July 02, 2013

Architecture students explore future of I-81 downtown

A joint design studio explores options for I-81, the highway that runs through the center of downtown Syracuse.

Syracuse University School of Architecture and UPSTATE: a Center for Design, Research, and Real Estate present “Alt-81,” an exhibition of work by Syracuse University students exploring post-2017 possibilities for the I-81 corridor that runs through downtown Syracuse. The exhibition is the result of two Syracuse University courses taught this spring. A joint research project, both courses addressed the question of what kind of development along the I-81 corridor would be best positioned to serve Syracuse and how the future of the viaduct can play a role in transforming the city. The exhibition will be on display at The Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St., Syracuse, NY.  in the windows on W. Fayette Street through the end of August.


A site of intense interest, the I-81 viaduct reaches the end of its functional life in 2017. New York State Department of Transportation officials are getting closer to deciding the future of this stretch of the expressway, including rebuilding the section of highway or replacing the elevated viaduct with a boulevard. An open house hosted by the state Department of Transportation and the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council is scheduled for May 21 at the Oncenter in Syracuse. Traffic studies and proposals will be presented.


The design studio led by Jonathan Solomon, Associate Dean at Syracuse Architecture, and Joe Sisko, Assistant Director of UPSTATE involved six design teams testing opportunities for the corridor and adjacent sites. The studio included four workshops with the participation of city and state officials, experts on the viaduct, transportation planners, architects, and urban designers. Projects for both the neighborhood and the upstate region, including retail, entertainment, open space, and housing proposals were presented. A real estate seminar taught by UPSTATE: Director Marc Norman and Research Fellow Peggy Tully worked in parallel, engaging students from the School of Architecture and Whitman School of Management, tackling the issue of funding development in and around the corridor. Students looked at precedents, funding mechanisms, ownership structures, and the redevelopment potential of the surrounding area.