Arena District Master Plan

Arena District Master Plan Columbus, Ohio

Services Provided

Master Planning
Urban Design
Entertainment District Design
Public Engagement

People Involved

Timothy Schmalenberger
Jeffrey Pongonis
Chris Hermann
Karen McCoy
John Petrushka
Tony Roell


2010 Harrison W. Smith Award for Urban Design by the Columbus Downtown Commission
2002 Columbus Landmarks Foundation James B. Recchie Design Award
2000 City of Columbus Department of Trade and Development - PlanIt Columbus MD Portman Award for Best Overall Planning Project
1998 Ohio Chapter ASLA Merit Award
International Masonry Institute – Ohio Golden Trowel Award

A once vacant brownfield is now Columbus, Ohio's thriving regional sports and entertainment district.

MKSK has been the master planner and designer for the Arena District in downtown Columbus. Since 2000, the Master Plan has served as the guiding development strategy for a vibrant, new downtown entertainment district. Designed around the Nationwide NHL Arena, the district features the nightlife corridor Ludlow Alley, a variety of restaurants and residential living options, year-round indoor and seasonal outdoor concert venues, and Huntington Park minor league AAA ballpark.

The urban district—now a thriving economic engine as a regional sports and year-round entertainment destination—has resulted in more than $1 Billion in private investments. The Arena District is a model success story in the country's growing urban revitalization trend and a great case study for other cities planning their own downtown projects.


The master plan includes a number of unique streetscape and gateway design features to mesh the new district with the existing urban fabric and creates gateways to define the district. The primary vision of the Streets and Plazas Plan was to create an urban village that brings together streets, sidewalks, pedestrian plazas, and buildings that all work to enhance and blend in with the surroundings. 

Within the district, two relocated road bridges have been adaptively reused as pedestrian bridges to connect the district with the North Market, a historic public food market, and the city's convention center. To the south a new urban park and green space, McFerson Commons, connects the district to the Scioto River.

To the southeast, a larger-than-life illuminated billboard announces the district's namesake and marks the southern threshold of the District and gateway into downtown. Gateways are evoked by brick paved streets throughout. Design standards were established for the roadways, sidewalks, finish grades, and materials throughout the project site.

The overall district aesthetic is enhanced by careful, thoughtful selection of site materials, furnishings, custom lighting, and environmental graphics. Full design services have been performed from design through construction documentation and observation.