Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Posts tagged “Cincinnati Architecture

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.


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.


Netherland Plaza Hotel (1931)

Walter W. Ahlschlager, Architect

35 West Fifth Street, Cincinnati OH

Aerial View and Directions

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Last Visited March 18-19, 2012

The Historic Netherland Plaza Hotel Building opened it’s doors on January 28, 1931 to rave reviews. The 800 room Art Deco hotel has one of the most beautiful hotel lobby restaurant/bars anywhere, the Palm Court. Built as part of the Carew Tower Complex, this hotel has hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Elvis, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bing Crosby and John and Jackie Kennedy. Make sure you stop by the consierge station and pick up the “Walking Tour & Pocket History” brochure. Take the meandering path leading up through the Palm Court, Apollo Gallery, Continental Room, Hall of Mirrors, the Julep Room, Pavillion Caprice and the Hall of Nations. Grand staircases, each different, make the “climb” from street level up to the fourth floor Pavillion Caprice a most pleasurable journey. The Pavillion Caprice hosted 16 year old Doris Day’s first professional appearance. Even the coat check room off the lobby has the most interesting art deco door surround.

This is the first building that has a post on all 3 of my blogs, check out the Hotel and Restaurant posts for additional photos of this grand old dame.


Contemporary Arts Center (2003)

Zaha Hadid Architect

44 East 6th Street, Cincinnati, OH

Aerial View and Directions

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Last visited March 19 2012

I have visited the CAC many times while in Cincinnati visiting friends. I cannot believe it has been open almost 10 years. It seems at though I never get great photos for some reason. There are the odd large spherical streetlights seemingly in the way of all exterior shots, not to mention the traffic and trucks stopped on the street. I have posted these from my recent trip hoping they give some impression of the building and space inside.

Zaha’s first building built in the US I think has held up pretty well. It almost seems a little timid now, but that could be that I am so used to it. (I recently visited the now under construction Broad Museum of Art on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing by Zaha. That building looks like it will be a bold jarring presence on campus, the same feeling I remember of the CAC when I first saw it. I will post some progress photos soon) The CAC really fits into the Cincinnati streetscape well.

Inside the museum offers a variety of gallery experiences. Even if you have just a few minutes, you can experience the first floor for free and get a feel for Zaha’s complex angular composition with the floor turning up the wall on the north side.

I stop in every time I am in Cincy, and it still is an exciting experience. I cannot wait to see the completed museum in East Lansing, and experience Zaha’s more mature/developed style in comparison.


Engineering Research Center (1995)

Michael Graves, Architect

University of Cincinnati Campus

Aerial View and Directions

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Last Visited August 28, 2011

The Engineering Research Center is another good Graves building. It if full of his earthy colors and chunky columns and simple building block shapes. The long building facade is broken up into a series of seemingly individual pavillions all in a row. The main section is twice as wide as the others and is more  formal looking with the tall colonnade at the entry level and two rows of short fat columns at the top. This wide pavillion is flanked by several tall narrower pavillions, two on the south side and one on the north side. These boxy bodies with barrel vaulted shoulders, and blocky heads look like old school robots with party hats. Not my favorite Graves Building, but it has a strong presence on campus and is interesting. Next trip I hope I have than just a few minutes and I can walk all the way around and get inside and explore it more.


Vontz Center for Molecular Studies (1999)

Frank Gehry, Architect

University of Cncinnati

3125 Eden Avenue, Cincinnati OH 45267

Aerial View and Map

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Visited August 27, 2011

Gehry’s first “all brick” building stands as a sculpture on the University of Cincinnati’s campus. It is an interesting assembly of  forms with windows applied in various shapes floating or rotated out from the brick skin. From a fountain and lawn on the west side of the building, there is a grand brick stair as wide as the facade leading up to the building. At the top of the stairway, where you would expect a grand entrance,  is a brick wall with a wide window above the top landing with no door. You have to contunue around the building wing to get to a doorway. The grand stairway forms more of a pedestal for a sculpture, not a grand entry for a building. It is an interseting work of art.

Vontz Center Webpage


Two Houses by John C. Senhauser FAIA Architect

Indian Hill, OH

Aerial View Maps: House 1, Lamson-West House

These two houses are directly across the street from each other in a remote location which is pretty hard to find. I have to thank my friends in Cincinnati, not only for telling me about these houses, but also for driving me there.  The “green” roofed Lamson-West house was featured in the Design-Milk site and includes additional great exterior and interior photos. I am looking forward to another trip in the summer so I can see the green roof when it is actually green!

It was also featured in a House Hunters episode of HGTV. It is the first house they visited in the episode. One of the teenage daughter’s reaction driving up to the house was “it is weird”.  At the end of the show, one of the girls said  “its too perfect…especially for us”.  I agree.


Boswell House (1957)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

8805 Camargo Club Drive, Indian Hill, OH 45243

Aerial View Map

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With the leaves off the trees, you can look down into the entry court from the road and get a feeling of the overall layout. In the summer I believe it would be difficult to see anything from the road. The Cincinnati Enquirer posted a narrated slideshow of the house with additional views of the exterior, as well as the interior. This home was on the market for $3.4 million in 2008. The house is in great condition based on photos taken while it was on the market. The kitchen was very sympathetically renovated by Architect John C. Senhauser.

The carport appears to be an addition not by Wright. This is just a gut reaction, as it does not “feel” original to me. It is a separate pavillion with an independent roof,  not an extension of the main house’s hipped roof. The intermediate brick columns are too small and just their existance seems odd.  These vertical “sticks” visually breakup the strong, low horizontal line prominent in the rest of this design.  I would have expected no columns here, providing the gravity defying “floating” feeling of so many other Wright carport roofs (and it is fairly simple to span a two-car space without requiring an intermediate column). I could be wrong, but…..

Many aspects of this house are very similar to the Carl Schultz House in St. Joseph, MI (1957). These are very large, expensive and expansive structures for wealthy clients that Wright designed in his final years. Many of his earlier Usonian homes were of more modest scope (in both size and expense) and used only wood for the ceiling finishes. These later Wright homes are a curious combination of  his Usonian and earlier Prairie style homes. Here Wright has reintroduced plaster ceilings with light colored finishes similar to his great prairie style rooms. This change provides a lighter feel in these large rooms compared to the more cabin-like feeling of the smaller wood sheathed ceilings of the typical Usonian homes.

This is the 144th Frank Lloyd Wright Building I have visited (but who’s counting?).


Boulter House (1954)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

1 Rawson Woods Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45220

Aerial View Map

Angled on a steep corner lot, this house overlooks the house across the street into the Rawson Wood Preserve. Although located in a fairly typical upscale neighborhood subdivision, the Preserve partially surrounds this neighborhood. With the natural planting of the front yard instead of the typical lawn, and the proximity of the Preserve, this house retains the feel of the typically more isolated Usonian house settings.

Complete Photo Archive Here.

This is the 143rd Frank Lloyd Wright Building I have visited (but who’s counting?).