Cincinnati Discovery Center

Building Architecture- Large Scale (>10,000 sf)

Project Narrative

The Cincinnati Discovery Center utilizes architecture to curate a journey through Cincinnati’s rich history. Visitors of both the park and the museum have something to find at every corner. Circulation is designed to suggest a general direction, yet encourage each individual to explore their own path to discovery. The goal of the project was to seamlessly integrate the museum and the preexisting pathway that characterize the park experience. A close attention to lighting was considered. A tiered approach to the design of the building lends itself to clerestory lighting as to not disturb the more sensitive artifacts but still allowing natural light into the space. The community spaces are oriented towards the best view of the lake, and provide plenty of space for various types of events to be held. A blend of indoor and outdoor spaces are incorporated through the use of courtyards and water features. A sculpture garden aims to bring some of the artifacts into the outdoor setting as well. Attention to an inclusive experience is highly prioritized and a well rounded variety of elements encourages interaction between the content and diverse audiences. From interactive elements to informative signage, there is something to engage visitors of all ages.

The museum holds seven galleries, a theatre, learning center, and outdoor terrace that can be used for various events. The permanent collection of over one hundred historical objects housed in the museum are categorized into the following galleries: Natural History, Technology, Art & Design, Entertainment, Industry, and Daily Life. Many odes to Cincinnati are included within the architecture to forge a strong connection between the city and the building that houses its history. These include the reuse of historical architectural elements like windows, doors, and parts of other buildings. The artifacts range from small fossils and vehicles, to facades of historically significant buildings. When considering the placement of each artifact and its display, the overarching goal was to transport visitors into the time and place of the object's original context. This is achieved through the use of signage, murals, and other elements. For example, the large gallery dedicated to natural history uses a green wall and board walks on two levels to immerse visitors in a jungle-like environment. Industrial elements finishes and murals containing context replicate the environment of factories that industrial related artifacts would have originally existed. Careful design consideration of each display comes together to create an immersive educational experience.
The overall design of the Cincinnati Discovery Center is focused on creating a unique and engaging experience for visitors while telling the rich story of Cincinnati’s history.


Project Details

Submission Category

Building Architecture- Large Scale (>10,000 sf)

Date of Completion

August, 2022