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Designing The Scioto Peninsula in Columbus, Ohio

MKSK MKSK Designing The Scioto Peninsula in Columbus, OhioAs park designer for Dorrian Green, MKSK integrated sustainable design solutions and thoughtful placement of active and passive spaces. All photos provided by MKSK.
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The Scioto Peninsula has seen significant transformation in recent years in partnership with the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC), with investment in and development of a ‘cultural district’ of knitted facilities and new greenspaces and is on track for construction of the first phase of mixed-use development to provide a unique live-work-play neighborhood experience.

Dorrian Green park in Columbus, Ohio. MKSK served as park designer.
Dorrian Green park in Columbus, Ohio. MKSK served as park designer.

Implementation of the transformation began in 2017 with the opening of Dorrian Green and the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery at COSI in which MKSK was engaged as the landscape architect with Corna Kokosing Construction as the Design-Build contractor for the park development and as environmental graphic designer for the exterior signage and interior environmental graphics for the new exhibit at COSI.

The opening of the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum followed in 2018, weaving together a world-class cultural destinations and open space for downtown Columbus residents and visitors to enjoy. MKSK since has worked with the CDDC to develop the conceptual urban framework plan for a new mixed use private development and with EMH&T for the design of the public and private streetscapes within phase one of The Peninsula development.

As park designer for Dorrian Green, MKSK integrated sustainable design solutions and thoughtful placement of active and passive spaces. Design solutions began with the replacement of the surface parking to an underground structure with proper vertical circulation and ventilation.

In addition to dedicated play areas for children and adults, Dorrian Green features a number of garden spaces including a Sensory Garden, Reading Garden, Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, and Prairie Garden, all consisting of plants native to central Ohio.
In addition to dedicated play areas for children and adults, Dorrian Green features a number of garden spaces including a Sensory Garden, Reading Garden, Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, and Prairie Garden, all consisting of plants native to central Ohio.

Significant groundwater issues resulted in a creative, sustainable construction model developed by MKSK, allowing for continued subsurface groundwater flows, energy efficient dewatering practices, and financial efficiency allowing for increased park investment. Creation of a Central Plaza to COSI and acknowledgement of the symmetry of the Peninsula were strong design layout influences.

Pathway configurations accommodate connections to and from surrounding facilities, destinations, and pedestrian crossings to better link the park to the National Veterans Memorial and Museum to the north, COSI and the American Museum of Natural History to the east, and The Peninsula future mixed-use development to the west.

In addition to dedicated play areas for children and adults, the park features a number of garden spaces including a Sensory Garden, Reading Garden, Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, and Prairie Garden, all consisting of plants native to central Ohio. Accommodation of stormwater is managed for water quality and quantity within the tapestry of garden spaces.

The Fountain Plaza is anchored by an interactive fountain and flanked by two open-air pavilions and flowering cherry tree groves. The Central Plaza contains tree-covered dining bosques, garage entry and elevator to the below ground parking garage, and open shelters and bench swings that frame the view to the plaza fountain and formal entry to COSI.

Dorrian Green park in Columbus, Ohio. MKSK served as park designer.
Dorrian Green park in Columbus, Ohio. MKSK served as park designer.

Dorrian Green Park

Following the construction of this signature park that completes the downtown riverfront greenway system, the land to the west of Dorrian Green Park became the focus of development. MKSK worked with CDDC to develop a conceptual urban design plan that is guiding the development teams for the first phase of redevelopment of six acres of land adjacent to the park.

MKSK, working with CDDC, EMH&T, and private developers Daimler, Flaherty & Collins and Rockbridge, created the “street character” for both public and private streets within the development framework.

Working with EMH&T, MKSK is providing the design for the public and privately owned streets including a pedestrian-oriented alley through the core of the development, High Water Alley, as well as sidewalks, mid-block and corner plazas, and crosswalks (including integration of a shared use path on the east side of Belle Street connecting with the existing Dorrian Green/COSI entrance plaza). 

Streets in the Scioto Peninsula Columbus development.
Streets in the Scioto Peninsula development.
Streets in the Scioto Peninsula development in Columbus
Streets in the Scioto Peninsula development.

Private development streets

Phase one build out of The Scioto Peninsula in Columbus is nearing completion and will include a mix of approximately 240,000 square feet of modern office spaces, a premier hotel, and apartment style residential living, in a walkable, bikeable community with easy access to the regional bike trails and riverfront greenway system. For the latest information on The Peninsula development, visit the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation website at columbusddc.com/scioto-peninsula.

MKSK is the landscape architectural designer for the outdoor spaces that were featured on the 2021 Urban Living Tour, including the third-floor courtyard and pool deck with dog park at The Nicholas and exterior spaces for the Apartments at the Yard featuring Brooks Building & Yard Club amenities. These features were included in the Urban Living Tour booklets and are being featured on Columbus Underground. For more information, visit mkskstudios.com.

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