The Hayden

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

Project Narrative

In 1969, at the foot of the famous Roebling Bridge on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, an 11-story building was constructed to house the Kenton County’s administration offices and jail. The brutalist structure was mostly solid, with small slit windows on the North and South facades with very few openings on the East and West. At one point, a quintessentially 1980’s decorative, Post-Modern stair tower was added to the West facade.

The jail cells were housed on the top three floors, shrouded by a metal mesh. A tight corridor ran around the perimeter of the cells. No cells had direct access to windows. The views, however, while seen through small openings and layers of metal mesh, were breathtaking!
The Kenton County administration would eventually move to a new campus across town in the former Bavarian Brewery, leaving this building available for adaptive reuse. The renovated building would eventually become known as “the Hayden,” a mixed-use tower housing 133 apartments and 6,000 SF of retail space on the ground floor.

Many design iterations were done over several years. Early concepts attempted to retain some brick elements, with punched openings for additional windows and tacking on balconies that would project outwards. This proved to be impractical and didn’t capitalize on the incredible views of Cincinnati, Covington, and the surrounding hills. We also felt we weren’t being true to the nature of the building’s beautiful structure. We were inspired by historic imagery during the building’s original construction with linear horizontal floor slabs that projected outward from the structural columns. The coffered floor slabs were deep and created another layer of interest and texture. Why would we cover these up? In fact, the structure was so well built that we were able to add an additional two stories to the building, making it 13 floors tall.

What ensued next was a series of studies that would maximize both the full-height glass openings as well as the long linear projected balconies. The coveted corners of the building were also turned into balconies, which offer sweeping 270-degree views!

For our metal panel façade patterning, we were inspired by the various patterns of historic metal ironwork created by the world-renowned Stewart Iron Works company, a local company that produced products ranging from fences to jail cells. Of particular interest to us were the various black iron weaving patterns of historic jail cells.

While the metal patterned façade and windows are modern, shiny, and new, we chose to allow the historic structural slab to retain its contrasting rough and varied texture. In this way, we’re adding another layer of history to this already historic building.

Kentucky is well known for its bourbon! The interior design and even its name are inspired by the rich bourbon heritage of Kentucky. The colors, furniture, and texture are all inspired by early speakeasies.


Project Details

Submission Category

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

Date of Completion

April, 2023

Submitting Firm Name

Elevar Design Group

Project Team


Elevar Design Group


Owner: Urban Sites and Al Neyer


Al Neyer