Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Symbol(on) of Cincinnati

Earlier we reviewed a lost concept for Cincinnati's riverfront, which hinted at a towering structure on banks of the Ohio, not unlike that of a local project proposed around that same time: The Symbolon.

The Symbolon was to be a massive structure representative of the city - an idea sparked by the construction of Eero Saarinen's St. Louis Gateway Arch in the 1960s.  From the book Unbuilt Cincinnati:

In the fall of 1961 - the same year that construction finally started on Eero Saarinen's St. Louis Gateway Arch - the Cincinnatus Association announced a competition for a Cincinnati Gateway Monument, or 'Symbolon' - symbolic of "the history, the character of the present city, and its future."
A jury of nationally prominent architects could not find enough merit in any of the 62 entries submitted and therefore declined, in October 1962, to name a winner.
The attention that the competition drew to the Riverfront is credited, though, for helping to pass the urban renewal bond issue in November 1962 and, ironically, for shifting the public interest from a Riverfront historical park to a Riverfront baseball stadium and to a Convention Center within the CBD.

This grand structure never breached the RFP stage, but imagine it had...

Perhaps the most recent representation of the Symbolon concept almost arose again at the turn of this century, only a boat ride away:

• Coming soon: Revisiting the grand revolving restaurants of Cincinnati's past, more Cincinnati Gateway projects, and the unbuilt Millenium Tower of Newport, KY.

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