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Cincinnati: Downtown: Terrace Plaza Hotel

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^^Haha, I like that better than the present!  I give a B for creativity and adding a bit of life next to the Caddy Ranch different colored parking garage thingy!

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It's not bad, and certainly much better than the plain brick wall that currently exists!

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that rendering is sexy, and the "colored parking garage thingy" which is actually another art installation would make that one art focused section of town and pretty impressive for lil ol Cincinnati

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I just returned from living in Barcelona and the artist Joan Miro is also from there. His mural would look fucking awesome adorned on this site. Its a shame how the terrace has deteriorated over the years. But this is just a wonderful idea!

 

Gotta love those geniuses down at DAAP. they're brilliant.

 

Lets make this project happen!

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It closed last October? I'm surprised it stayed open that long.

 

I went to Cincinnati for a forum meet in May 2006, and booked a room at the Terrace Hotel through Expedia.com. It was a rip-off crap-hole then.

 

Upon check-in, it was apparent that the hotel had sh!tty floors for discount bookings, and nicer ones for the people who drove the Escalades I saw in the valet area. (They got wine & cheese baskets at check-in.)

 

The valets kept cars in the curbside spots reserved for loading and unloading by self-parkers in order to try to make people use the valet parking, and the desk clerk tried to tell me that their valet parking was the cheapest parking in the area at $19 per night. I found parking two blocks away in the Cinergy Center garage for $8 per 24 hours.

 

My room was barely tolerable, not worth the $100 plus tax and surcharges. The upholstery on the armchair was torn, the TV remote was broken, and the coffee maker was broken. In the hall outside, the soft-drink vending machine was broken as was the ice machine. There was some kind of softball tournament going on and several teams were staying in the hotel. They congregated outside the elevators at 2 a.m. for long periods, with lots of loud talk and raucous laughter. Once as I was leaving my room, I saw a couple f**king on the floor in the hallway two doors down.

 

The hotel was the only negative aspect to that weekend in Cincinnati. I had a good time and met a great group of people. Overall I found Cincinnatians to be friendly and hospitable.

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I'd love to see a movie theater go into the boxy lower portion of the building where windows aren't needed. Given that those floors used to house the hotel ballrooms and meeting facilities, it probably wouldn't take much to put some cinemas and the required support spaces there. It would be a great destination for that part of 6th Street. Retail shops could go into the ground floor, and the upper hotel floors could probably be renovated and used as a fashionable boutique hotel such as a W hotel.

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Lots of really great photos with article link...

 

The View from the Terrace

http://www.soapboxmedia.com/features/01006terracehotel.aspx

By Casey Coston | Soapbox Cincinnati, October 6, 2009

 

The City of Cincinnati is certainly no slouch when it comes to architecture and signature buildings.

 

Indeed, downtown is literally studded with 'starchitect' buildings from both past and present.  If you were to run down a quick list of some of the more prominent names, you would find Daniel Burnham, notable for the "City Beautiful" movement and 1892 Chicago World Exposition, who designed a cluster of buildings in and around 4th, 5th and Walnut Streets, as well as others from bygone eras including Cass Gilbert, H.H. Richardson and John Russell Pope - all of whom played a key part in crafting the look and feel of downtown's cityscape.

 

Fast forward to the present and we are fortunate to find new structures such as Zaha Hadid's Contemporary Art Center - famously declared in 2003 by the New York Times' Herbert Muschamp as the "most important new building in America since the end of the Cold War." (DAAP graduate Michael Graves designed the previous location of the CAC on 5th near Walnut.) World reknowned architect Cesar Pelli's fingerprints can also be found across the street from Hadid's CAC at the Aronoff Center for the Performing Arts, built in 1995.

 

But one of the most important post-war structures in the city often receives little to no fanfare by many casual observers, as it looms silently and somewhat forlornly above downtown. The Terrace Plaza Hotel, located at the Southwest corner of 6th and Vine, is considered by many to be the most important Modernist building in Cincinnati, worthy of national and even international significance. To the average downtown pedestrian, this is the giant seven story blank brick wall which houses Batsakes' millinery and shoeshine and Wendels' clothing and accessories on the ground floor and, well, a giant, vacant window-less monolith up above. 

