Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I am all for placemaking and I agree that universities should make a greater effort to make sure residents, students and visitors know its defined boundaries. However, I think there are a couple things a little off with plan proposed by OSU students.

First, the coined name "Unidentity" is atrocious. I get where it came from and good for them for trying to be clever but using a prefix that means "opposite of" and "not" when trying to create identity isn't the smartest move.

Second, the arch is already taken by the Short North. Creating a unique identity means using symbols that are not already adopted by other entities. Sure, the SN does not have exclusive rights to the arch but when the areas are so close to one another they may want to try something more distinctive.

I give the students props for trying to create a more clearly defined campus. The banners are a great start but there are many other options to consider. I would suggest these good folks look to other colleges located in urban environments to see what they have done. George Washington University right smack dab in the middle of DC has done a great job.

Unidentity gives face to University District
By: Cara Shirley
Posted: 2/19/08
Block O banners suspended from lamp posts and archways curving over streets might adorn the University District by 2009.

This is part of a new plan developed by a group of Ohio State students. They call it the "Unidentity Project," an effort to define the boundaries of the University District and to make people feel more welcome when they enter it.

"I believe building the arches will identify and consolidate the community, instill pride and strengthen the community," said Nick Uhas, project director.

Uhas said the University District consists of OSU's campus and the residential and business areas that surround it. The north border is Arcadia Avenue, the south border is fifth avenue, the East border is the railroad tracks and the west border is the Olentangy River.

The group said its motives for creating the project are evident in the name it selected. "Unidentity" is a combination of the words "university" and "identity."

The arches were initially Uhas' idea and the banners were Taylor Meadows.' Because they are both members of the Undergraduate Student Government, they combined their goals into one project and gathered support from additional USG members along the way.

The project outline, which they began in the fall, designates that banners run along the lamp posts on High Street and Lane Avenue, while the arches will be constructed in four different locations on the north, south, east and west borders of the district, said Brennan Duty, USG member and co-project director.

Uhas thinks branding the edges of the University District with arches will help students and residents better understand the boundary locations.

After talking with fellow OSU students, Uhas said he realized, "there was confusion about where the University District stops and starts."

To gather more precise data on what students know and do not know about the district, Uhas created a survey. Jerry Dunleavy, a USG member helping with the project, sent out the survey to 10,000 students through Webmail last week.

The results are still coming in, but out of the 250 students who have responded so far, 61 percent do not know where the district starts and stops. The survey revealed that 75 percent of students would like a welcoming structure.

Once they finish gathering the survey data, Duty said those involved in the project will develop "a business plan" and present it to OSU's Campus Partners and Columbus City Council.

Because the lamp posts on High Street and Lane Avenue are owned by OSU, the university has the power to approve the banners. The arches, though, must be approved and funded by the city of Columbus, Duty said.

Duty said constructing arches around the University District has been proposed in the past by city officials, "but no one spearheaded it." However, the funds set aside for the arches still exist and are waiting to be spent, he said.

Uhas said he is so adamant about the project that he will make it happen this time around.

He said since the student population is contributing $250,000 a day to the part of the University District surrounding campus, the city should support the project.

"Look what Ohio State does for Columbus. We want Columbus to do something for Ohio State," Uhas said.


Walker Evans said...

Columbus was once known fairly well on a national level as "The Arch City" as we had wooden and metal arches that spanned High Street all throughout the city. Take a look at pretty much any historic photos of Columbus from around the turn of last century and you'll see our old arches. They were eventually all torn down.

Just because the Short North was the first neighborhood to put them back up doesn't mean that OSU shouldn't also do it. I'd love to see illuminated arches all over Columbus again to give us something unique.

We need a national identity.

cmhindependent said...

In this situation the arch is being used to define the college campus boundaries and not to help push an identity for the entire city.

I am also familiar with Columbus' past reputation as Arch City but I really am not in favor of widening the installation of arches all across the city especially since many other cities including neighboring Gahanna use arches as their city symbol as well as unique architectural accents.