When architect Michael Bongiorno walks between the Short North and Downtown, he admires the success of the cap that bridges 670, with the pedestrian-friendly continuity that its shops and restaurants have brought to High Street. But if he decides to head west, toward Goodale Park, he will take Russell Street or any alternative route to avoid the two large barren, concrete triangle-shaped spaces that sit along Goodale Boulevard. And he believes that instinctively, that’s probably what the rest of us do too.
Parched by unencumbered sunlight, these glaring, sidewalk-beige spaces are each lightly punctuated with a line of uninviting, shiny black benches. If you stop and take a good look, you’ll find that these areas do stand out like deserts in the middle of an urban oasis. Any nearby street has some respite of shade and natural or architectural interest. In these two spaces, the best you can do is train your eyes on a nearby tree or the lines of the Greek Orthodox Church and move through quickly.
“That should not be nothing in a city like Columbus,” says Bongiorno. “Really good cities that value the preciousness of their land should never leave spaces like that unaccounted for.”
Bongiorno’s passion for reimagining overlooked, unused, abandoned and wasted urban spaces was the subject of a Columbus TEDx talk that he gave last year called “Looking Over the Overlooked.” A principal and senior designer at DesignGroup, he has worked on innovative civic projects, including the Grange Audobon Center and the Peggy MacConnell Arts Center in Worthington, which were recently named AIA Ohio Honor Awards recipients. He also led the team that designed the addition to the Columbus Museum of Art, which broke ground in August.
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