Returned to Service: Continued Rehabilitation Within the Over-The-Rhine Neighborhood

Landscape Architecture & Community Planning – Implementation

Project Narrative

Over-The-Rhine, the neighborhood named for memories of a German river, whose collection of buildings began to rise in the 1800s, remains one of the largest, most intact historic districts in the country.

OTR’s historic buildings have persisted, but vitality was long drained from these rooms as years of neglect left many buildings vacant and unsafe. The architecture was deemed “endangered”.

Through recent years, we have endeavored as part of an extended cohort of experts to revitalize these seasoned spaces. Over the past twenty years, our design team has advocated for nearly two hundred OTR buildings, from early consultation to tax incentive documentation to orchestrating full rehabilitation.

We know the danger of an abandoned building. Time allows the pieces to slowly shift apart, revealing cracks, gaps, and frayed edges. Neglect leads to failed roofs, delaminated brick wythes that may topple to the sidewalk in a windstorm, rain-saturated floorboards, pitched and cracked framing, and broken glass. Strong bones are tested in cycles of Cincinnati winters and summers.

Our practice cut our teeth on 1800s bricks, learning lessons of our past on every block, spelunking with headlamps from mossy basements to sweltering attics - documenting every surface. We unravel how a building began and how it has been manipulated for better or worse. We pause entropy and choreograph the work to be done, careful that our modern expectations harmonize with the historic identity. We harness the inherent value in these old materials while we enhance the clarity of space, life safety, and practical comforts.

In this way, architecture is a salve. We do this again and again, handfuls of buildings at a time, until entire streetscapes breathe anew. Our efforts will continue as countless buildings remain at rest. Here we highlight the curative and compounding effect when buildings are returned to service of life: people, voices, mealtimes, meetings, lights, sounds, and open windows.


Project Details

Submission Category

Landscape Architecture & Community Planning – Implementation

Date of Completion

August, 2019

Submitting Firm Name

Platte Architecture + Design

Project Team


Varies; majority of work depicted includes Advantage Group Engineers, EBS, Bayer-Becker, Common Bond Consulting, et al


Varies; majority of work depicted built by Model Construction