Saturday, February 27, 1999

Tower for riverfront depends on Reds' plans

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Artist's rendering of the tower designed to be the centerpiece of a new park on Cincinnati's riverfront.
| ZOOM |
        The 150-foot tower planned for Cincinnati's riverfront — alternately blasted as ugly and hailed as an icon — could be put on hold for another month.

        Wayne Bain, the acting director for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, will recommend to commission members Tuesday that work on the tower be delayed until recreation staff can meet with planners for the new Reds ballpark.

        “We still feel very comfortable we will have a plaza and steps down to the Public Landing,” Mr. Bain said Friday. “The only thing that may change is the tower itself.”

        Mayor Roxanne Qualls and others have called the tower ugly and have questioned why it wasn't discussed in the riverfront planning meetings held regularly by city and Hamilton County officials.

        But Mr. Bain said recreation officials discussed the tower with Urban Design Associates, the Pittsburgh firm overseeing riverfront planning.

        The idea for the tower was unveiled in May 1997. The plan was to build the tower in a park with a 60-ton paddle wheel to celebrate the city's river heritage.

        But when the decision was made to build the Reds new ballpark on the riverfront next to Firstar Center (formerly the Crown), recreation officials weren't sure how the paddle wheel would fit.

        They decided to proceed with the tower to try to have it built in time for Tall Stacks in October.

        When the tower was unveiled, it was to be 80 feet. The project grew to 150 feet, Mr. Bain said, because the city's Urban Design Review Board didn't want the tower to get lost among all the massive structures along the river front, said Mark McKillip, the city's principal architect.

        The board also looked at the aesthetics of the tower and thought the design was good, Mr. McKillip said.

        “You could look at it as a steamboat stack with fire coming out of it,” he said, “but it's more abstract than that.”


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