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Monday, August 13, 2007

New Signature Tower Needed??

There has been some discussion recently over the need (or lack thereof) for a new signature tower in Cincinnati. Queen City Square II offers that potential with it's signature style architecture and size. It would be the new tallest in Cincinnati, and would have a new/fresh look that isn't all too prevalent in Midwestern cities. But the question still exists...does Cincinnati need a new signature tower...or for that matter does Cincinnati even have a signature tower/landmark.

I would argue that Cincinnati does have a signature tower in Carew, but whether it is a landmark feature is another question. I would say that outside of the world of people who are interested in Cincinnati and/or city history that very few people know the history of the beautiful Art Deco skyscraper. You could also argue that Union Terminal is landmark-esque for Cincinnati, but the same holds true for it with the average joe.

So, does Cincinnati need a new signature tower...well I'll answer with yet another question. What is the signature tower in Portland, OR...San Diego, CA...Boston, MA...Miami, FL or Washington, DC? Now sure, some of these places have their landmark buildings (most notably DC), but they don't really have signature towers. What makes Paris, London, Madrid, or Rome so special? They all lack the skyscrapers that are prevalent in American cities, but they have great built environments and pedestrian friendly amenities.

Proposed Queen City Square II

Cincinnati is special in the same way...sure it doesn't have the skyscrapers like new boomtowns of Atlanta, Miami, Houston, or Dallas. But it has a built environment that those cities will never be able to duplicate. Over-the-Rhine is a landmark for Cincinnati, so is Union Terminal, Carew Tower, Central Trust Tower, Roebling Suspension Bridge, and one could even argue Columbia Tusculum.


Now don't get me wrong...I'm not opposed to another stylish skyscraper downtown, but I don't think that Cincinnati needs it by any stretch of the imagination. Often times skyscrapers actually hurt that all important street-life that you hope to create in an urban environment. I say go for it, but don't go out of your way to accomplish building these skyscrapers. They are pretty...but like a book, the quality of a city should not be judged by its cover.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of my concerns would be hurting the great skyline that exists now. I think another skyscraper would fit alright in the middle of downtown, such as 6th street and even further north toward the Kroger building. It doesn't seem to fit as well on 3rd street.

Raskir said...

I agree with "Anonymous". Looking at that mark-up, the Queen City Square building looks a bit out of place. I do not like how it looks off on its own if you will. It also seems to tower over the rest of our beautiful skyline. Maybe its just me, or maybe its that the mark-up is meant to be drammtic but it really looks out of place. It also doesn't have the old style charm that I love about our skyline. I don't know, I'm just not sold on this new building. Maybe once its there and I get used to it my feelings will change but as of now, my vote is for not needing a "new" signature tower.

On a side note great topic. Very interesting and I am looking forward to everyon's opinions.

Radarman said...

Your remarks about the general unimportance of signature skyscrapers are sound.
And there are good reasons to worry about the Queen City Square project. The first phase, at Broadway and Third is completely automobile oriented and most unfriendly to the sidewalk. And there is no reason to think that Western & Southern will suddenly become interested in good architecture.

Kevin LeMaster said...

In my opinion, Cincinnati doesn't necessarily need a signature skyscraper, though I wouldn't be averse to getting one.

You're right about our iconic buildings not being well-known outside of the region, and Queen City Square won't be well-known either. It would be newer and more modern, but there's nothing special about it.

Anonymous said...

You're forgetting that signature buildings are supposed to make a statement.

The city's current statement, the Carew Tower, is not so great. I've never heard or read anywhere that it is some kind of icon. Because it is simplistic and 60 years old, it may reflect on the city as being old-fashioned.

Putting that aside, when looking at the city directly north from Covington, one can't even see it. That's because the Scripps Building on Third is the dominate skyscraper.

As far as the Central Trust (PNC) Tower is concerned, that was a knock-off of a building in NYC.

UncleRando said...

Well I hope people in NYC recognize the fact that the Brooklyn Bridge is a knock off of the Roebling Suspension Bridge here...the same can be said for the Yankees and/or Brooklyn Dodgers being a knock off of the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Who cares...a signature building is something that is a signature part of the built environment. Cincinnati wouldn't be what it is today without those two beauties in the skyline.

