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City of Columbus

Columbus Commons Park and Bicentennial Pavilion

Project Description

In the heart of downtown Columbus stood a failing, two block long shopping mall. The city purchased the mall and prepared a master plan to redevelop the site. This master plan called for a nine-acre park, the edges of which were to be left relatively clear in expectation that new buildings would eventually be built. Moody Nolan served as architect for all phases of the redevelopment of the site.

Project Stats


Columbus, Ohio

Year of Completion



9 Acres

Project Gallery

Design Features

Located on the site of the former City Center Mall, the new Columbus Commons Park is viewed as a common area for the entire community to enjoy. The nine-acre park includes a grand lawn, walking paths and 12 world-class gardens designed and maintained by the Franklin Park Conservatory. A carousel, outdoor reading room and a café are located at the south end of the park. The park also hosts a wide variety of community events and activities including a weekly farmer’s market, a summer concert series, free fitness classes and an outdoor urban art gallery.

The Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion is an iconic piece of architecture that anchors the park. The pavilion consists of a tensile fabric structure that soars to a heigh of 53 ft. above the stage floor and is approximately 100 ft. wide. The stage area is 60 ft. wide by 80 ft. deep with a back-of-house green room and connection to the Ohio Theatre. The pavilion is flanked by “Jumbo-Tron” screens capable of live video feeds as well as calendar event planning. The flanking screens also house speaker arrays and event lighting.

Phase 1 was demolition of the mall. This was complicated by overhead connectors across two city streets and the fact that there was an underground parking garage that the city wished to retain. Removal of one connector left a large scar in the historic façade of the Lazarus Building that had to be sensitively restored. Elevators and stairs that had previously extended into the mall had to be reworked and enclosed with new structures above.

Phase 2 was creation of the park itself. The new buildings planned at the park edges suggested the concept of parallel walkways with a grand lawn and gardens in the center and green space along the edges set aside for future development. The park includes12 unique gardens, a carousel, an outdoor reading room and a café.

Phase 3 was construction of a band shell—the Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion. This pavilion was planned to be an iconic element within the park. The ultimate design is a free-form tensile fabric structure that soars to 53 feet in height and covers a 60′ x 80′ stage. The pavilion has been a success, drawing evening crowds into the heart of downtown Columbus.

Moody Nolan provided architectural services as part of a design/build team that included construction manager Corna Kokosing and landscape architect the EDGE Group. The team worked closely with park developer Capitol South and development manager the Georgetown Company throughout the demolition of City Center Mall and the creation of the park. The Bicentennial Pavilion was with New York-based FTL Design Engineering Studio.