditional, as was the design of the Columbus Commons. The Scioto Mile has a more contemporary flare. There is more variety than we think sometimes. But I agree with you, we consistently need to be critical of design in our city – and strive for better design in every way possible.

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