30 Projects from 30 Years: Cincinnati’s Smale Riverfront Park

September 19, 2017

While most of our projects significantly enhance the beauty of a project site, perhaps no other project saw a greater transformation than along the Ohio River in Cincinnati with the addition of the Smale Riverfront Park. Aquatic Design & Engineering (ADE) studio director JT Toavs shares his perspective in working on this nationally-recognized park for another project reflection as part of our ongoing blog series celebrating our 30th anniversary.

I look back on this project with a lot of fun memories. Working with the great team from Sasaki Associates out of Boston, ADE started the design for the first phase in 2007, then jumped back in for the last two phases in 2010 and 2011 before the park gradually started opening in 2012 and completed in 2015. Having such a long lead time gave us the chance to really get to know the team we were working with and the clients we were serving as we moved from one project phase into the next. We also had opportunities during several phases to use new underwater LED lighting and fountain nozzle technology.

Spread over 32 acres, the park itself is an incredible achievement for the landscape architects who were given the task of creating a grand civic space open to the public. Comparing the “Before” and “After” photos is really incredible. What used to be run down parking lots between stadiums was re-purposed into a riverfront destination unto itself; an entire four-block corridor of fun, lively activity highlighted with playgrounds and several world class water features between the city’s two great stadiums, The Great American Ball Park (home of the Cincinnati Reds) and Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Cincinnati Bengals).

We were so proud to be able to add a number of special and unique water features to this park. Phase 1 included an interactive water feature as well as a grand stair flanked by stepped water cascades on both sides. On the upper side of the stairway, we designed a series of overhanging decks that provided an opportunity for water curtains to rain into pools below. Phase 3 included an interactive water feature with a tidal effect, while Phase 4 mirrored the first phase’s features, but was located on the other side of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, which is a historic landmark worthy of a sight-seeing trip by itself.

For more about the Smale Riverfront Park, visit our project page.