1405-07 Republic Street, Spring 2010

The goal of the Spring 2010 atelier was to provide schematic design services (and some design development) for the redevelopment of 1405-07 Republic Street, a five-story, multi-family building owned by a non-profit community development corporation (CDC), Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH). The building, in the heart of an historic district of national significance, has been vacant for several years.
OTRCH approached the Miami University Center for Community Engagement DesignBuild studio in January 2009 for preliminary design assistance. This led to a series of architectural inquiries, some award winning (see them here). The next step was to refine the plan for the building, working with OTRCH to determine number and type of dwelling units, building systems and to consider a building pro forma that might mix affordable units with market rate and/or student housing.

In the January 2010 Atelier members and instructor John Blake inhabited a bank of cubicles on the 23rd floor, in the new offices of CR architecture and design. The group was hosted by Graham Kalbli, AIA, of CR, who conceived of the atelier model with Blake. Kalbli provided professional guidance and was a sort of concierge for the atelier participants—providing access to experts both inside and outside the office.

The commanding view of the project site made the 16,600 sf renovation seem manageable. At the same time, atelier members Kaitlin Beckham, Beth Calvelage, Michael Haddy, Alex Libengood and Ben Romero, kept connected with the neighborhood by living in Over-the-Rhine, yards away from the project site—interacting with the residents that might eventually call 1405-07 Republic home.

The semester started with analyzing existing proposals for the building and measuring the building in the bitter cold to compose accurate existing conditions documents. Once completed, the students worked to develop viable plans for the building with Kalbli and CR architecture and design housing experts Shannon Duffy, Sari Lehtinen, Tim Wiley (a Miami OTR Design-Build alumni), and Greg Albright. CR leaders David Arends, President and CEO, and David Scott Ross, Chief Design Officer, graciously participated in charrettes.

To help fund the project, OTRCH decided to pursue State of Ohio Historic Tax Credits through the Ohio Department of Development, as well as federal historic tax credits. This necessitated meetings with Mariangela Pfister, Technical Preservation Services Manager at the Ohio Historic Preservation Office in Columbus. These lengthy but informative sessions (including a marathon meeting on the eve of Spring Break) ensured that the atelier’s design would comply with Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. It was a challenge to maintain and preserve the building’s many remaining features, while updating it for modern usage and durability for the owner.

The atelier submitted their application to the Ohio DOD packaged with several buildings to be developed by 3CDC (Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation), which took several meetings with owner’s representatives and 3CDC project managers to coordinate. In the end, only two large Cincinnati projects were approved for the tax credits, but the atelier gained valuable insight into redeveloping a historic structure. All existing conditions drawings, proposed schematic design drawings, and the extensive written application were completed by the atelier prior to the March deadline, with accolades from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office.

Atelier members also met with plans examiners from the City of Cincinnati Division of Buildings and Inspections and Cincinnati Fire Department to discuss code and safety issues for the building. John Berry of CR coordinated the meetings which helped to make sense of egress requirements, sprinklers, and the like.

In summer 2010, the atelier’s drawings were given to Model Construction to provide OTRCH with a preliminary budget figure.