March 13, 2023 Posted by Pete Scott

Crafting Community from Brownfields

4th+5th Apartments Corner

In neighborhoods around the country, cracks in the urban fabric have appeared where manufacturing once took place. These brownfields have eroded local vitality, health and wellness, and access to physical and social resources.

With the decline of urban and suburban manufacturing, communities are looking to brownfield remediation to mend their communities and champion health, resiliency, and equity. State governments recognize their role in remediation and actively fund projects that strengthen community health and sustainability. The public funding opportunities bring mixed-use projects and affordable housing initiatives to reactivate the community without displacing current residents.

Roadmap From Remediation to Design

Our goal in projects with remediation is to examine the techniques used to remove or reduce pollutants and the site’s context to create impactful design solutions that creatively address the economic, social, and environmental challenges surrounding each development.

  • Remediation. The amount of cleanup required also depends on how the site will be reused, with more oversight required for housing where residents spend a lot of time at home every day. This remediation comes in many forms through excavation, capping the ground soil, and abatement, and it can influence the vital systems of the building itself. Awareness of the unique project needs early is critical to success.
  • Site Context. Neighborhood analysis is used to identify existing buildings, neighborhood development, circulation, and ecological conditions around the site. This information relates to population demographics, infrastructure, the site’s environment, and how all play a part in the design that elevates the project’s character to connect to the existing neighborhood.
  • Program and Design. The use and design of each space are created with remediation and neighborhood context in mind. Particularly for publicly funded projects, it is crucial to identify design opportunities for a cohesive community that enhances residents’ pride in their neighborhoods.

Several of our mixed-use multifamily projects with Thrive Companies aim to create revitalized sites, strong communities, and one-of-a-kind experiences for residents. These projects are some of the most exciting developments in Central Ohio and include 4th & 5th, Quarry Trails, Grandview Crossing, and Jeffrey Park.

Preliminary analysis of the exitings neigborhood conditions around the 4th & 5th project site

Diagrammatic development of the 4th & 5th's program, circulation, scale, and access

Along the 4th Street corridor, proportions of the neighborhood’s 3-story duplexes with porches are brought into 4th & 5th's design to connect it to the existing architectural context.

4th & 5th

Located on the site of a former automobile parts manufacturing plant, the 3.5 acres received a Clean Ohio Grant from Ohio Public Works for brownfield redevelopment. The land was remediated and capped to reduce exposures and prevent the spread of contamination. In Addition to treating the soil, under-slab ventilation was added to the building’s design to prevent the buildup of gases within the interior environment. The EPA visited the site daily to monitor construction and test standing water.

In the post-war economy, automobile design was influenced by the optimism of the time and the exploration of materials. In a nod to this era, the south building’s facade pulls from mid-century modern design cues with clean lines, large windows, and indoor-outdoor living. Perched on top of the parking garage is the residential clubhouse with a pool that takes advantage of the spectacular view of downtown Columbus.

Along the 4th Street corridor, proportions of the neighborhood’s 3-story duplexes with porches help differentiate between each townhome and connect to the existing architectural context. The project’s design splits the massing into a North and South building, allowing east/west access through the site and parking garage. The buildings are reconnected on the east and west sides by a port cochere and a steel pedestrian bridge on the 5th floor.

The corner of 4th & 5th with the projects iconic facade

4th+5th Apartments lobby

4th+5th Apartments elevation with proportions drawn from the neighborhood’s 3-story duplexes with porches

4th+5th Apartments with bridge over access drive to split the building's massing

4th+5th Apartments rooftop residential amenities with pool

4th+5th Apartments North Corner

Quarry Trails

The Quarry Trails mixed-use development is located on the site of the largest contiguous limestone quarry in the United States, having operated since the turn of the century. The project was supported through Community Reinvestment Area and New Community Authority designations that provide tax abatements for remediation. The mixed-use development uses 80 acres within the 807-acre site that boasts new bike and walking trails, a dog park, waterfall, and access to kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and fishing, making it an extremely unique environment for residents and guests.

Within the development, our team designed the retail buildings, resident’s clubhouse, and multifamily housing at the southern gateway to the new Quarry Trails Metro Park. Within the context of the park and the focus on adventure and the natural features, the buildings are inspired by the Scandinavian idea of “hygge” — shaping a cozy and comfortable place in the wild landscape — featuring stone and wood materials and recognizable residential forms. Large windows and modern geometry dominate the spaces, bringing the outside in.

Walkway from Quarry Trails Metro Park to the residential clubhouse with patio overlooking the landscape

Great room lounge inside the Quarry Trails clubhouse

Quarry Trails multifamily buildings are inspired by the Scandinavian idea of “hygge”

Perched overlooking the Quarry Trails Metro Park, the retail buildings feature wide vistas and patio space

Quarry Trails coffee-to-cocktail bar, located in the retail building

Quarry Trails fitness center located in the retail building

Quarry Trails coffee-to-cocktail bar, located in the retail building

Grandview Crossing

The 55-acre Grandview Crossing mixed-use development in Grandview Heights and the City of Columbus had various industrial and commercial uses, including a landfill, railroad, and motel. The patchwork of land use allowed for taller buildings constructed closer to the railroad tracks. In contrast, once cleared and capped, the landfill was designed for smaller buildings, leading to a vibrant mixed-use development with apartments, office space, hotel, retail, and covered parking. It was awarded Ohio’s Transformational Mixed-Use Development (TMUD) tax credit.


Armed with remediation strategies, contextual information, design, and proven project history, our team creates solutions that create or reclaim local vitality. These innovative spaces resonate with neighborhood demographics, culture, and values to create equitable, healthy, and resilient ecosystems for communities.

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