1819 Innovation Hub | University of Cincinnati

2019 Winner – Building Architecture

Project Narrative

This former Sears Department Store, built in 1928, was a neighborhood icon visited by generations of Cincinnati families. Originally slated for demolition due to failing facades, the current owner had a renewed interest in sustainability and neighborhood preservation. We led the planning effort to adapt the structure into an off-campus classroom/lab facility for academia and industry collaboration.

Our work included full restoration of the art deco inspired tower, while much of the façade required reconstruction due to structural failure. A 1948 non-contributing addition was removed to open up the northwest corner of the site for a community plaza and greenspace while allowing for a new entry atrium and high-bay lab space to be located on existing foundation piers. The selective demolition and creative site re-grading allowed for an accessible entrance at the former basement level, opening it up to natural light and views and increasing the usable area.

Shared amenities at each level link the building's programmed spaces; flexible classrooms, multi-purpose rooms, and academic and industry lease spaces. The use of full height interior glass and metal mesh materials throughout the interior maximizes daylight and views while enabling building occupants and visitors to see innovative work taking place.

The shared social space, break areas, and conferencing promotes the “collision” of the multi-faceted groups using the building and allows for maximum flexibility of lease spaces for future uses and revolving industry tenants. The building welcomes many groups for university-wide and community events and has reclaimed its status as a vibrant fixture of the neighborhood.


Project Details