04-12-22 | News

Lucia Smith Nash Walk, Case Western Reserve University

by Staff

Scott© Pease/
Scott© Pease/
Scott© Pease/
Scott© Pease/

The upcoming Issue of Landscape Architect and Specifier News saw many firms submit their projects for feature consideration. This project was not chosen for a Feature in the issue, but we at thought the project deserved to be showcased online . . .

Lucia Smith Nash Walk Cleveland, Ohio Bellflower Court is an alley located on Cleveland's east side within the boundaries of both the University Circle, the city's world-class arts and entertainment district and the campus of the highly respected Case Western Reserve University. 150 years ago, Bellflower Court was a modest utilitarian alley located within the upscale Wade Park residential neighborhood that connected local streets to a string of carriage houses. With the growth of the university, many of the original residential buildings were purchased and preserved retaining much of the neighborhood's visual character but the uses of these residences have been modified to become restaurants, coffee shops, offices and student housing. Although the alley environment was never formally designed, the landscape of the corridor is revered for its "gritty" charm and eclectic nature-and has through the years become a significant university pedestrian thoroughfare.
While desiring to preserve the best qualities of the space, the university's leadership recognized the corridor's potential and therefore commissioned the design team to work with them and key stakeholders to enhance and celebrate the space. Primary users of the corridor include CWRU students, visitors to the district that frequent the L 'Albatross Restaurant, Trentino Restaurant, the Glidden House (historic hotel) and other venues adjacent to the walk and visitors to the University Circle who are exploring and discover the space.

Conceptually the walk itself is designed to be the primary unifying element as a continuous concrete unit paver path, twelve-foot wide and charcoal in color, connecting the campus to the west and student dormitories to the east. As people move through the space, they experience a series of new and unique interconnected spaces that transform the alley from a mere circulation path to a place for gathering, staying, and enjoying.
The Ford Plaza serves as an inviting portal and identifies the Walk. The MSASS steps, previously a block masonry wall, now connect students via a monumental stair from the building's plaza and café space to the walk environment. The Study Garden, which used to be an area for refuse containers now serves as an intimate shaded courtyard for respite and small student gatherings.

The Woodland Garden is located east of a walk intersection at the center of the corridor and is the largest of the Walk's garden spaces. A once residual stand of Austrian Pines has been enhanced to create a powerful garden experience in the center of the campus. Through careful design, the area was further enhanced with groundcovers, native perennial plantings, understory trees and roughhewn black locust bench seating elements set within meandering decomposed granite pathways.

These spaces and many more create moments the walk where learning can occur, relationships are built, and a college community can thrive. The design, aesthetics, and place making of the Nash Walk have finally caught up to its acclaim! Through the help of various stakeholders, a visionary client, and a dedicated design and construction team, the walk has positively evolved to better support it's adjacent uses without erasing its visual and material histories.


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