August 28, 2003

Healing Freeway Scars

Wow, this is good, I pretty much agree with
City Comforts gushing write up.

The skinny? The city of Columbus Ohio (which I have mad love for btw, hi Jen and Ed!) recently built a freeway overpass with stores on either side. Why is this important? Because having a freeway run straight through an urban area divides a city in
disparate sections, its an action segregation, striation and division. It blocks the flow of people from place the place, and discourages people from walking or interacting with their neighbors a few hundred feet across the freeway.

By making a freeway overpass just another urban street Columbus has gone a long way toward healing those divisions. It rejoins the neighborhoods on either side of the freeway, reenabling a healthy flow between the two sides. It's a model for urban spaces reclaiming space from the divisive culture and actuality of the freeway.

Of course we'll need to be on the watchout for any potential draw backs. I'm a little concerned about the viability of a freeway overpass as a place of business. The fumes can not be good. Rents a presume will be lower, which might be a good thing. Perhaps these can be used as urban incubation spaces, where new business can experiment with low overhead? Overall this is a good thing I think, but it still needs study.

[via the excellent Beyond Brilliance: Healing Freeway Scars]

Posted by Abe at August 28, 2003 02:47 PM


Rents are actually going to be 20% higher on "the cap" to help cover extra development costs. Trash pickup will be from the curb. I don't think fumes will be a problem in the front of the building, the building itself kind of blocks the freeway, that's the point. I don't think any businesses have rented space yet. I'm a Columbus native living in Chicago (as many of us that want to be in bigger cities do) so I can't keep in total contact with my old home.

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the cap was a good idea. i will admit it. but it does NOT function as a "normal city street" because it was built in a disparate architectual style - in a historical, vibrant sector of the city. and it is cheaply built. in one upper-end coffee bar, the ceiling leaks. problem. also, i feel that the interesting concept could have been *more fully explored* - in the shops and restraunts that lie over the freeway, the side that actually faces out over the freeway is sealed up, windowless, and from the freeway gives the overpass an akward, slapped together feel. am i the only one who enjoys the view from the top of an overpass? the view of cars flowing under you is exciting - it is an experience that expressedly urban but interestingly childlike at the same time. at night, windows facing over the freeway would not only have a great view of the city, but also of a ribbon of headlights passing underneath. Why ignore what we are acually doing - redifining the relationship between a city and it's major thoroughfares(?) i say embrace it. does anyone else like this idea?