May 27, 2016

Convention Center streetscape work now underway

A sweeping expansion and renovation that will bring major upgrades to the Greater Columbus Convention Center won’t stop inside the building; the center’s sidewalks, signage, street lights, and trees are getting a facelift, too.

When work wraps up next year on the $125 million project, convention goers and Columbus residents alike will be able to enjoy a continual weave of trees, flowers, and ground cover along High Street, beginning at the south end of the center all the way to Goodale Boulevard.

Enhancing those green spaces will be new lighting to make the surroundings more visible at night, exterior art installations and reimagined, more usable public areas.

The streetscape project complements work planned by the City of Columbus that will stretch north from Nationwide Boulevard through the Short North. The FCCFA began its own streetscape work earlier this spring.

Landscape architects MKSK led the site design. Schooley Caldwell architects are coordinating the streetscape work with prime architects, LMN, of Seattle.

“Things will be dramatically different in a good way,” said architect Robert D. Loversidge, Jr., Schooley Caldwell’s president and CEO. “This streetscape not only will enhance High Street along the Convention Center, but it will complement and respect the iconic architecture of the building.”

Two of the more stunning improvements will be Arnold Plaza and the entry approach where the south building connects with the north building.

“Arnold Plaza will be completely redone,” Loversidge said. “It will have bistro tables and seating, benches, a plaza area for special events, and an area for a tent, if needed. The Arnold Schwarzenegger statue will be lit up and properly mounted. A new food service area just inside the plaza will make it possible for people to bring their food outside and sit under a canopy of lights or a canopy of trees.”

The connector entrance was originally built as a freeway exit bridge. That area also will be dramatically improved, with a modern new sign welcoming visitors, new lighting, lush plants and beautiful trees.

The project will ultimately wrap around the north end of the Convention Center to what will be called Short North Plaza on Goodale Boulevard. As part of the streetscape work, new wayfinding signs will help guide visitors to parking, including the newly-opened, state-of-the-art Goodale Garage. Additionally, the FCCFA plans to begin installing several pieces of exterior art.

“When the expansion and renovation concludes next year, the streetscape work will wrap the whole project with a level of detail that will say ‘it’s completed,'” Loversidge said.

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