Victory City


50 Years Planning the Future

Hyde Park Man Creates 'Utopia'

By Robert M. Elkins, The Cincinnati Enquirer, June 28, 1987

Orville Simpson II, 64, lives in a four-story apartment house in Hyde Park where he plans a city with a population equal that of Dayton, Ohio, in a wide building as tall as the Empire State Building.

He calls it Victory City. Its seven contiguous sections, each 102 stories high, would be on 2-1/4 acres and house 262,000 people. A golf course, stadium, lake, forest and farms would be outside the complex.

"I got the idea when Cincinnati was tearing down the slums in the West End about 1932-33 to build Laurel Homes," Simpson said. "I thought it was wasteful to let the homes deteriorate, then tear them down, the rebuild. Three losses — all under individual management.

"I thought there should be one large building built with quality and that, under professional management, it would last indefinitely."

He has worked on so many details in the last 50 years that he can't remember all the statistics and has to consult large sketches, floor plans and artists' renderings leaning against the walls of his modest bachelor apartment.

He also has a scale model of his city and a model of what he calls a "splinter elevator building." Residents would transfer from express to individual elevators or escalators to get to all 102 stories.

Electric carts would move people through halls.

"When people ask me what I do, I tell them I plan the city of the future," Simpson said. "Been doing it since I was 13."

Actually, though, he makes his living as a private investor. Simpson said he has done well trading stocks and bonds.

Before finishing high school, he joined the Army, serving in Europe during World War II. When he got out, "I held 23 jobs the first 16 years."

When Cincinnati was buying superblocks in the West End, he worked as a city acquisition clerk and attended University of Cincinnati Evening College. He studied principles of real estate, business law and economics.

Now he's sponsoring a contest among UC architecture undergraduates to design the "utopian city of the future."

His Victory City Foundation put up $4,250, and he personally donated $1,000.

Architecture Professor Dennis Alan Mann is administrator of the contest, which probably will take a year to complete.

"It's interesting to me that in architecture and planning, it has been traditional to design utopian schemes," Mann said.

For instance, the late architect Frank Lloyd Wright proposed a mile-high building, Mann said. And architect and visionary Paolo Soleri is building a city called Arcosanti, near Scottsdale, Arizona.

"It's a scaled-down version of very immense buildings he's designed," Mann said.

'Living in a Resort'

Simpson's Victory City is named for what he calls a victory of truth over mythology.

Fifth-year UC architecture student Tom Sheehan recently did a sketch of the rear of the city. Robert Sawtell, a 23-year-old Cincinnati artist, sketched the front.

"It will be like living in a resort hotel the year round," Simpson said of his creation

According to a booklet he wrote, all transactions would be through the one bank in the city, not by money. Rent would be deducted automatically, and pay would come automatically from an employer's bank balance.

None of the apartments would have kitchens, but linked to the main structure would be seven 17-story buildings, each containing three cafeterias. One cafeteria would feed 13,000 people in three hours. Food would be supplied from seven factory-sized kitchens. […]

Metal Furniture

No wood would be used inside or outside Victory City. Outer walls would be sun-screen glass. Interior walls would be poured concrete, but some would be removable insulated metal panels.

The city would have both a traditional school system and another where students could move to a higher grade without passing an exam.

"You find often that societies that people dream up require a certain type of person to live there," Mann said. "It's as if the designer is saying, 'If you live there, you have to live in my world.' Most utopian schemes that have been tried failed because of those reasons. The concept does not accept idiosyncrasies."

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