The newly renovated and expanded Washington Park is an important civic space in the heart of Cincinnati that has evolved over the last 150 years to accommodate the needs and aspirations of the community. The latest improvements came as a result of a unique partnership between the Cincinnati Park Board and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC).
Working together, we engaged in a community-based master planning process to create a new plan for the park in 2007. The vision which emerged not only preserved what is unique and special about the park, but also added new amenities to support the revitalization of the neighborhood.
The park was expanded from six to eight acres, adding the “Civic Lawn” – the largest green space in Over-the-Rhine. This expansion also allowed such additional features as a plaza to better link the park with Music Hall, a performance stage, a 450-space underground parking garage, and extensive landscaping.
The new park is a balance of old and new. Existing trees and the pastoral character of the southern half of the park have been preserved, and existing historic columns and walls were salvaged and reused. New columns will match the historic ones and have new Rookwood tile insets. The iconic bandstand in the heart of the park has been restored and the space around it transformed with stone pavers and a canopy of lights. A fenced “dog park” was created and historic artifacts restored. A unique playground features a boardwalk and stage, a sandbox, a canal boat in a water channel and climbing walls based on Cincinnati’s historic architecture. Other elements include groupings of water jets and interactive fountains, a restroom building and a concession building. The park also includes several sustainability/green design features, including the civic green roof on top of the garage, green roofs on all of the new park buildings and dry wells that direct storm water away from the combined sewer system and into the natural gravel and sand layers 25’-30’ below the surface. All of the new amenities have been designed to be respectful of the neighborhood’s historic character. The expansion and renovation of the park was completed in the summer of 2012.