I had planned on waiting until Thursday to write a quick post about the skywalk debate/panel discussion set to take place on Wednesday evening in the Underdog. That was until I woke up this morning and saw the article on cleveland.com by Steve Litt about an effort to hide the existing Amtrak Station (Photo, Click Here, Courtesty of Cleveland.com) with (drum-roll please) landscaping.
While it would be difficult to build a credible argument that the existing Amtrak station is a beautiful piece of modern architecture from the 70′s, I find it hard to believe that landscaping is our best option for dealing with the complaint from the Global Center for Health Innovation – GCHI – (formerly known as the Medical Mart and Convention Center) that the Amtrak station is an eyesore as seen from its truly remarkable new grand ballroom. In an urban environment, adjacent what will likely become an important lakefront piece of property very soon, it seems unlikely that we should deploy the same design device (landscaping) oftentimes used to mask suburban office buildings from the parking lots that serve them. I really believe that the importance of this site warrants something with a little more impact than landscaping. Unless you are talking about landscaping at the scale of Weiss Manfredi’s Olympic Sculpture Park (photo – CLICK HERE), couldn’t we begin to consider tackling the various issues at the site collectively instead of individually. While the context of the site has changed quite a bit since the 2009 Cleveland Design Competition, with the GCHI now complete with its remarkable views to Lake Erie, perhaps there is a discussion worth entertaining about how we get from downtown Cleveland to the Lakefront, create an appropriate civic transit gateway with a new multi-modal transportation center, all while ensuring the GCHI’s connection to the Lakefront is enhanced. I’m sure landscaping will improve the view from the GCHI ballroom, but I think the City and the GCHI deserve something spectacular, not just better.