As the master developer for the Uptown Innovation Corridor, Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI) spent several years creating plans for the development in partnership with international global planning and design firm Sasaki. These planning initiatives yielded the Corridor master plans, including three design principles that lead all development in the area: Great Streets, Great Spaces and Great Places.
“Since the beginning our goal has been to articulate a thoughtful implementation framework that balances land use, urban design, placemaking and real estate strategies,” says Beth Robinson, UCI’s President and CEO. “With Sasaki’s help, we have a roadmap to create a world-class urban district.”
The Great Streets, Great Spaces and Great Places principles are intended to guide current and future decision-making regarding the location, planning, design and quality of new projects that individually and collectively advance UCI’s vision for the Corridor.
Starting with the August newsletter, UCI will will focus on a different design principle through a series of articles, beginning with Great Streets. Streets that serve as major connections to and through the Uptown Innovation Corridor provide an opportunity to “set the tone” for the district’s appearance.
“For the Innovation Corridor, the streetscape elements will be thoughtfully designed and will help to create a cohesive visual identity,” Robinson says.
The Great Streets principle includes five components designed to create a pedestrian-friendly environment by increasing walkability and connectivity within the Corridor and the surrounding community:
Organize continuous buildings along primary streets to reinforce Uptown’s identity as an urban place. However, all streets will include connections to the interior development, especially through the ecological corridor.
Include retail and other active programming on the ground floor of developments along primary streets to encourage pedestrian activity and an 18/7 urban environment (18 hours a day/7 days per week).
Integrate safe connections for all modes of travel by separating the pedestrian and bicycle zones from vehicular and transit zones. In addition, UCI continues looking at ways to increase transportation options in Uptown, including a potential “transit hub” in the Corridor.
Create a distinct, pedestrian character throughout the Corridor by including trees and other elements along primary streets in addition to the ecological corridor.
Prioritize architectural and landscape design, material, and construction quality along main streets to increase sustainability and visual consistency.
Walkability and connectivity are critical to UCI’s placemaking efforts in the Corridor. According to the Brookings Institution, walkable urban places are more economically successful and can help attract talent to an area. In addition, Brookings’ research shows that “walkable urban places result in more sustainable tax bases, new economic foundations for the local economy, better climate outcomes, and better health outcomes.”
Innovation districts are more than the innovative companies and institutions who locate in the developments. They are ecosystems that include a range of transit options, active programming and public collaboration spaces, and neighborhood amenities that—together—create the type of inclusive environment where people want to live, work and play. That’s why these design principles are so significant to UCI’s planning and development intiiatives—Great Streets, including walkable, 18/7 environments, are key components of successful innovation districts.
UCI has engaged local partners on all planning initiatives, including the City of Cincinnati, Uptown neighborhood community organizations, neighborhood residents and other local civic, business and community leaders. In 2018, UCI established the Uptown Innovation Corridor Advisory board consisting of key stakeholders to provide input on Corridor plans, including the development principles.
This is just one example of the years of planning that have gone into developing the Corridor into a world-class innovation district. Now, the Corridor is coming to life with the construction of Uptown Gateway and the tenant-packed 1819 Innovation Hub. As developers submit new plans and as construction continues across the Corridor, these design principles will ensure that the Corridor is developed in a sustainable and pedestrian-friendly manner to foster a collaborative, innovative and inclusive community.
For more information on the Uptown Innovation Corridor, visit www.uptowninnovationcorridor.com.