United States

Riverfront Park - OH

Located along the Ohio River and adjacent to the Public Landing, where the first settlers of Cincinnati arrived, this waterfront park, completed for the Bicentennial was designed by landscape architect Robert Zion of the firm Zion & Breen Associates. Originally conceived by city officials as a series of discreet park experiences, Zion presented a Recreational Master Plan Proposal for the Waterfront to the Citizens Riverfront Committee, promoting a park “designed as an entity and not splintered into episodes.” The design firm, alert to the cultural importance of the riverfront, suggested a “concept-of-use” for the large civic park, envisioning a continuous public space that offered diverse services and amenities. Zion understood the town-river dynamic, in which the Ohio River was simultaneously therapeutic affirmation of nature and mercurial source of damage, some years flooding the city multiple times. The resulting Modernist landscape features a 25-foot high serpentine embankment of concrete stadium seating. Crowds use the steps to watch civic performances and river boat traffic, and cleverly integrated hose connections within the seating allow steps to be flushed clean after floods. Immediately above and behind the iconic curvilinear form, in the upper portions of the park, a tree-lined walk and broader parkland expanses are safely protected from the possibility of a river flooding below.

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