John said...

I'd say it matters less about the building itself and more about what's in the building. If it can be filled with offices that keep people working downtown then it makes sense. I keep thinking of the phrase "content is king." I know it's a different field entirely, but there's a similarity. Newport on the Levee is busy and keeps a crowd because there's something to do. However (within reason) downtown achieves this is fine by me.

Anonymous said...

Actually, John ...

Newport on the Levee is dead during the day. One would think that the place is closed until about 6 or 7.

I drove through downtown tonight and headed over to Newport from the Southgate and downtown had a larger crowd than Newport. Newport's days are numbered.

Cyberbooner said...

I'd like to see them build something more north or on the eastern edge. Wouldn't mind seeing the city expand a bit to all that open space, er surface lots, along Broadway. As for the north, something needs to help out the Kroger Building. I guess to satisfy both thoughts Broadway Commons would be a good fit for a new building.

Anonymous said...

If the office market demands a new office tower we will get a new tower. I imagine with the right design the tower could be "pedestrian" friendly, and for city approval with anticipation of the Banks it most likely will be.

I suspect that everything new looks out of place until people get used to it. Shit, in 1932, people probably thought Carew Tower was too tall or "too art deco", or more recently how many people on these blogs bitched about how bad the new Fountain Square looked...regardless of the how much good it has done for downtown.

At the end of the day, the increased space and workers will be a good thing for downtown especially with some design criteria mandated at the street-level

Randy, your west-side, "things are good the way they are" is showing on this post.

Also, outside of Cincinnati, I doubt anyone really cares what the "signature tower" although to your point, I've only been to Portland once so I dont know much about their skyline except that it is kinda stubby looking, San Diego is probably the Hyatt, but its proximity to the airport has kept buildings low, Boston is either the John Hancock Building or the "Pru", and ask someone in Miami and they'll be sure to tell you something about their skyline. DC is not a fair comparison because of its height restrictions.

Paris and London I know for a fact do have skyscapers. La Defense and much of Central London will be reaching for the heavens pretty soon (see the latest ULI) magazine, not to mention Canary Wharf...

OK, I'm done, back to work

UncleRando said...

My point wasn't that Cincinnati is fine the way it is, but rather that a signature skyscraper doesn't make a city special. It is the people and the businesses that make a city special (as many have noted with their responses).

New investment is a great thing, and I made it clear that it would be welcome. But with that said, does it have to come in the form of a new signature skyscraper. No...not necessarily. It could be a cluster of small buildings that would fill in the Broadway Commons area, or a project like The Banks, or even continued large-scale investment in OTR.

A new skyscraper is surely welcome, but it is not needed for the livelyhood of Cincinnati and its downtown.

Anonymous said...

I personally do not understand some of the rationalizations people have made about a "signature tower." What it all comes down to is economic development, and a veteren player such as W&S Financial is not going to buld this building unless it is at least half spoken for in regards to leases. The news release of CIncinnati being the 7th cheapest major metropolitan city to operate in bodes well for W&S to attract more jobs to Cincinnati. Queen City Phase I is completely filled now, which also gives optimism to the second phase. The economic impact of this building would be extremely significant for downtown and would help bridge the gap between the banks project and the business district. Being down on third street with that many workers would spur the demand for more resturants around the proximity of the building. More jobs would create more demand for condos downtown and surrounding real estate. Lastly, this building does not look out of place; it appears that way in the rendering because a rendering naturally focuses on the new building. A new modern look with a signature toppping off of the top of the skyscraper would be a blessing for downtown. I am from Cincinnati, but have lived in Charlotte and NYC and this rendering is extremely elegant and sophisticated. NYC has tons of skyscrapers, but no one ever loses their loves for the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building; two buildings built in the same generation of the Carew Tower. The same can be said for the PNC and Carew Tower. Us Cincinnatians will always love and admire our heritage, but economic development demands new stylish buildings; Carew tower simply does not offer the techonological advances and office layouts that the 21st century needs. We should be excited and not skeptical of this devlopment for Cincinnati. Hopefully W&S Financial along with the city can secure some leases!

UncleRando said...

