Case Studies

The Banks – Smale Riverfront Park

Project Team

City of Cincinnati Parks Department


Sasaki Associates

General Contractor:

Monarch Construction Co.


Progressive Construction Services

A stunning transformation of the Cincinnati riverfront began in 2008. The construction started with the new 45-acre Smale Riverfront Park and adjacent 18-acre development known as The Banks. The once dormant land was envisioned to become the region’s new gateway by city and Park Board officials— who began work on the plan in the 1990s. Though construction is continuing, the first features of the new development are open and the area has already drawn hundreds of thousands of new visitors into the downtown corridor—and, according to economists, has pumped tens of millions of dollars into the local economy. Taken together, Smale Riverfront Park and The Banks stretch south from Cincinnati’s Central Business District and west to east between Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ballpark. The features of the new Smale Riverfront Park include interactive fountains, a labyrinth, public art installations, promenades, gardens, tree groves, event lawns, playgrounds, a boat dock and restaurants. The Banks development offers residential units, office space, dining, leisure and entertainment sites. The master plan is anticipated to be completed in multiple phases during a ten to fifteen year period.

The opportunity to redevelop the Cincinnati riverfront arose, in part, because of the ineffectiveness of the 1960’s interstate expressway, Fort Washington Way, which connected I-75 and I-71. Not only did Fort Washington Way deliver inadequate traffic flow, it consumed a huge swath of riverfront acreage and severed access between Downtown Cincinnati from its riverfront. When designing for the riverfront area it had to be designed for the inevitable flooding. To do so, granite was used where damage from flooding and de-icing is a threat. It was important that materials selected minimized the client’s maintenance staff demands and eliminated concerns for short and long term failure. Part of the design included a grand stairway on Walnut Street traversing from Theodore Berry Way to Mehring Way and a bicycle ramp all crafted in granite. Since stairs are hugely important in public spaces, granite was the best option. When you use concrete in a cold climate and need to put salt down, the concrete can deteriorate over time. It will take hundreds of years for granite to wear down.

To date, Coldspring has supplied Prairie Brown Granite. The finishes include Diamond 10, Rock Pitch, Rock Face, and Split. The total quantity is approximately 10,000 cubic feet (approximately 22,000 square feet).

Photo Credit Patrick McCue Photography


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