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Olentangy River Front

Olentangy River Front


The area of study is the east bank of the Olentangy River from Herrick Drive Bridge to Woody Hayes Bridge. This is a heavily used bicycle/pedestrian corridor with the Olentangy trail running through the site. Currently, the City of Columbus is in the process of restoring the river from the recently removed 5th Ave. dam up to Lane Ave. The landscape east of the Olentangy trail is primarily lawn, shade trees and mature groupings of evergreen plantings. Along the river bank the landscape is primarily comprised of invasive species such as honeysuckle and purple loosestrife. Several paths lead from the Olentangy trail up the earth mound to an upper path and the campus beyond. The Drake sits along the river edge and is primarily used for theater performances and events. The Crew Club stages currently stores equipment in the lower level.

The River district must capitalize on the transformed river corridor. Regardless of the future of the existing Towers, this is a good location for residential life. This district is prime river frontage, adjacent to indoor and outdoor recreation amenities. More beds are needed to create a substantive community. New residence halls should activate Cannon Drive and the east-west connection back to the Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC), while also maximizing access to the river.


1. Restoration of the river is a key effort of the City and the University. As part of that restoration, establishment of a riparian corridor is important in improving water quality and stormwater management. Ideally a minimum dimension for the riparian planting should be between 10m and 30m. Beyond what the city will be planting along this river front what additional planting is required and what character should it take on? What types of plantings should dominate this corridor? 

2. Study view corridors to landmark buildings such as the Ohio Stadium and the Schottenstien Center. 

3. Provide outdoor event space around The Drake. Consider picnic shelter/s in adjacent greenspace. 

4. Future development in the area includes the Science and Technology Gateway and Cannon Drive Relocation. Developments of these facilities along this portion of the river are 10-15 years out, but the design should take this into consideration to avoid disruption of installed landscape improvements.

5. Create opportunities for research along river bank and stormwater outfalls. 

6. Converting the lower level of the Drake from a Crew Club use to a bicycle hub could be a good reuse of the space.

New development opportunity in conjunction with the dam removal

- Make the campus navigable with a restored street network and dynamic wayfinding

- Require that projects meet multiple goals

- Create a 24/7 campus

- Recognize the whole campus as part of the learning environment

- Enhance neighborhoods in support of live/work philosophy

- Link space allocations to utilization