On July 30 students from UC’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning
(DAAP) presented ideas for Cincinnati’s Brewery District
— the area of Over-the-Rhine north of Liberty Street — and Brewing Heritage Trail.
The students had been working on their designs in teams of four or five as part of the class titled Design Systems: Re-Envisioning Cincinnati’s Brewery District. Each year the studio class works with a real client to create real solutions, and this year’s client came into the picture through university connections. Steve Hampton, executive director of the Brewery District, is an architect and DAAP graduate.
The students’ projects are helping the Brewery District develop its Brewing Heritage Trail
, which is envisioned as a world-class walking tour and district celebrating Cincinnati’s brewing history that would bring heritage tourism into the area.
“Being able to access all this young talent is fantastic,” Hampton says. “I love that with this kind of studio you’re going to get a variety of options.”
Hampton is looking forward to putting some of the ideas into practice in the Brewery District. The students are also excited about the prospect, as the district has become a passion for many of them through the course of the project.
“They felt the passion for the neighborhood,” says professor David Eyman. “It took one walk through the area for them to fall in love with it. So what they did was 200 percent of what you usually see from a class.”
“We put our hearts and souls into this,” student Caycee Boyce says, “and a lot of time!”
Her classmate Jenny Beruscha adds, “It’s interesting how a bunch of students with the same education could come up with such different designs.”
Their July 30 presentations showed the variety of ideas they worked on as well as some similarities.
Many students emphasized the need for public gathering spaces, drawing on the brewing heritage connection and the inspiration of biergartens as places to bring people together. Better lighting and seating was a common theme to improve safety and comfort in the neighborhood. Several groups also emphasized public art installations, consistent signage and gateways at main intersections to define the district’s boundaries and overall feel.
Many of the young designers gave nods to brewing history and OTR’s heritage while integrating modern twists. The browns and ambers of beer even worked their way into the aesthetics of designs as main colors, along with materials like wood and steel inspired by the brewing process and the brick texture already ubiquitous in the neighborhood’s architecture.
At the same time, the groups worked to make sure their designs were fresh and modern.
Two groups actually rejected the connection of beer itself, favoring the idea of “brewing” as a metaphor for creating or making and focusing on the district as a daytime space for residents to complement OTR’s thriving nightlife scene south of Liberty Street. One group even expanded its scope from the Brewery District to the entire branding of Over-the-Rhine.
The presentations were hosted at Roadtrippers
in the Brewery District, an app and website that aims to help travelers drive to the most interesting places on their journeys. This was another UC connection, as Roadtrippers has DAAP graduates on staff.
The students were critiqued by a panel of judges ranging from DAAP faculty and successful professional designers to Brewery District representatives and a practicing OTR brewmaster.
The students’ range of possibilities and quality of work impressed even their professors.
“Who better to design the future than the future themselves?” professor Kelly Kolar, who runs Kolar Design
, asked after the presentations.
With all of these new ideas, the Brewery District’s future looks full of possibility.