Ecological Placemaking in the Uptown Innovation Corridor
Successful innovation districts require more than buildings. A concrete jungle is neither visually appealing nor sustainable, pedestrian-friendly or health-conscious. That’s why master plans for the Uptown Innovation Corridor include ample green space to increase pedestrian connectivity between developments, integrate the Corridor into the surrounding community, and provide space for creative collision and recreation among tenants, residents and community members.
The Corridor is built around three design principles focused on creating a development where people want to live, work, play, collaborate and innovate: Great Streets, Great Spaces and Great Places. Ecology is a core pillar of the Great Spaces design strategy.
As a result, UCI is developing plans for an ecological corridor, a green space running the length of the Corridor consisting of pocket parks, seating decks, collaboration spaces and other gathering areas. Mid-block connections will create pedestrian visibility and access between primary streets and green space amenities to welcome the community and encourage institutional and neighborhood collaboration.
When implemented, the ecological corridor will help transform the Corridor into a holistic built environment that fosters innovation and attracts top talent and businesses. Including collaboration spaces, public art and walking and bike trails will provide the types of amenities many residents and businesses desire.
UCI is working with project developers to integrate green spaces in designs for the Uptown Gateway development and the node development, at the southeast quadrant and northeast quadrant of the Martin Luther King Dr. and Reading Rd. intersection, respectively. Both development groups are working to integrate elements of the ecological corridor into their plans, which is critical for increasing connectivity within the Corridor and into the community.
This green space will develop in concert with the rhythm of natural ecology, promoting biodiversity and ecological health, as well as human comfort and wellness. Preserved, existing trees will provide landscape character and shade for outdoor activities. Native plants will serve as a learning opportunity as well as a frame for walking and cycling trails.
The ecological corridor will also serve a sustainability function through its integration into the site stormwater management plan, collecting surface run-off from roads and parcels and directing it to the natural stream corridor. Layers of new vegetation will also aid in water filtration while providing habitat for birds, butterflies, bees and other native species.
UCI hopes that the ecological corridor will help create a healthy, sustainable, and complete community in the Corridor. While construction is not yet underway, planning and placemaking efforts are continuing to help bring this critical element of the Uptown Innovation Corridor to life.
Beth Robinson is the President and CEO of the Uptown Consortium, a nonprofit community development corporation dedicated to the economic development of Uptown Cincinnati. To learn more about the Uptown Innovation Corridor, visit www.uptowncincinnati.com.
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