 

However, at the time of its inception, the hotel, referred to by some as the "pushbutton palace" for its modern switchboard telephone technology, was groundbreaking both in terms of amenities as well as style. Aaron Betsky, current Director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, and former director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, considers the Terrace Hotel one of Cincinnati’s architectural masterpieces.

 

"[it's] a finely poised example of an era in which we still believed in a future that would not only be more logical and rational, but elegant and sophisticated as well.  Its simple forms, good proportions and restraint still stand in contrast to some of the more elaborate attempts since then to enliven our downtown.  It is like a classic tweed suit in a party of double-knits," he says.

 

In its heyday, the Terrace Plaza was truly a monumental work of art in downtown Cincinnati.  Constructed by local developer John J. Emery, Jr. between 1946-48, the building was designed by the New York office of famed Modernist firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and noted architect Gordon Bunshaft (designer of New York’s Lever House).  More importantly, however, given Bunshaft’s unavailability due to WWII, the lead designer on the project was Natalie DeBlois, a rare woman in a male-dominated profession, who had a somewhat tangential local connection in that she attended the Western College for Women in Oxford for a year before transferring to Columbia.  Although DeBlois never actually visited Cincinnati during the design and construction, she had a hand in virtually every aspect of the project, including interior design.

 

And the Terrace's interiors were equally as impressive as its exteriors. In a flourish of visionary, au courant style which should not go unrecognized, Emery commissioned artists Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, Saul Steinberg and Jim Davis to create signature works of art to be used in the interior.  Miro’s stunning mural was painted in a Harlem art studio,and previewed at the Museum of Modern Art before being installed along the southwest wall of the Terrace's circular, cantilevered 20th floor Gourmet Room restaurant.  It is truly stunning to see photos from the 1950s, as diners sit in the Grill Room insouciantly sawing away at their steaks, smoking cigarettes and swilling martinis while the Miro masterpiece sits literally inches from the backs of their banquette, ready to catch a wayward flick of meat from a fork or splash of gin from a glass.  Calder's mobile soared in the main lobby, Steinberg's view of Cincinnati covered the South wall of the 8th floor Skyline Room restaurant while Davis’ Plexiglas light sculpture presided over the Terrace Bar on the same floor.

 

Fortunately for all, most of the prized artwork, removed in 1965, currently resides at the Cincinnati Art Museum, where the Miro mural and Calder mobile are prominently displayed outside the Museum’s own Terrace Cafe.  The 90 foot long Steinberg mural, "A New Yorker’s View of Cincinnati," while not currently on display (and one of only two remaining Steinberg murals), was the subject of an exhibit at the Museum in 2007-08.  The whereabouts of Davis' piece are, sadly, unknown.

 

Five or so years ago, a glitzy condo/boutique hotel conversion project dubbed "Next" was proposed for the building.  Fast forward a year or so, as "Next" went "Nowhere," and in 2005 the building was sold to a pair of New York investors for $26 million while it continued to operate as a hotel.  The hotel quietly and abruptly shut down in October of last year and has been dormant ever since.

 

Last Spring, DAAP students used the Terrace Plaza as the subject of their Studio project.  The show was an entertaining eye opener, with the lower seven floors of the building being used for varied combinations of fitness facilities, nightclubs, bowling alleys and even movie theaters.  Even more stunning were how the huge brick exterior walls were transformed into living pieces of art and media, with images such as the Miro mural being projected onto both sides of the building, as well as news and ticker tapes.  Truly visionary and vibrant stuff.  Of all the possible hotel projects floating around town, the Terrace Plaza, with the right backers and vision, is unique like no other, and could further cement Cincinnati’s reputation as a city of world class architecture.

