BCDT: Planning Memo (Joe, Jonny, Kyle, Miles, & Jairran)

The BCDT opted to attend the Brewery District planning commission meeting on October 4th. It was in a fairly accessible government building located on 111 Front St. It is important to note, however, that the building required a government ID and check-in in order to attend the meeting — in some ways this could be seen as a barrier to entry.

Upon arrival, the room was not very well populated. While there were 96 seats available, less than 15 were filled, including those who intended to present to the commission and our team. The room was laid out in a very typical manner, with the commissioners at a large desk at the front, and a 2-microphone desk facing the commissioners for people to give presentations.

The procedure was surprisingly informal, involving a basic opening statement and the first item on the agenda almost immediately being brought up afterward.

The first item was fairly straight forward. A Holiday Inn Express was replacing another hotel and there was a short debate on signage. One would be a freestanding sign that replaced an older sign of the same style, and the other a mounted sign. The freestanding sign technically went against the zoning ordinances of the Brewery District, but the commissioners seemed happy to help with the hotel representative to make sure it could be grandfathered in because it was replacing a sign. The other sign was rejected until further manufacturing information could be obtained, as all the presenter had brought with him was a visual draft with no formal technical specifications. Overall, this process only took around 20 minutes and was settled quickly.  

The second case was the truly interesting one. Three men, working for a developer, sat across the from commissioners. They were pitching modifications to a two unit residential area in the center of the Brewery District. The first order of business was by far the most contentious yet: parking.

Each unit was listed to have two spaces. Using hand and digital drafts on a board, the three developers presented how it was to be laid out. Immediately one of the commissioners began to object, claiming it would not be possible for larger vehicles such as pickup trucks to fit in the space. This was the first argument that started among the commissioners.

Several of them took the side of the developers and several took the side of their fellow commissioner. The problem seemed less to do with strict regulation, but instead with personal preference in design. Several argued that this was just a reality of owning a home in the area and that if you wanted a large vehicle, you would not live in that unit. On the other hand, the main objector argued that you cannot expect tennants to change transportation choices based on where they live — which seems somewhat antithetical to good planning.

The solution that the board agreed upon was to petition the city for an eight foot curb cut and expand the space. The developers did not like this, as it would further delay the construction, and a curb cut could be difficult to attain if the curb was made from historic sandstone. Thus, more debate ensued.

After nearly 30 minutes of entirely informal bickering, two options were settled upon. First, the curb cut, and second, listing the unit as zero parking, even if two spots are technically available. The developers seemed unhappy with this decision, but accepted it as it was their only choice. After a vote, the commissioners agreed both were acceptable for the brewery district.  

Even through arguing and disagreements, the room felt generally cooperative. The board had the best interests of the developer and the district in mind — they simply disagreed on fundamental design principles. This wide range of opinions most likely helps to build a resilient community rather than a single-minded one. For instance, the main objector, mentioned earlier, was a landscape architect with good experience in the field and had worked heavily on parking projects in the past. Even though he was only one with a dissenting opinion, the other members and the developers took his opinion very seriously.

Overall the meeting was a good experience, while it did take over 45 minutes to come to a conclusion on 2 parking spaces, it showed how planners, developers, and citizens all are accounted for in commission meetings. It also was an excellent look into some of the disorganization and informality that can occur even within the formal confines of a government building.

attached picture for reference:

Blog Post 5: BCDT(Joe, Jairran, Jonny, Kyle, Miles)

1) The goals and objectives for the University District are to provide land use recommendations for the planning area that serve as a framework for zoning and other land use decisions, to provide guidelines for the design of new development, and to inform capital improvement priorities. The University District’s first residency dates back to the early 1800s. The main existing goal of the district is to preserve history, and it is to include and upkeep the surrounding parks( Iuka, Tuttle, etc.). The future plans for the area are to focus on landscaping(buffering), implementing the idea of “floor area ratio”, and incorporating mixed-use development.

2) I feel that the land use goals and objectives are going to be a success to the University District in Columbus Ohio. The use of “floor area ratios” based on the size of the property and delegating a certain percentage of the land to leave as landscaping/green space. This will be a very beneficial concept used to preserve nature as more new construction and money pour into the city. I feel that Columbus is ahead of the curve so to speak in terms of preserving the city and the nature around it, and the implementation of these new plans will only benefit the city further. Finally, I feel that the University District will continue to prioritize preserving parks and natural settings while still accommodating to the heavy traffic in the area.

3) The recent developments in the University district are mostly in accordance with the guidelines set by the neighborhood plan, especially along High Street. A large focus of the plan was the development of high-density, mixed-use buildings along High, which can be seen in the construction of the new Target store, the new Chipotle, and the apartments above them. Another emphasis of the plan was to enhance the shopping experience for the pedestrian by providing several shops and on the ground level, with a focus on non-automobile related commercial establishments. Again, this is evident in the recent openings of several new stores on High. The new developments in the University District also reflect the building height guidelines, with the tallest buildings around campus on Lane and High. The plan does mention promoting both foot and bike traffic. In terms of foot traffic, several sidewalks in the University district remain heavily damaged. On the other hand, large parking structures aren’t very prevalent in the area (which is also specified in the plan), which discourages the use of cars in the neighborhood. Infrastructure for bikes appears to be lacking in this area. Although there are markings on many major roads for bike use, only Summit and 4th have barriered bike lanes for safe bike travel. Lastly, the plan notes a desire to make parks and open spaces heavily connected to the neighborhood and easy to access. The neighborhood parks along the Olentangy River are interconnected by the many trails along the river, which also encourages walking or biking over driving.

