Terrex, Digital Futures Office Building

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

Project Narrative

Expressing Technological Innovation
The front door to Cincinnati’s Uptown neighborhood and its many academic and research institutions, the buildings populating the Cincinnati Innovation District need to express the technological innovation taking place within. But technology and architecture move at different speeds. What was cutting edge at the groundbreaking will appear mainstream—even archaic—in ten or twenty years. So, how does a building express technological innovation without dating itself?

This new office building within the Digital Futures Complex responds to this challenge by exploring the concept of creativity itself. Whether you think of Steve Jobs in his garage or kids at Christmas, who promptly discard the latest gadget to play in the box it came in, people are often their most creative when they have the least. Drawing on this experience, the building embraces simplicity.
A simple box with a single fold: its mass shifts at the third floor to share the sun with its neighbor (University of Cincinnati’s Digital Futures Research Building) while also letting light fill the pocket park between the two. Distinguished from the illuminated, white fins of its neighbor’s façade, the building adapts a simple, black metal panel system to generate impressive visual complexity. Unlit, the black panels shift to white, silver, and gold as they’re transformed by the light of the sun. At night they glow through perforated holes, ensuring that visitors and passersby never have the same view twice.

The facade is made up of uniform parts—repetitive metal panes and punched window openings—with one bay on the north and south facades that feature folded metal panels with perforated openings as a way of differentiating the lobby and conference spaces within. On the outside, the angles and repetition of the quick-to-install 4' x 13' panels suggests movement and boundless potential.

With parking tucked under the development, space is opened on site for inviting public interactions. While the pocket park between this building and the Digital Futures Research Building fosters informal connections between researchers at both buildings, a larger plaza hosts public events, connecting to the neighborhood and the ecological corridor that runs through the site.

Stand Out Features:
• 12' windows create nice views from sunny, energy efficient interiors.
• Façade: A simple, pre-existing black metal panel system was adapted to yield impressive visual complexity that is suggestive of the boundless potential of future technology.
• Rainscreen design allowed 4' x 13' panels to be fabricated off-site, then transported and quickly installed.


Project Details

Submission Category

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

Date of Completion

June, 2023

Submitting Firm Name


Project Team

Landscape Architect

SITE Design



Interior Designer


Environmental Designer



Structural: Schaefer, Civil: Bayer Becker

Innovation Alley Installation Designer



Messer Construction