Cincinnati Shuffle: Subhierarchies in the Stagnant Grid
Master of Architecture thesis
This thesis investigates the use of an operational formal architectural strategy to reinvigorate instances of failing city fabric. By introducing hierarchy and nodal destination elements into the urban grid, the existing field is transformed into a network of catalytic centers. Frame is employed as a permeable mediator between the existing grid and insertion, creating a permeable superblock that is both contextual and stimulating. The Over-the-Rhine district in Cincinnati, Ohio, is one of these failing city fabrics. Directly adjacent to downtown, this once vibrant neighborhood has experienced massive depopulation and deterioration. It’s population has dropped from 45,000 to less than 5,000. Currently, 66% of the buildings in the area are vacant or have been demolished. Over-The-Rhine lies between downtown and the University of Cincinnati. There is potential in creating a growth corridor between these two poles through Over-The-Rhine, stimulating the stagnant grid. A nodal infrastructural transit corridor is inserted between Downtown and the University of Cincinnati. Stops along the corridor act as point insertions in the fabric, forming nodal hierarchy. Incision activates the existing context through connection, deploying both a top down and bottom up approach. It creates a large centralized entity framed by and connected to context. It creates a range of scales, allowing for programmatic variety, an urban characteristic that the enclave lacks. It is strategic in working with the fabric, mediating flows and taking advantage of the porous grid condition. Each incision, in order to successfully attract from both downtown and the university, contains programmatic elements from each pole. This integration creates a complex interaction of program, as well as new partnerships between Downtown and University entities. It is a new approach for both Downtown and the University to address the failing fabric between.