Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Collaborator: Joshua Brooks, Matthew Macchietto, Shiqi Peng, Alan Sage
Status: Completed in March, 2019
Award: 2019 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Hines Urban Design Competiton First Prize
Context to Concept
The Banks, as its name implies, has traditionally been considered the fringe of Cincinnati - the edge of the city, perpetually incomplete. In response, our four threads of Culture + History, Public Realm, Transportation, And New Economies reposition The Banks as the nexus of an evolving region, stitching the neighborhood into the region’s physical, social, and economic fabric. Our proposal does not start from a hypothetical blank slate and undo the past decade’s $1bn of private and public investment. Rather, our four threads permit us to intervene and integrate, respecting the complexities of building over and under existing infrastructure, not to mention within a floodplain, while forging an integrated district that pays heed to the Queen City’s longstanding culture of neighborhoods.
Stitching Together the Urban Tapestry
Each thread of the proposal weaves together a specific portion of the region’s past and future. The Culture and History Thread is a symbolic and physical Cultural Trail that stretches north into Downtown and south across the Mason-Dixon Line, reinforcing connections with Kentucky and dismantling historical divisions. The Public Realm Thread builds on existing park assets and introduces new innovative spaces that connect nodes within the city and along the river through strategic corridors. The Transportation Thread seeks to solve the region’s ‘Achilles’ Heel’ by providing key infrastructure to create the region’s first true transit-oriented development and incentivize future investments. The New Economies Thread provides a platform for economic resilience, future-proofing the regional industrial base. Together these elements create an offering that is deeply sustainable and unequivocally human-centric, representing a new model of inclusive urban living for the greater region.
Constructing an Urban Neighborhood
The urban form of the site simultaneously draws from the existing fabric while conferring an intrinsically unique element. By respecting the existing street grid and view corridors, podium heights, surrounding land uses, and anchor facilities, the proposal strengthens the position of these elements and enhances their importance. At the same time, the design of the site utilizes novel forms of architecture, public space configuration, street design, neighborhood amenities, and seasonal and daily programming to create ideal environs for both civic gatherings and everyday use. Unique interventions like a series of low-impact public spaces at Concrete Green negotiate challenging existing site conditions to achieve these goals.
Our proposal capitalizes on existing site conditions to foster a culture of full life-cycle sustainability. On the production side, energy, data, and food systems are weaved into all aspects of life at the CincyStitch. A micro-grid harnesses small scale hydroelectric power from both the Ohio River as well as underground pipes, while decentralized solar arrays generate power from roofs and south-facing facades. 5G internet is provided across the site by tapping into the City’s SmartCincy fiber loop initiative, with the addition of new small cell technology. Rooftop agriculture provides places for residents to grow their own food while a greenhouse within epicurean.on.vine utilizes heat generated from Ft. Washington Way to provide year-round produce at the market below. On the disposal side solid waste, water, and sewage are all managed on site. Gray and brown water are collected, cleaned, and stored for reuse in a series of below-grade cisterns, while a pneumatic trash and recycling system centralizes waste collection to make composting and recycling easier. These systems take advantage of the subterranean volume of the existing parking garages, which are themselves integrated into a new shared parking district.