4) I believe the plan addresses the issues that are currently vibrant within the District. The focus on floor area ratios and using residency intensities as a driving factor to preserve greenery around the area. Also, they offered a plethora of recommendations in order to combat issues that may arise in the future regarding the territory. I think that their use of rezoning, variances, and council variances will dictate the ultimate success of the plan.

5) The first advice we have for the plan is not actually related to the content of the plan – but rather the format. While planning a city is often done by planners and other experienced and or educated individuals, it is without a doubt a community effort. These communities are typically made of a variety of people who work a variety of jobs and enjoy a variety of other activities. What they almost all have in common, however, is a lack of free time. Even when citizens do have free time, reading through and understanding an 88 page PDF can be tedious. Creating a robust and interactive website that includes timelines, graphics, links to ongoing projects, and more, would be a far more accessible way to present the plan to the community. This would likely bolster interest in the general progress of the city. The second change we would like to see in the plan is it lacks cohesion of a neighborhood. Most of the design guidelines heavily emphasize that businesses should not implement art, extensions, and dining that can be seen/interfere with other areas. While this is a good guideline to ensure businesses do not overextend into other plots, it fails to provide help on how to create good design — and more importantly how to unite several businesses in an area to create a single University District. Finally, the section on corner stores seems subpar. Mixed use areas are often beneficial, and once again the 4 guides provided simply say what not to do as opposed to promoting a healthier and better community. We would recommend going further in depth on how negative and positive impacts can be analyzed. For instance, a small produce grocer that provides fresh fruit to neighboring houses is a good, whereas a liquor store is less beneficial.


Blog Post 3: BCDT

Blog Post Three: 


The first area of this field assessment that jumped out at our group was the sidewalks — this is the very nature of walking any route. Sidewalks are key to a pedestrian friendly areas, and make up for a large part of the routes at Ohio State. For the most part, Ohio state is fully interconnected by sidewalks. From the network of paths across the Oval, to the linear yet efficient stretch up Canon Drive.

The center of campus had the best sidewalks by far. In general, the sidewalks around the Oval were wide enough to accommodate the large amount of daily foot traffic and were in good condition. However, there were some places, notably on the north side of the Oval where the sidewalks were heavily damaged. Also, near Page Hall, the sidewalk was too narrow for more than two people to walk side-by-side.


<- the narrow pathway near page.

<- ample room for many pedestrians on The Oval.


The other stretches of campus also had fairly good sidewalk accessibility – with the acception of some areas near the shoe such as the one pictured below:

This sidewalk pictured is certainly not Accessible to those who may not be prepared to deal with harder terrain.


Over all, when it comes to accessibility, Ohio State did very well. Notable example of accessibility come in the form of the ramp and stair choices at the Billy Ireland Cartoon museum that blend flawlessly (pictured below).

Most of Ohio State’s campus was accessible, featuring gradually sloping sidewalks for easy access to intersections, along with handrails, and much more. Another example of seamless design is in front of the College of Business with this well placed ramp:

Another great accessibility feature that OSU has focused on is handicap parking — which can be found near almost every building.


Parking as a whole is often joked about by students and staff alike. Taking this bias we noticed several trends in campus parking — firstly was parking garages. There certainly was an abundance of them across campus, which are more efficient and can offer much more to the campus than a normal surface parking lot. Pictured below is one of campus’ smaller surface lots, which clearly does not hold many vehicles.

Another surface lot that took up lots of space was the one around the shoe, pictured below. This lot is often used by visiting bands for festivals, and various tailgating — making it a unique instance of a mixed use parking lot.

Meanwhile, High street is more characterized by its 2 hour metered parking spots along the side of the road.


As for street safety, campus can be something of a mixed bag. Some areas, such as woodruff, offer pedestrian lights and sounds that allow everyone to know who’s turn it is to use the intersection. The image of the business school from earlier has one of said crosswalks in it. Sadly, not all crosswalks on and around campus are as safe.

Pictured above is a crosswalk that relies on drivers seeing the yellow signs and halting for pedestrians. Even though the crosswalk here is ‘closed’ it is still clearly in use, and this is the same case for non-street light monitored crosswalks all over High Street — this can be incredibly detrimental as High Street is one of the highest traffic areas in all of Columbus.

This similar style crosswalk is far more appropriate on a smaller campus road such as the one shown below.


Our final area of discussion is street width. High Street is the widest of the Streets on campus, but much of it is taken up by parking. As can be seen below it is not wide enough to accomodate the bike lane it claims to have.

The next image is very typical of a campus street, featuring 2 lanes and allowing for traffic to flow in both directions. Only a few streets on campus were one way.

These streets are acceptable for most general use, but can easily become congested during busy times such as rush hour or game day. They also can be unsafe if cars attempt to pass bikes that have not claimed the entire lane.

Overall, however, Ohio State has done an excellent job of using it’s land to create an interconnected, safe, and accessible campus with a pedestrian focus.

~Back Corner Design Team

Blog 2: BCDT

Back Corner Design Team- Joe, Jonny, Kyle, Miles, & Jairran.

1. Happiness: This artistic piece of painting displayed on a building brings joy to those who explore High St.

2. Pride: The publicly displayed mural of this scarlet and gray clad football player truly shows Columbus’s admiration and pride in OSU’s football team.

3. Rage: The unending constructional the campus area is a constant source of ire for everyone due to re-routes as well as heavy traffic for both pedestrians and vehicles.

4. Worry: We fear living in a place where we are constantly watched.

5. Disgust: This alleyway lined with trash cans is a visible reminder of the more disgusting aspects of living in an urban environment, such as the vast amount of waste that we produce.