^Great points...and I completely agree. The trickle down effects of a project like this will be great. It is my understanding that Eagle (the development arm of W&S dealing with this project) wants to have 60% pre-leased, and 100% of 303 Broadway filled before they break ground.

303 Broadway is filled as you have noted, but now it is essentially going to take a new corporate HQ to get phase two going. I'm confident that they can pull through on this project that will have a huge economic impact on downtown and the center city as a whole.

Anonymous said...

What boggles my mind is that people in Cincinnati seem to be so opposed to new skyscrapers. Carew Tower, while being a nice tower, isn't he end all, be all of skyscrapers. Cincinnati IS an American city, so why do people here think the city will somehow cave in if a new tallest is built?

I say go for it. Make it taller than Key Tower in Cleveland. Cincinnati will still be Cincinnati. People aren't going to die if a new tallest is built - regardless of location.

Ironworkers building Cincinnati said...

This city needs to keep on expanding. There was a time when Cincinnati was larger than Chicago. Now we seem to be trying to catch up with cities that were almost non existant, before the railroad. People automaticaly reject change. Now we are on the verge with our new stadiums and Foutian Square redone. I wish the people would embrace the changes and hope for more. I welcome any new building to this city. The crew tower has seen its day. Oh yeah the Central Trust Building is a knock off of the Pantheon in Greece. Every idea comes from some where else.

Anonymous said...

I am looking into Queen City Tower right now and see at least 2 completely empty floors.

UncleRando said...

^Yes...and it is my understanding that Key Bank will be making those two floors their consolidated offices for the region. Their name/logo will also be placed at the top of the tower. It is completely leased and/or accounted for.

Anonymous said...

for one thing. the proposed new tower is not going to attract any interest architecturally. if anything is going to be considered the largest building in cincinnati it had better be something special. that tower is not. Cincinnati does not need a new tower at all. it is the type of city that needs more landmark buildings like the CAC or union terminal. In my experience, the Seattle Library has overshadowed the Space Needle. We cant get over zealous. The key Bank building in Cleveland is a nice example of how a smaller city cant even sustain that large of a building. Last time i was in Cleveland, the building was up for sale. i dont think thats a good sign. The World Trade Centers stood 70% vacant for years. There is no need for a large tower now, we need people on the streets walking from building to building. We dont want 50% of the downtown population all walking into one massive microcommunity each day and not coming out until quitting time.

Byrdman said...

I agree with some of the above comments, and in my opinion Cincinnati has the nicest looking skyline in Ohio. Queen City Square will only add to that, there's no way it could take anything away from the quality of architecture downtown. It seems to fit in perfectly. I hear many people saying that its positioning is somewhat off center for a new tallest, but one has to think ahead. Maybe in the future We'll have an 800-900 footer in the center of downtown to balance out QC square tower. To me it just seems wierd that remarkably smaller cities such as Tulsa,Oklahoma and Mobile,Alabama have taller high rises than a well established city such as Cincinnati.If there's one problem with this city its the simple fact that we don't get things done, like the city council is afraid of change or something (Lightrail or subway for example) How ghetto is it that we have subway tunnels with no train tracks? Its kinda funny. Don't be scared of change, we don't wanna be in the stone age while other cities pass us by.

Anonymous said...

I moved to this city 6 months ago and I am sorry to have to say this, but people here are so completely backwards and opposed to development. People bitch and moan about every project that is proposed until the point thats its shoved back under the rug because no one can agree on something. Why is everyone around here so conservative and opposed to change?

I feel as if A new tower will make the city seem more vibrant and as if its coming back to life.. Hey more development might even attract new residents and companies! I say (within reason) bring on the new tower, bring on lightrail...get the banks project rolling.... before the rest of the country passes us by for ANOTHER 10 years!

Anonymous said...

I acress with the above comment about projects running into opposition. Look at how the NAACP has screwed up the Banks project. Why does it matter who builds it, just build it and get it done.

Its frustrating for me, having lived here only a year, to read all the crazy oppositions to different projects throughout the city.

Anonymous said...

I think all of this arguing in Cincinnati about development is stupid and pointless. There is nothing wrong about developing the area. The new tower will bring more jobs to the area, which will help reduce unemployment rates. If the city would be more open to development, then there would be more cash flow, jobs, etc. I think that the new tower can only benifit the city.

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