The original culture of the Dorrian Green site is broad-ranging beginning with indigenous peoples’ settlements along the high bluff on the west bank of the Scioto River, to the first European settlement in central Ohio known as Franklinton, to the centerpiece of the 1914 Columbus Plan calling for the construction of the “Central High School” overlooking Columbus’s downtown. The former Central High School is now the location of the premiere science museum in the country (COSI), a branch of the American Museum of Natural History, and the National Veteran’s Memorial and Museum (NVMM).
The site’s most recent use was that of a 620-car surface parking lot supporting the adjacent Center of Science and Industry (COSI). However, the asphalt-paved hard surface produced a significant heat island effect, an unsustainable drainage/management system, and a significant loss of contributing community usage.
The design solution began with the replacement of the surface parking with an underground structure with proper vertical circulation and ventilation. Significant groundwater issues resulted in a creative, sustainable construction model authored by MKSK. This allowed for continued subsurface groundwater flows, energy-efficient dewatering practices, and financial efficiency enabling increased park investment. The creation of a Central Plaza to COSI and acknowledgement of the symmetry of the Peninsula were strong design layout influences. The Central Plaza contains tree-covered dining bosques, flush jet/lighted fountains, and open shelters that frame the view to the plaza fountain and COSI entry beyond.
Pathway configurations accommodate connections to and from surrounding facilities, destinations, and pedestrian crossings. These connections better link the park to various areas including the NVMM to the north, COSI and the American Museum of Natural History to the east, and the planned $600 million The Peninsula mixed-use development to the west, as well as future civic facilities to the south and the larger Scioto Greenways riverfront park system.
The park program provides places and spaces for the larger community to engage in outdoor and hands-on learning as an extension of the COSI science and education programming. In addition to play areas for both children and adults, amenities include a variety of gardens including a Sensory Garden, Reading Garden, Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, and Prairie Garden. These gardens consist of plants native to central Ohio. Accommodation of stormwater is managed for water quality and quantity within the garden setting.
The transformation of the former surface parking lot into an at-grade green roof for a parking structure below marks a significant shift in downtown open space development. Dorrian Green is now a world-class central open space that serves the community and residents of East Franklinton as their backyard neighborhood park. Through sustainable design features and opportunities to engage children of all ages, the park provides an amenity for the neighborhood and completes the Downtown Columbus Riverfront system of parks. As a frontispiece to COSI, accommodating thousands of visitors and school children per year, Dorrian Green provides the opportunity to further the learning mission of COSI and serve as the central public space for the burgeoning East Franklinton neighborhood and an emerging mixed-use development on the Scioto Peninsula.
Landscape Architect: MKSK
Other designers involved in the design of the landscape:
Contractor/Builder – Corna Kokosing Construction Company
Project Visioning – OLIN
Garage Architect – Desman Parking Consultants
Architecture – The Columbus Architectural Studio
Civil Engineering – EMH&T
Electrical Engineering – Korda
Year completed: 2017
Photo credits: Randall Lee Schieber Photography, Infinite Impact
Manufacturer of urban or play equipment:
Bench Swings: Landscape Forms
Playground equipment: Playworld Systems
Musical chimes: Freenotes Harmony Park™
Adirondack Chairs: Loll Designs
Concrete Unit Pavers: Hanover Architectural Products