Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Columbus Freeway Deck

You don't often hear the words "Columbus" and something, anything "nice" syntactically juxtaposed.  I kid, Columbus.  However, I was previously unaware they had decked a freeway with Ponte Vecchio-style bridge.  Here it is in street view:

Quite a difference that makes (provided the context is right), perceptively, physically, and economically, linking downtown to the University's town and gown street.  While it's entirely possible the numbers didn't work here (I'm not sure) or that they won't work elsewhere within the context of just the on-site development, the value is likely captured within the immediate surroundings.  In other words, it isn't worth immediately dismissing if it doesn't pencil on site because of the profound beneficent effects from a simple restitching.

With that said, Columbus still has a plethora of intra-city freeways worthy of full-scale re-imagining as something other than a freeway (which will most certainly pencil quite profitably).  Here is the view of the closest other freeway crossing to compare and get some sense for the bleeding, corrosive nature of the disconnect:

I always felt this should have been done at both ends of the Klyde Warren Deck Park to shield the view (and noise) of the Leviathan of highways rising out from the ground.
I decided to get to know the context of the afforementioned bridge to see what Columbus was connecting as well as dig up this 1999 article describing the impetus and city council vote in favor of building the bridge to provide even more context.

Unfortunately, while the North side appears to be a fairly vibrant, walkable neighborhood center, as the article describes, they wanted to connect with their convention district to the south (the north side of downtown).  Which immediately threw up red flags.  

Speaking of red flags, hey look!  It's a Peter Eisenmann monstrosity:

As you can see in the aerial below, the fabric is well and good torn asunder.  Not the least of which by the convention center itself...

...which, one can only hope that Eisenmann designed with an ironic nod to the vacant surrounding buildings.  It really does look as if the symbolic theme was boarded up warehouse...

Immediately across the street a few nice buildings seem to be limping along.  It doesn't look like there is much life in the upper floors, though it's hard to tell.  A shame really, but the seeds of failure are planted within the surroundings.

Here's an aerial of the North side of 670, which you can make out off in the horizon in the very first picture of this post.