 

Since its closure, the owners have been actively marketing the property locally through Joe Janszen and Nick Barela at Colliers Turley Martin Tucker.  Although the Grill Room on top has not been open since 1992, the balance of the hotel has been fairly well maintained.  There are 350 hotel rooms and approximately 270,000 square feet of office space available.  For my money, a boutique hotel a la the "W," a Morgans Group Hotel or, ideally, Louisville’s stunning 21c would be ideal in this space, perhaps offsetting some of the hotel space with condo or apartment conversion.  It's amazing to consider the unlimited potential in the event if the structure was brought back to its place at the apogee of post-war modernism, replete with reproductions of the original artwork.  In New York or LA it would be the absolute hottest spot in town, and, as supporters like Betsky have argued for several years, "Cincinnati could certainly use such a facility."

 

Alas, Cincinnati is not exactly New York or LA, and many experts think the price points necessary to bring in a W or similar boutique-style hotel would not fly in the current economic market.  Moreover 21c’s name has recently been tossed around in connection with the just-announced 3CDC acquisition of the single room occupancy Metropole residential hotel on Walnut - a great location, admittedly, but the Terrace has so much more potential. Add to that a market where occupancy rates for hotels in the tri-state have declined by approximately 9.6% for the first nine months of 2009 to 51.6% and the challenge is particularly daunting.

 

But the Terrace Plaza is a soaring, rose brick symbol of mid-century design in downtown Cincinnati.  From the vertical slab atop a horizontal terrace base, to the cylinder of glass and steel cantilevered out on top, to the custom designed Thonet furniture, Abe Feder lighting, monogrammed Rookwood ashtrays, Marianne Strengell textiles, marble veneers and even the lettering font on the rest rooms of the Grill Room (one of the last vestiges of the original structure after an atrocious 80’s style makeover), the structure is an icon of an era.

 

You could even bring back Natalie DeBlois for the re-christening.  She’s 88 and still active, swimming daily in Lake Michigan (weather permitting of course).  She visited here for the first time ever last November and, unfortunately, the hotel had recently closed - although they were able to give her a tour.

 

Let’s bring her back for the Grand Re-Opening.

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Great article. The Terrace Plaza is an underrated gem that needs to be preserved and restored. I'd love to see something like a W hotel go into that space, maybe along with an independent movie theater in the lower floors. In terms of high-quality architecture and proximity to nightlife, it would be right up W's alley.

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I knew about the Terrace Plaza years before I moved to Ohio.

 

It was published in an architectural monograph or collection on early modern architecture, in 1955 or so.  Not sure if it was only hotels or if it had other building types.  The book was published in Switerland or Germany, and was bilingual so I could read some of the text.

 

The Terrace Plaza had a nice spread, with beautiful glossy Ezra Stoller-style B&W photos. For all I know they could very well have been by Stoller.  The exterior was featured , as was the interior, inculding the Miro in the Gourmet Room.

 

From what I recall I think the text emphasised the mixed use aspect of the building, and said there was a department store in that lower blocky part. 

 

Another thing I noted was the early date. Mid-late 1940s.  Which means this was one of the very first large truely modern buildings in the US.  The 1946 date mentioned upthread would have made it contemporary with Mies Van Der Rohe's Chicago apatment buildings, perhaps a bit earlier.  It would predated the Lever House.  It might have been SOMs first modern skyscraper.

 

I can see a good case for landmarking this tower.

 

 

 

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Everything and more you would ever want to know about the Terrace Plaza Hotel (mostly the art work)...12 page history from the SOM website historical section:

 

http://www.som.com/content.cfm/art_soul_of_the_corporation

 

A few excerpts including a mention of a Cincinnati company (Formica). Did you know...

 

"rooftop terrace garden adjoining the lobby and an outdoor dining space that could be converted to a skating rink in winter"

 

"The use of materials developed during World War II like Formica and other plastic laminates; the custom-designed textiles and the variegated color schemes in the individual hotel rooms correlated with different sun exposures; the built-in air conditioning and lighting fixtures; the motor-controlled couch-beds and the retractable metal wall partitions that could alter the size of suites; and the fully automated elevators and advanced mechanical systems regulated on a large central console all contributed to the sense that Terrace Plaza was the last word in modernity and planning, and that its owner had spared no expense on behalf of the public’s comfort and enjoyment."

