19 October 2007

The New SCPA Site and Washington Park

This is a somewhat convoluted post that I have been messing with for a couple weeks, but I thought I should post it after reading a summary of the OTR Foundation's concerns aobut CPS's plans around Washington Park on the Building Cincinnati Website. I agree with their concerns. I have attended meetings and read all I could about Washington Park, the new SCPA, and the proposed Music Hall Parking Garage, but never once was it mentioned that the north end of the park would be turned into a temporary gravel parking lot. Temporary in this context may mean 3-5 years.

First of all, I don't quite get placing a staging area for a construction site, one block away from the construction. It seems that there is plenty of room for that on the block of construction. Secondly, funding is not in place for the Music Hall Parking Garage. If the garage doesn't get built, does the parking lot stay indefinitely? Seems likely.

The southeast corner of Elm and 12th. Soon (?) to be demolished for the outdoor ampitheater for the new SCPA. Not too many people are rooting for these buildings, but shouldn't what is built new be even better than what is removed? Will an ampitheater work at this corner?

The significance of rowhouses, is the "urban fabric" they create when they fill a block. The rest of this block is already vacant and is now a big foundation hole.

I have only seen drawings of the south side of the new SCPA. This is such a very important site, connecting Music Hall, Washington Park and OTR to downtown. The building will face four streets, and two (Central Parkway and Washington Park/12th)are very significant. Because of budget concerns and State School requirements the important urban design issues may be lost.

I recenty read the July 31, 2006 minutes of the Historic Conservation Board, wherein the demolition of these buildings was discussed. It was illuminating to read how critical the Board Members were of the SCPA design. They all share my concern that the building turns it's back to Washington Park. They did not approve the design and voted to form a committee that would work with the architects to resolve their concerns.

The Historic Conservation Board quit posting their minutes online in 2006. How hard can it be to post a document to a website? Has the Historic Conservation Board Approved the demolition of the above buildings? I don't think so. Have they even given approval for the construction of SCPA, with it's back facing the park? I guess, they have, but after reading the minutes above, it is hard to see what could have been done (short of a complete redesign, which we know was not done) to win their approval.


Radarman said...

Be scared of the SCPA architects. Be very scared. They are from the Indianapolis firm that did the very undistinguished Hays Elementary on Cutter Street, and they were picked for political rather than aesthetic reasons.

Perhaps 3CDC will weigh in on that ridiculous Washington Park/ing issue. They are, after all, investing a fortune in the area.

Anonymous said...

OMG - I can't believe the architects that designed the Hays Elementary are even allowed to practice. Has anyone witnessed that atrocity they created? It might be fine if they designed it in the 1970s...and what's up with the lack of windows?

I am very interested in how they 'secured' the SCPA project. Got any more dirt? With whom on the school board, et al, are they connected?

And oh yeah, as for the parking lot plan for the Washington Park School site - 3CDC has been involved in that since the idea was hatched.

Dearest lord - please let the new SCPA be spared from horrible architecture!

CityKin said...

If you look at the Historic Conservation Board Minutes, it is stated that Cole + Russell are the local architects in partnership with Moody Nolan, the Indianapolis firm that is soley responsible for Hays. Cole Russell has several flops around town, especially those new townhouses on Jefferson Avenue, across from UC. But they are local, and hopefully have some hometown pride in producing a good building.

I am concerned that everyone that has seen the plans dislike them. And the south facade, which is the one show to the public leaves a lot to be desired IMO.