This is important:
What is it?
Here it is, from street-grade:
You say big deal: a city street. Exactly. But it is a city street which is crossing a freeway. I say, yes it is a very big deal.
The American freeways changed the world through which they ran. They facilitated a vast expansion of suburbs and ripped asunder many city neighborhoods. The project (in the oval in the uppermost picture) started out, in the mind of the Ohio Highway Department as a simple widening of the I-670 as it rolls through Columbus, Ohio. But the adjoining neighborhoods put up a fight. (This is my casual from-a-distance understanding of what happened.)
The compromise proposed by some local genius was to make the new overpass (neccesitated by the wider freeway) into a city street by lining it with shops to "link rather than divide." It is under construction now.
In terms of the daily lives of potentially millions, this is architecture at its finest. This is significant, this is meaningful. This is re-building, re-forming the world. Starchitects might well pay attention. (BTW, one may or may not like the particular architectural style of the buildings --- I happen to but that's not the reason this project is so important. Look beyond the style to the larger lesson and model of reconnecting the city by discovering spaces.)
Links below for more information on this marvelous project which ought to be known by every Mayor and City Council in the nation:
(Maybe this is how Ray Kroc felt when he sat in his car outside the First McDonalds, just observing, letting it sink in, realizing that he was seeing something very big. More here at McDonald's Corporate Information McDonald's History Page 1. The scene of Ray Kroc sitting in awe in the parking lot must be one of the most dramatic scenes from American business history.)
UPDATE: Beyond Brilliance Takes Note
In Boston, I-90 is depressed as it passes through the city, including through the Fenway neighborhood, home of the ballpark. There are plans to buy the air rights from the Mass Turnpike Authority and build a highrise. There are arguments in the neighborhood about the scale of the building and other issues, many of which are probably valid. But really, could anything be worse than a 6 lane highway canyon?
Posted by: joe on August 29, 2003 09:46 PM
The Columbus project is not a typical air-rights deal; those are fairly common. The magic of The Cap it that it creates a connection between two sides of a freeway.
A high-rise --- if it had clear public right of way for both vehicle/bike/walker at its edges -- could also function that way. The issue is not so much "air rights" as "connection."
Posted by: David Sucher on August 30, 2003 01:50 AM