Fifty on Fifth

An Icon for Future Growth

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 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 lot 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 more as a barrier within the city.

The Solution

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 its base, ultimately connecting through the site. Our approach allows the tower to give back to the public by creating an extension under the building through Fountain Square, physically providing a pedestrian connection across three blocks. The shape of the tower responds to existing adjacent monoliths and 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.



Master Planning, Site Planning, Architecture


Retail Center, Mixed-use, Multi-family Residential




Cincinnati, Ohio

Project Lead

Brett Kratzer

Project Team

Dean Lutton, Ryan Johnson, Corey Mai, Brian Murray