Experience Design – The Dot, Cleveland Flats East Bank
Cleveland has a long history as a town divided. East siders and west siders loudly proclaim the superiority of their respective locales. Downtown is a series of fractured hot spots. Gateway, Playhouse Square, The Flats, The Warehouse District, and this extends out to areas like Ohio City, Tremont, and Gordon Square. For a city with such beautiful bridgework, it’s ironic that this segregation takes place. Our concept turns the concept of “bridging communities” into more than a metaphor.
We translated the form, impact, and shape of the overhead bridge structure into something echoed on street level. This area is a hub of transportation — the bridge, the rail in The Flats, pedestrian and car traffic — all ultimately funneling down to the river. Using the Main Avenue Bridge as a point of inspiration, we created lighting elements that mimic the bridge’s construction components. This lighting is applied at consistent intervals along the entire path, and includes treatments for walls as well as sidewalks.
The use of blue is a nod to the bridge overhead, and white is used for both stark contrast and as a wayfinding element. The concept is similar to that of rail lines. In this case, following the “blue line” leads down to the river, and the “white line” leads back up the hill to the Warehouse district.
The lighting is transformative as well. LED bulbs allow for lights to change to any color in the spectrum. This transformation can be timed and sequenced, and each light can be controlled individually or as an entire group. For example, a slow color change from white to blue could be set to change over the span of an hour, then sequenced over the entire span of lights up and down the hill. Such a subtle change enhances wayfinding and creates a subtle, amorphic effect for the entire path. In contrast, lights can be sequenced to change and flash rapidly, creating attention and excitement for special events.
The top of the hill features wall lighting with large backlit graphic panels. These panels include artwork that juxtaposes Cleveland’s rich industrial heritage with its modern evolution as a medical, technology, and artistic hub. This is a celebration of both the history and current successes of the city in the same location, visually bridging the gap between past and present.
Branding the path bridging the two districts The CUT. This is in homage to Cleveland Union Terminal, which was the hub for all railroad traffic during that time period. In this instance, The CUT is also a pedestrian and automotive “cut-through” that connects the Flats and the Warehouse District.
The final component is The Dot, a large rondure steel sculpture centered in the roundabout at the bottom of the hill. Culturally, Cleveland is an extremely diverse and well-rounded community. Conceptually, The Dot represents the shift away from experiencing the city as isolated sections towards a more holistic, participatory experience “in the round.”
When viewed from above, The Cut leads to The Dot — completing the exclamation point. This symbol is an appropriate representation of the vibrance of not only the two connected districts, but the renaissance of Cleveland as a whole.