Instead of sitting vacant and filled with cobwebs and ghosts like many historical buildings in Cincinnati, the old Art Academy is being restored to hold staff offices and a library for its neighbor, the
Cincinnati Art Museum
When the Art Academy moved from Eden Park to its downtown warehouse space in OTR in 2005, the CAM acquired the building. Under the previous CAM director, the building was marked for demolition. Aaron Betsky, current director of the Art Museum, asked Neutelings Riedijk Architects of Rotterdam to update the master plan. The new vision plan included renovation of the vacant section. The environmentally focused AEC Emersion Joint Venture
was selected to design the renovation and the building is now on track for LEED Gold certification and a spring 2013 opening. Danis Building Construction is the Construction Contractor.
The first two floors of the old site will be offices to consolidate staff offices and free up more space for public exhibitions. The third floor will be a public museum library; complete with a west-facing terrace overlooking downtown.
Along with preserving the historical integrity of the first two stories of stone walls, Emersion plans to incorporate plywood from previous exhibits to furnish the offices with bookshelves, cutting up and repurposing fake historic wainscoting to create abstract wall patterns and sound absorbing walls. The designers are also reusing old Plexiglass display cases to create new shelving and screens. The Art Museum is also partnering with Building Value to salvage additional items from the old academy and repurpose them for the new offices.
“We are going for a more artful approach to the renovation and sustainability,” says James Cheng, lead designer at Emersion. “We are trying to take things from the execution of their mission and reuse the material that would otherwise be thrown away.”
By Evan Wallis