Syracuse University, City of Syracuse, federal representatives announce start of Connective Corridor design competition
Syracuse University, City of Syracuse, federal representatives announce start of Connective Corridor design competitionMarch 31, 2006Paula Meserollpcmesero@syr.edu
Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor, U.S. Sen. Charles A. Schumer (at left), U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Rep. James T. Walsh and Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll Friday announced the start of the design competition for the Connective Corridor. They also announced that Time Warner Cable is joining the effort as technology partner, providing the capability to offer WIFI Internet access, kiosks and other technology-based activities along the corridor route.
The Connective Corridor is being created through a combination of public and private funds. Rep. Walsh secured $3.5 million in federal highway funding and $2 million in transportation funding for the initiative. Sens. Schumer and Clinton have secured $4 million in funding for capital improvements along the Connective Corridor and an additional $4 million for the construction of an intermodal facility at the Syracuse Center of Excellence. National Grid is supporting the project with a $1 million economic development grant approved by the New York State Public Service Commission’s Economic Development Plan.
“The Connective Corridor project will symbolically and functionally link the educational and cultural institutions on University Hill with downtown Syracuse and the rest of the community,” Walsh says. “I am eager to see how each design team incorporates the goals of expanded transportation opportunities, improved public utilities, better signage and welcoming streetscapes into their final design proposal.”
“This sweeping project is going to be the centerpiece of Syracuse’s downtown economic development for years to come, and that’s why getting the federal funding was so important,” Schumer says. “The Connective Corridor will be the tie that binds the University and the city together, bringing new energy to Syracuse and all of Central New York. Tomorrow, we begin making this vision a reality.”
“The vision of the Connective Corridor to link University Hill with downtown Syracuse is an important and exciting development project,” Clinton says. “The federal funding we secured in the transportation reauthorization bill will help revive these neighborhoods and improve the transportation efficiency in downtown Syracuse. I look forward to watching the design and construction move forward and commend everyone involved for their hard work and vision.”
The design competition marks the beginning of a collaborative partnership among SU, the city and many other organizations to transform the University Hill and downtown Syracuse into a center for arts and culture. In December 2005, the city and the University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that paved the way for the design competition.
“This historic MOU between the City of Syracuse and Syracuse University has created a new template for private/public partnerships in creating economic development opportunities in the community,” says Chancellor Cantor. “We’ve also had numerous conversations with community groups and neighborhood organizations, elected officials and city officials. This MOU represents an action plan for carrying out our shared vision for the Connective Corridor. The MOU agreement — as well as the design competition itself — are truly works of collaboration in the best sense of the word.”
“I’m proud to stand with Chancellor Cantor today as we take another step along this historic path,” Driscoll says. “The design competition is another step forward in the effort to connect the University and downtown, and along the way build a stronger, more vibrant city. In the year ahead, our community will see four exciting designs for how the corridor might emerge. This process will not only offer new looks for certain city streets, but it also is a real sign that our university and city are collaborating in ways to benefit the entire city and the wider region.”
The design competition will include up to four professional design teams comprising landscape architects, urban planners, civil engineers and other design professionals. With the publication on March 13 of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in the New York State Contract Reporter, design firms are invited to submit their qualifications for consideration. Once the design teams have been selected, they will have a period of time to formulate their designs, which will then be exhibited at the Everson Museum of Art.
Guiding the design competition is an eight-person selection committee named by Syracuse University and the City of Syracuse. Committee members are Kathleen Callahan and Van Robinson, at-large members of the Syracuse Common Council; Tim Carroll, director of city operations; Maxine Griffith, former executive director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and secretary for strategic planning; Marilyn Higgins, vice president for economic development for National Grid; Mark Robbins, dean of the SU School of Architecture; Mary Robison, Syracuse city engineer; and Marilyn Jordan Taylor, partner-in-charge for urban design and planning for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP.
Once the design teams have been selected, they will formulate their designs over the summer months. Their concepts will be exhibited at the Everson from August through September. The public will be invited to view the proposed designs and participate in a public symposium on the different interpretations of the Connective Corridor. The symposium is planned for mid-September at the Everson. The selection committee will hold final interviews with design teams in late September. The finalist will be named in Fall 2006.
Public input has been an important part of the Connective Corridor process from its inception, according to Chancellor Cantor. “Unlike other design competitions, we have held our public input sessions before the start of the competition,” she says. “We have had hundreds of people from all backgrounds participate in the sessions, offering their thoughts and opinions. The design teams will be able to use that information in creating their vision of the Connective Corridor.”
Plans for the corridor include a proposed public walkway, bicycle path and shuttle bus circuit with improved lighting and landscaping, benches, wireless Internet access, signs identifying places of cultural and historical interest, bus shelters and venues for public art. The corridor will link the University with downtown Syracuse and the many art institutions, entertainment venues and public spaces along the way.
“The Connective Corridor will be a spark plug for new investment and new urbanism in our city,” says Marilyn Higgins, vice president for economic development for National Grid. “It will change the way we experience our historical assets and create a welcoming environment for the smart young scientists and artists who will make this economy vibrant in the years to come.”
As technology partner, Time Warner Cable will provide wireless connectivity and interactive kiosks along the corridor route. “We look forward to lending our technology, our expertise and our enthusiasm to this project, and congratulate Chancellor Cantor and all those here today who have had the vision and the foresight to bring us together,” says Time Warner Cable Syracuse Division President Mary Cotter.
County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro says, “This exciting partnership for the Connective Corridor will bring talent and ideas to a creative culmination to further join the University with our Syracuse and Onondaga County community and encourage economic development, increased tourism and cultural enjoyment. We thank all the partners involved, and especially Time Warner Cable, for their commitment to ensuring the success of the project.”
“Our association is very excited to be working together with Syracuse University and the City of Syracuse to make the vision of the Connective Corridor become a reality,” says Alan Rothschild, president of the East Genesee Regent Association, who will serve on a Connective Corridor steering committee. “For the past 33 years, our group has worked to maintain and enhance the East Genesee Street Corridor into what it is becoming today — one of the most active and vital areas in our community. We are very pleased that we will be having an integral role in the planning and implementation of this very significant project for Syracuse.”