Dorrian Green is a 6.5-acre (2.6 ha) park atop a new two-story underground parking garage with 640 spaces, adding green space and convenient parking at the heart of the Scioto Peninsula. (Aerial Image Solutions)

Type: Civic/public
Uses: Parks and open space, parking garages, civic museums
Developers: The Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) and the Capitol South Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation
Designers: MKSK; Jerome Scott Architects; Allied Works Architecture; the Olin Studio; Ralph Appelbaum Associates
Size: 48.2 acres (19.5 ha)
Date started: November 2013
Date opened: November 2015

Land uses:

  • Buildings: 272,000 square feet (25,270 sq m)
  • Open space: 1,829,520 square feet (169,968 sq m)
  • Total: 2,101,520 square feet (195,238 sq m)

The Scioto Peninsula Cultural District had been a developmental black hole, only recently coming to fruition after seven failed planning attempts within the past century. The district spans 48.2 acres (19.5 ha) and comprises four distinct amenities: the Scioto Greenways, a satellite location of the American Museum of Natural History in Columbus’s Center of Science and Industry, the National Veterans’ Memorial and Museum, and Dorrian Green.

The greenways—1.5 miles (2.4 km) of paths that connect surrounding neighborhoods to the downtown—were made possible by the removal of a century-old dam, which freed up 33 acres (13.3 ha) of land. The museum satellite brought world-class museum programming to a region that previously lacked easy access to such amenities. The National Veterans’ Memorial and Museum addressed a lack of formal recognition of veterans of all wars, both living and dead. The museum is currently free to all veterans and strives to be free to everyone in the coming years to continue to close the civilian/veteran gap.

Built over a parking garage, Dorrian Green is a park that has brought a much-needed playground to downtown Columbus. The garage is built in the floodplain and has been designed to resist flooding, even two stories underground. The Scioto River is at its healthiest in a century as a result of sustainability efforts that include stormwater management and butterfly habitats.
The project serves as an example of what public/private partnerships can accomplish for areas beyond their boundaries. Even though all four of its components are public amenities, the Cultural District has spurred over $900 million in investment on the peninsula and the adjacent 21 acres (8.5 ha).

Residents and visitors can take to the Scioto River on a kayak, canoe, or paddle board from one of four launches added as part of the project. (Randall L. Schieber)

This article is one of 11 highlighting this year’s winners of the ULI Global Awards for Excellence.