Through innovative urban design and planning we can spark positive, lasting change. We can ignite new opportunities by creating a vibrant, connected, active epicenter for the future growth of Cincinnati’s core.
Master Planning, Architecture, Branding
Mixed-Use, Retail, Workplace, Multifamily
Proximately located within the core of the central business district of Cincinnati, the existing Macy’s department store decided not to renegotiate their lease as part of the company’s 100 store closings nationwide. This left the owners with a challenge in what to do with the vacant space. Proposals for the site in the early 1990s imagined the site as having the tallest tower in Cincinnati, and at one time was considered the most desirable site in the USA. However, the 3-story structure as built today was designed to hold up to a 22-story tower above a portion of the department store. The current configuration of the department store does not allow for any sense of public interaction in and through the site.
The highly active and popular Fountain Square provides a great deal of energy surrounding the site, and new developments with similar activity and energy exist directly to the west of this site. Unfortunately, as currently conceived, the department store acts as a barrier within the city.
Utilizing the energy surrounding the site, a new diagram arises allowing a more interactive and “public friendly” approach to urban design and development within the core of downtown, not currently present within the existing city fabric. These existing influences start to sculpt and shape the base of the tower and allow the public to begin to interact with it, ultimately connecting through the site. Our approach allows the tower to give back to the public by creating an extension through the building to Fountain Square, physically providing a pedestrian connection across three blocks.
The site of existing three-story, 250,000 SF abandoned Macy’s department store was designed as a singular, inward development, turning its back to the city; neglecting urban edges and street activity; an outdated model. Naturally, the site wants to respond to the urban influences — the forces of its surrounding context. Forces from Fountain Square are received and reciprocated. Forces from the current and future energy at the corner of 5th & Race Street are received and reciprocated. The power of connectivity wants to join the forces, creating a fluid movement and natural destination. Broader contextual forces begin to shape the building’s base — opening multiple connective threads throughout the city and community — tying the area together.
With the building taking shape, uses are now responding. Retail, restaurant, and entertainment create the foundation at levels 1-3. In response to the connecting forces, a carpet of lush vegetation rises up and over the lower level of retail, reinforcing the newly created destination. An umbrella of office at levels 3-4 connects the two retail base structures, establishing the foundation for the tower above. Residential tower rises above the base. The natural forces of the connective threads have shifted the building geometry providing breathing room between the surrounding towers and accentuated its iconic presence. Retail/Entertainment, Class A Office, and Luxury Hotel & Residential.
The shape of the tower responds to existing adjacent monoliths, allows the tower to breathe within the site, and helps with daylighting and views into and out of the building. By addressing simple public needs with good planning practices, a new icon is formed for the City of Cincinnati.
The blending together and integration of multiple uses into a space that through composing form, connectivity, and engagement bring people together in a stimulating sequence of settings that encourages connectivity and creates a lasting bond with the public. At its very minimum, mixed-use creates opportunities for growth. At its very best, mixed-use design evolves — threading complex components in a simple presentation that provides vitality, energy, and experiences for life.