Step Up to Art (SUTA)

Experiential Graphics- Small Scale (features or elements)

Project Narrative

Over 400 staircases were constructed during the early 20th century to connect the city’s neighborhoods and their parks. Neighborhoods in and of themselves are walkable, but rarely do pedestrians traverse between them. This results in missed opportunities to improve and maintain physical health and a more socially connected and equitable city through walking. Step Up to Art (SUTA) project harnesses community input and involvement in the creation of a public artwork that will improve the upper part of the Ohio Avenue stairs that connect Mt. Auburn to Clifton Heights (CUF). Through focus groups of residents from both neighborhoods, it was learned how they believe the staircase can be improved and offered four artists/artistic teams to choose from to implement this improvement. Practicing artist were selected by the residents voting. A signage system was curated that provides a consistent information layer, while allowing contextual artistic contents. Both in the CUF neighborhood near Van Lear, the upper Ohio Avenue steps boast a new mural and signage, while the nearby Fig Alley steps have been officially named with new signs.

The stairways with signs will become both destinations and nodes of a city-wide network of ‘pedestrian-transportation-system-as-art-experience’ with efficient connections between walking routes and neighborhoods. This will result in more connectivity between communities and in the creation of unique public spaces, which will, in turn, create a more integrated and equitable city. SUTA will also promote neighborhood identity and pride and will encourage walking and physical activity and, will consequently, improve public health.

SUTA doesn't only resonate as an interdisciplinary research project, but also acts as a critical urban system for Cincinnati. It's a much-awaited collaborative opportunity between important agencies and built on a public promise of a brighter future for our equitable and accessible neighborhoods.


Project Details

Submission Category

Experiential Graphics- Small Scale (features or elements)

Date of Completion

September, 2023

Submitting Firm Name

City of Cincinnati and The University of Cincinnati

Project Cost


Project Team

Urban Planner

City of Cincinnati, DOTE, Office of Architecture and Urban Design, Graphics Section; Step Up to Art - University of Cincinnati VP Office of Research; Spring In Our Steps; CUF Neighborhood Assoc.; Lizzy DuQuette and Dai Williams - Mural Artists


Holthaus Lackner Signs