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The Sound of Ideas

Transforming Public Spaces Across NE Ohio

Posted Wednesday, January 20, 2010

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Transforming Public Spaces Across NE Ohio Local planners are thinking big about a redesign for northeast Ohio, including Cleveland's Public Square, Oberlin's downtown and Kent along with its university. Each transformation involves hundreds of millions of dollars. Renowned architect James Corner came up with three ideas to move Public Square far beyond a rather large bus stop and into a forest, a giant hill with traffic routed underneath or a huge lattice to frame the area. Oberlin contemplates a "green arts" district and the heart of Kent would be spruced up with new retail, office and residential space. Can such face-lifts revitalize these public spaces? Will suburbanites flock to center cities reborn? What can we learn from similar efforts in Chicago and Cincinnati? Join us with your thoughts Wednesday morning at 9.

Additional Audio

The Soldiers' and Sailors' monument commemorates the American Civil War. It was built in 1894 in downtown Cleveland's Public Square and recently underwent a vast restoration process. It is near completion and open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 4pm. A grand reopening is set for this summer. Ideastream producer Bridget De Chagas spoke with renowned architect Peter van Dijk about the meticulous process of bringing the monument back to its original grandeur.


Arts and Culture, Other, Community/Human Interest, Transportation


Steven Litt, Art/Architecture Critic, The Plain Dealer
Terry Schwarz, Interim Director, Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
Joe Marinucci, President, Downtown Cleveland Alliance
James Corner, Principal, Field Operations

Additional Information

Public Square Design Concepts (PDF)
Re-imagining Cleveland's Public Square, by Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer
Public Square Low on Cleveland Need List, The Cleveland Leader
Wall-E Park, by Robert Sullivan, New York Magazine
Transforming Public Square: Three Strategies for Enhancing Cleveland’s Civic Core, Thursday, Janurary 21st 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Glickman-Miller Hall, Atrium

Photo Gallery

Photos Courtesty of The Downtown Cleveland Alliance

Click to launch gallery

Leave a Comment

Please follow our community discussion rules when composing your comments.

Sandy Miller 10:12 AM 1/20/10

We have one of the largest nursery industries in the country!  Why do we not capitalize and make the square a learning center for urban plants and trees. 
Please Please Please jury local artists to collaborate.  We are so rich in talent from this area.  As a working artist I am consistently amazed at introductions the working artists from Cleveland, Ohio and the surrounding suburbs.

Richard Teresi 10:28 AM 1/20/10

I would like to see the city do something that is almost free and can be done almost immediately like other cities do.  That is, close off a main street on days when traffic is light, such as every Sunday.  Therefore opening up the entire square and some feeder roads to pedestrian and bike traffic only.

Richard 10:46 AM 1/20/10

I wish you panel all the luck in this project.  However the pessimistic curmudgeon in me just says that many people that live in the Cleveland area are just not all that interested in going downtown any longer except for the handful of things that they cannot do out in their own neighborhood, like see a Cavs game or events such as that.

As for retail space, just look in Galleria or Tower City there are tons of empty spaces there.  Putting in more retail space I’m afraid will just be empty.

Unfortunately I think it would just be one more place for homeless people to sleep.

I wish it were not the case because I love going downtown.  I’ve just heard this type of conversation many times now and while we have made some progress it usually seems very minor in scale to what Public Square used to be.

Tanner 10:47 AM 1/20/10

Cleveland needs to stop being a collection of suburbs and being a city.

My Question:

Has there been talk of a “river walk” like San Antonio or Pittsburgh? It seems to have worked for them?

matt 10:50 AM 1/20/10

I agree with the previous caller who mentioned the sycamore trees that were cut down a few years ago and were replaced by lollipop pear trees.  Bryant park in New York kept their sycamore trees and it creates a relaxing environment in the middle of a city.

Beth Giuliano 10:55 AM 1/20/10

I live overlooking the square, I shop downtown and eat downtown.  I run a gallery on Public Square (The Gallery at Old Stone) because I knew we needed it.

Citiliker 11:22 AM 1/20/10

Why go downtown?

The drive say from Cleveland Circle to Downtown is a total drag: endless stop-lights, tricky traffic cameras, grim vistas, and then the hassle parking. As it’s a ghost-town you can often park on the street- if you are feeling lucky- (homeless men pop car windows in search for change for beer) or shell out $5 to $10.

Sadly public transportation is hardly an alternative.
The Cleveland Circle stop has not ONE parking spot.
Tell me when you last rode the rapid or the bus? Did you have fun?
It is not a comfy experience and no longer cheap.
Not all your buddies on board make you relax. 
(Check out the new ticket dispensers. They are incomprehensible! A bad portent.)

I hate my car & love cities, but until the trip in & out is easy nobody but sportsfans & gamblers (& maybe medical vendors) will come.


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