Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

-OH I-75 Roadtrip

Zeigler House – Frankfort KY (1909)

Frank Lloyd Wright Architect

509 Shelby Street, Frankfort KY

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This is the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Kentucky built in his lifetime. Located in a residential neighborhood close to the Kentucky State Capital building, this Prairie style house is beautifully maintained. The front is visible from the street, and the contrast to the contemporary victorian counterparts on the block is striking.

Occupied as a private residence.

This is the 150th Frank Lloyd Wright building I have visited.


Lindner Athletics Center, University of Cincinnati (2006)

Bernard Tschumi, Architect

University of Cincinnati Campus, Cincinnati OH

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Visited September 1, 2013

Initially I wanted to say that this building was wedged in an impossibly tight site between the Nippert football stadium and the Fifth Third Arena (and over the arena’s loading dock). Although factual, it does not feel that way when walking around the building. Tschumi’s curved facade slides in and around the confined space with ease and does not feel compromised.

The triangular gridded mass is lifted lightly by occasional continuations of the triangular structural system that go to grade, providing an open arcade of sorts for pedestrian circulation. The triangular fenestration is actually the negative space left between the structural grid – not punched openings in a wall.

I was not able to go into the building on this trip to take photos, but on previous visits I was able to ascend the grand stairway that goes up through the center of the building. True to Tschumi’s emphasis on Space, Event and Movement, this building captures all three – you will just have to wait for the interior photos to appreciate the experience of the grand stairway…or better yet, go visit it yourself. The University of Cincinnati has an impressive collection of buildings by the Starchitects. Works by Graves, Gehry, Eisenman, Cobb, and Mayne are all within walking distance (Click here for a list of the notable buildings on campus and their designers).

Planning a visit? Stay at the great 21c Museum Hotel downtown, and event in itself. The hotel is adjacent to Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Arts Center.


21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati (2012)

21c Museum Hotel , Deborah Berke Partners  Architects

Metropole Hotel , Joseph G. Steinkamp & Brother Architects

609 Walnut Street, Cincinnati OH

Aerial View and Directions

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Originally constructed as the Hotel Metropole by Joseph G. Steinkamp & Brother Architects in 1912 and added to in 1924, this was one of Cincinnati’s premier hotels. Over the years, it slowly transformed into a low-income apartment building. The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation put together a development plan to renovate the building into a 21c Museum Hotel, the second location in this new art focused luxury hotel chain.

The facade has been renovated and restored bringing back the grandeur of the original. The juxtaposition of Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Art Museum, the “Urban Carpet” rolled up next door, creates an exciting composition for the streetscape. What a perfect pairing, a museum hotel in a historic 100 year old building next to a contemporary art museum by a current superstar architect. And Deborah Berke Partners put their sophisticated and fun aesthetic in the mix and makes it all work together. Building upon the excellence and sucess of the original 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, which was voted one of the top 10 hotels in the world by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine (really!), the Cincinnati hotel I believe lives up to that tradition. Bravo to Deborah Berke Partners for pulling it together and making it happen.

The lobby and other public areas are in fact a fine art museum, with fascinating museum quality artwork displayed throughout.

For more photos and comments of the hotel room and the restaurant Metropole, check out my other blog posts:

21c Museum Hotel Blog Post

Metropole Restaurant Blog Post


John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge (1866)

John A. Roebling, Engineer

Spanning the Ohio River

Cincinnati OH / Covington KY

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In 1866 when the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge opened it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It was completed just a year after Abraham Lincoln’s death.

John A. Roebling was also the designer of the better known Brooklyn Bridge in New York (1883).

Still in use today by both pedestrians and automobiles, it is amazing to think that automobiles were not even around when the bridge was built. Henry Ford did not sell his first car, the Quadricycle, until 1896, and the assembly line for the Model T was first used in 1913 – 47 years after the bridge was built.


The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge (2008)

Daniel Libeskind, Architect

Covington, KY

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Visited January 26, 2013

Just across the river from Cincinnati, at the foot of Roebling’s suspension bridge, is The Ascent. This somewhat squatty spiral building is clad in a Tetris like composition of blue glass and white panels. Behind this architectural skin are 19 stories of residential condominiums, with additional space for parking and amenities.

Unfortunately located slightly behind other taller generic brown brick hotel and office buildings from the river, you have to be on the eastern side of the Cincinnati riverfront to see the dramatic Ascent from across the river. Also unfortunately the facade visible from the river has balconies of different widths tacked on to the outer curved face. I believe the inner curved facade facing downtown Covington is the more interesting facade – and the most hidden until you are right at the building.

From Downtown Cincinnati, you can actually walk across Roebling’s Bridge to visit this monument. Roebling is the engineer that also designed the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge Website


Cincinnati Union Terminal (1933)

Paul Philippe Cret with Fellheimer & Wagner, Architects

1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati OH

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Last Visited March 19 2012

Visible from I-75, you may think this building is the Hall of Justice from the DC Comic’s Justice League – which it did inspire. An image of this building also appeared in the movie Batman Forever as the “Hippodrome”, where Dick Grayson’s family is killed by Two-face.

In reality, it is the Cincinnati Union Terminal for train service in Cincinnati. Designed by Paul Cret, the same beaux arts architect as the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Art Deco facade has bas relief sculptures flanking a huge arched window assembly with a stepped fountain out in front greeting travelers.

Inside, the halfdome lobby is vast and surprisingly colorful, with bold stripes of yellows and oranges in the ceiling, and amazing colored glass mosaic murals, each 22 feet high and 110 feet long depicting the history of Cincinnati.  From the lobby floor you at first do not realize they are composed of thousands of small glass mosaic pieces, but once you realize that, there are all the more impressive.


Carew Tower (1930)

Walter W. Ahlschlager, Architect

W. Fifth Street and Fountain Square, Cincinnati OH

Aerial View and Directions

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Last visited March 19 2012

This 49 story Art Deco/Art Moderne office tower is part of the complex that includes the Netherland Plaza Hotel. Be sure to explore the street level shopping lobby to see the silver leaf ceiling and the colorful Rookwood pottery tile archway surrounds with a bold floral theme.