Thursday, June 15, 2006
Paula Meseroll

Four design teams have been selected to advance to Stage II of the Connective Corridor design competition. The competition, which is being sponsored by National Grid, will select a final design team that will be recommended to Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll to become the designer of the Connective Corridor.

The Connective Corridor is a community-wide project to create a center for the arts and culture in Syracuse by designing a landscape and transit system to link the people and activities of the University Hill and downtown. When completed, the Corridor will feature a vibrant pedestrian and bicycle pathway with distinctive landscaping, lighting, benches, historical information and public art spaces. An accompanying public shuttle bus route will be offered free of charge to riders commuting between cultural venues, shops, hotels and Syracuse University. Time Warner Cable has joined the project to offer features such as interactive kiosks, Internet connectivity and public service announcements.

The four design teams that advanced are led by architectural firms Deborah Berke & Partners, Field Operations, the Rockwell Group and Sasaki Architects, and were chosen from an original field of 10 applicants. Each team includes architects, urban planners, civil engineers and other design professionals.

“The Connective Corridor will be a new, innovative pathway that will connect Syracuse University’s and downtown Syracuse’s arts institutions, entertainment venues and public spaces,” says Syracuse University Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “It is an unprecedented collaborative effort that is bringing together Syracuse’s public, private, community and business sectors to strengthen the community, connect residents with our cultural venues and promote further economic development. It’s exciting to have such a wide array of talented and creative firms working with us to develop a vision for the Corridor, and I very much look forward to seeing the design ideas and concepts these teams create.”

“As the process for the Connective Corridor advances, we are seeing the momentum really start to build,” says Mayor Driscoll. “The selection of these four design teams is another step toward the link between Syracuse University and downtown Syracuse. I look forward to seeing the concepts and designs they create to improve the vibrancy of our city.”

In Stage II, each team will participate in a planning exercise to gauge the vision it will bring to the project. Each team will develop a master plan for the Corridor and a phasing plan in line with current funding.

“The purpose of the design competition is to determine which of the four firms can produce the best vision for the Corridor,” says Casey Jones, design competition advisor. “Each of them is a highly respected, nationally recognized firm. The question is, which one can come up with the most compelling solution, given the parameters and requirements of the project?”

The teams will have until Aug. 15 to prepare and submit their designs to the selection committee for consideration. Their concepts will be exhibited at the Everson Museum of Art in September, and the design teams will make public presentations at a Sept. 21 symposium at the Everson. A finalist will be announced later in the fall.

Serving on the selection committee 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 the City of Philadelphia’s 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.

To garner public input about the Connective Corridor, Syracuse University hosted six public sessions attended by more than 300 participants. The public comments, along with government requirements and project goals, are being included in a competition brief given to all of the design teams.

The design teams are in Syracuse for a daylong briefing today to review the project’s objectives and tour the Connective Corridor area.

The Connective Corridor is being created through a combination of public and private funds. U.S. Rep. James Walsh has secured $5.36 million in federal transportation funding for the initiative. U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton have secured $4 million in federal transportation funding for the Corridor project and an additional $4 million for the construction of an intermodal facility at the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. National Grid is supporting the project as lead corporate partner with a $1 million economic development grant.

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