It's probably pretty obvious by now that I love our great city and its history, which is why I hate to see deterioration and neglect (more often than not, caused by the automobile) in once-thriving spaces - especially locales with original "walking Squares" (something rare anymore in today's world)... like Mt. Lookout Square.
I've been so familiar with the area for so long - passing by almost on a daily basis - which is why it frequently bothers me. So, in an effort to contrive an outlandish solution, I took a couple minutes to overhaul the place with some pens and markers.
One can argue that Mt. Lookout is already a hoppin' spot - and I'd concur, having once lived right on the Square - but in reality, it's just a ring of businesses around heavy traffic, which encloses more traffic & parking... a Square for cars. So, just think how much more attractive it would be to remove the (roughly) 30 parking spots in the middle of the mayhem and replace it with some greenery and human beings - a central gathering point for the local inhabitants.
Well, "the board" beat me to the punch. Check out these renderings of the recently-proposed greenspace from Vivian Llambi & Associates:
This is a great treatment - streamlines the space, adds plant life, and pulls in that incredibly-important central gathering point. Still, what if there was a little more money to throw around...
Two things missing in the above renderings that I think are key: (1) It really begs for a central post - a fountain, a statue, a clock tower... something tall to define the square, the history, to mark the spot, for example...
The fountain receiving its bath before the winter shutdown.
Photo taken on 9/25/9.
...and (2) needs a way for people to access the area safely. The square is the heart of the Linwood/Delta intersection, which makes it crazy busy (via motorists regularly ignoring their speedometer), and thus, sometimes overwhelming for pedestrians...
Photo taken on 9/25/9.
So, in an effort to answer these needs, I thought it'd be fitting to give the square everything listed above... and more!
I first scanned through existing online pics of the Square, which were surprisingly few and far between...
So I decided to go down and take some pictures of the surroundings from the angles I needed...
It was a good thing that I scouted out the area firsthand, because I noticed a conflict with my "central clock tower" idea - one already exists on the corner of Delta & Linwood, near Chase Bank and Mount Lookout Tavern...
...so in deference to that original structure, but still in keeping with my new plan, I decided to nix the clock and just pay homage to the area's name by making a larger tower with an overlook atop.
Anyway, after doing all of this and conjuring up my incredulous proposal (sans paper), I floated the idea to others, who loved the concept, but balked at the assumed expense involved in actually creating it.
Blindly ignoring that, I started on the development, and built up a reference database from online sources...
...then did some quick sketches of the central tower & fountain...
...and then moved on to some more detailed sketches of the whole park...
To provide more accuracy, I then used Vivian Llambi's "Final Conceptual" overhead plans as a template for my ideas...
...and wrapped up with a quick draft of the final concept:
Note: Some changes here from the prior sketches.
I also deliberately skewed the perspective to showcase everything clearly.
And... not my best work, by any means - I ignored the ruler and was pretty
loose with the surroundings - but I think it gets the point across.
I originally thought it would be cool to have all of the things seen above: Catwalks above street-level to provide safe access, leading to a stairway through the middle of the tower - up to the top (a small overlook), and down to the bottom park area.
The south side of the park would be greenspace anchored by a fountain, and the north side would have greenspace anchored by a small stage with canopy. Tiered, permanent seating would also abut the tower's north side (kind of reflecting the Serpentine Wall aesthetic, but faced in brick), to aid in viewing stage performances/events or just act as casual seating.
The monumental central tower - also housing restrooms and storage/office space (for the Parks Dept. or community events) - would have an overlook space for casual pedestrian use or to house lighting/cameras for formal stage events.
Pretty ambitious, huh.
In heed of the cost and lack of space, here, in lesser form, are some other quick drafts...
and (2) solo catwalk with tiered seating.
I kept the end anchors (stage and fountain) but just reigned in the tower, which would be the most costly part of the project... but in actuality, maybe not, considering the money in Mt. Lookout these days.
And in retrospect, the design probably should've reflected the original shape of the Square, with half-rounds echoing each other throughout. Something like this...
Anything not in color is ground-level.
Lastly, the overarching concern surrounding all of this is, "Where is everyone going to park?".
Answer: I don't care.
It's a square for pedestrians in that neighborhood - people living there should walk to it, not drive. And if people visit, it's not a big deal to park a couple of blocks away and actually use their feet from there - that's pretty common for other current events that take place in the area anyway. I'm assuming the Mt. Lookout Community Development Corporation (MLCDC) and Vivian Llambi feel the same way... or maybe they're hoping for the second coming of a streetcar line to one day aid in their efforts.
Anyway, it's just a thought.
• Thanks to the excellent reporter and progressive Cincinnati advocate, Randy Simes, over at UrbanCincy for the news and images. Also check out his corresponding article on soapbox!.