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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Read More
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.
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.
What’s the cliché? You can dress up a pig but it’s still a pig? I can’t remember. Some terrible former governor, who will not be named, used the line a lot. Anyway! The Great American Tower, the newest addition to Cincinnati’s skyline, was recently topped off with a giant tiara inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales. The glitzy tower could be the ugliest building in the Midwest. It’s a toss-up as to whether the Royal Family will add this to its rather lengthy list of regal embarrassments—oh Fergie!—or delight in the ghastly tribute. After all, the tower will be the tallest in the city, surpassing the Carew Tower, which reigned supreme since 1930 with its beautiful art deco interiors. The tiara’s (and building’s) design cred go to Gyo Obata, the “O” of HOK. Eavesdrop wonders why Gyo did not look to local royalty, like former mayor Jerry Springer. A skyscraper inspired by guests throwing chairs at one another could be interesting! Read More