General Ormsby Mitchel Park Shelter

Building Architecture- Small Scale (<10,000 sf)

Project Narrative

The City of Fort Mitchell, KY sought to enhance a tucked-away civic park. Parking, courts, grading, ball fields, irrigation, lighting, playground and overall accessibility were enriched by our civil and landscape colleagues. For our part, the new shelter sits at the heart of the park as a nexus for park goers.

The city was named after a pivotal civil war fort. The park itself is named after the fort’s designer, General Ormsby Mitchel, who is credited with protecting Ohio and Kentucky from confederate occupation.

Mitchel had an ambitious life beyond military strategy. Prior to the Civil War, he expounded upon law, philosophy, mathematics, surveying, and astronomy with brilliance. Mitchel taught and wrote on many subjects, but a legacy most greater-Cincinnatians admire is that he founded the Cincinnati Observatory, laying stones with his own hand and commissioning the first telescope.

So, within the park named for a great mind, we chose to honor his peacetime pursuits in a sculptural gesture. The shelter includes restrooms, maintenance storage, and a covered picnic area. The program and durable materials do not deviate from typical park shelters. Instead, this implementation of CMU and trusses seeks to elevate.

From the parking area approach, the shelter is low in profile and welcomes visitors with an extended wraparound porch. The porch acts as an entry toward the path to the ballfields, and a gathering space adjacent to the vibrant playground. The enclosed rooms are wrapped in fluted block, which catches light and shadows through the days and seasons. Beyond the porch is a spacious covered picnic area, where the vista opens, the hillside falls away, and the roof lifts toward the fields. The picnic space is protected with a voluminous celestial canopy. Lights scatter in a spray of stars. From the path below, the shelter ceiling beckons the eyes upward.

General Mitchel’s legacy of awe and wonder inspired this playful and curious interpretation of a park shelter.


Project Details

Submission Category

Building Architecture- Small Scale (<10,000 sf)

Date of Completion

May, 2023