Current one-sided attempts to broadcast image from Over-the-Rhine buildings—projecting distorted notions about the neighborhood as if it were a mere brand, commodity or singular personality— neglect the range of human interaction that a building can inspire.
This studio advocated looking in as well as projecting out. It considered that narrow band between the sidewalk and the “sales” floor as a space for interaction. It emphasized the remarkable occurrence of a fragile sheet of glazing at the base of a heavy, opaque brick structure. The installation attempted to encourage people walking by to do more than check their reflection in the tinted glass. Ideally, its goal was to give them more insight into their neighborhood and themselves.
Students started by walking Over-the-Rhine and downtown to search out compelling facades and signage. They also worked on the preservation of an historic cast-iron façade on Republic Street and evaluated the improvements needed at our Center for Community Engagement storefront on Vine St. After a few weeks of observation and analysis, student formulated three core installation projects for the Center: interior presentation panels; exterior signage; and exterior awning.
The interior panels were fabricated of perforated steel, which allow the activity of the street to be read in the space, while offering magnetic presentation capabilities on both sides of the storefront, in and out. The panels are hung from steel posts mounted to the existing wood window sill or the floor, and can be removed or added to create many display configurations and effects.
Reclaimed joists were used to frame a wall-mounted display inside the storefront, and also spanned the back of the space to support a steel-framed projection screen. Ronan Kirwan of Kirwan Industries in the West End graciously provided technical support during fabrication of the frame.
The exterior signage group refinished the paneled wood ceiling at the storefront entrance to accommodate a new down-lighting array. They also removed the interior drywall that covered several upper transoms and bricked voids behind the windows with reclaimed glass bottles to diffuse the light.
After consulting zoning and sign ordinances, the students developed a geometric copper sunflower, to evoke the symbol of the Over-the-Rhine People’s Movement while providing the building corner at the prominent intersection with a recognizable icon. After mocking up the shape in folded cardboard, the group worked with MLC Technologies to have the shapes water-jet cut from copper sheet. Then, the group folded and soldered and distressed the copper. The sunflower will soon be mounted to the existing signpost above the door.
The exterior awning group sought to improve the sidewalk experience while shading the glass-walled storefront at the Center from the blazing southwest sun. The students worked within historic, building code, and zoning constraints to develop a steel awning system with the assistance of Kip Ping from Pinnacle Structural Engineering. The proposed awning penetrates a void in the historic storefront above the cast iron and glass and mounts to the interior structure, as opposed to drilling and anchoring into the brittle historic iron façade. The next step is to get the plan through historic and building department approval, and to install the system after other building repairs are made.
Click on the images to dowload the Facade Assessment or the complete drawing set for the proposed awning.