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N.Y. investors buy Cincinnati's Terrace Plaza

Historic hotel site could get major facelift

By Dan Monk | February 5, 2010

 

A New York real estate investor has purchased the mostly vacant Terrace Plaza complex on Sixth Street downtown and is exploring several uses for the hotel, office and retail property.

 

“There are a couple of different ways we may go,” said Tommy Demetriades, vice president for the new owner, Floral Park, N.Y.-based World Properties Inc. “The location is fantastic,”

 

Possibilities include replacing the building’s massive brick facade with an all-glass exterior, recruiting a department store and opening a fine-dining restaurant evoking the old five-star Gourmet Room on the 20th floor. Demetriades said Wyndham Hotels and Resorts has looked at branding the property’s 321 rooms. So has InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns the Crowne Plaza brand, which also ran a hotel at the site.

 

“We want to be quick about making a decision, but we want to make the right decision,” he said. “The carrying charges are huge, so we can’t take forever. Within three months, we should definitely have decided what we’ll do with the property.”

 

Read full article here:

http://cincinnati.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2010/02/08/story1.html

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The exterior renovation is a must. The brick wall is terrible curb appeal and if they replace it with glass, it should really transform that corner. Exciting news and hopefully they maximize the potential here

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Also, if they do a dept store here, then there is a corridor forming of shopping, especially with the hopeful renovation of tower place.

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I've merged this with another existing Terrace Plaza thread that was under Architecture, Environmental, and Preservation.

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After reading the article I'm fearful that these investors might just be coming in and proposing this ideas to raise the value of the property so that they can sell it in the short term for a gain.

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BOWLING ALLEY!!!

 

one is going in at Newport on the Levee [which granted also has a movie theater, but I could imagine that the core could support two theaters but not two bowling alleys].

 

Also, doesn't the Phoenix have a bowling alley in the basement?

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This is will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on. I hope it does turn out to be legit. It would be a big boon for DT. A department store is interesting but I'm not sure what niche would fit. With Sak's and Macy's already downtown I am unsure whether or not another high-end retailer is really in demand. TJ Maxx in the Tower Place is useful for bargain hunters but there is really nothing covering the middle ground. Could be a perfect place for something along the lines of a Target or Kohl's if not a full blown grocery. Obviously there is plenty of space there that there could multiple options. There seems to be an abundance of hotel proposals floating out there. I can't help but wonder if the casino and/or streetcar has anything to do with it.

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BOWLING ALLEY!!!

 

one is going in at Newport on the Levee [which granted also has a movie theater, but I could imagine that the core could support two theaters but not two bowling alleys].

 

Also, doesn't the Phoenix have a bowling alley in the basement?

 

YOU SUPPORT NEWPORT!  TRAITOR!!! :D

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This building has such a great heritage that it could garner a very nice place whatever it is.

 

Is it just me or is there one too many towers in the background in this rendering?

692101-300-0-1.jpg

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The exterior renovation is a must. The brick wall is terrible curb appeal and if they replace it with glass, it should really transform that corner. Exciting news and hopefully they maximize the potential here

 

I couldn't agree more!  I would love to see a bowling alley, movie theatre and grocery store complex at this corner.  Chicago has a similar thing at 322 East Illinois Street.

 

 

BOWLING ALLEY!!!

 

one is going in at Newport on the Levee [which granted also has a movie theater, but I could imagine that the core could support two theaters but not two bowling alleys].

 

Also, doesn't the Phoenix have a bowling alley in the basement?

 

I only cross the river for Hofbrauhaus and for Kentucky's best asset, "The view of Cincinnati".

 

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Altering the stark brick wall would severly disrepect the historical moderist design. While I agree it is not a good design, I think maintaining the feature is critical to preserving the intergrity of the entire structure.

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Altering the stark brick wall would severly disrepect the historical moderist design. While I agree it is not a good design, I think maintaining the feature is critical to preserving the intergrity of the entire structure.

 

I'm usually not a fan of the modernist look but I also would like to see the current facade, more or less, remain. Glass has become so standard in today's building world. I wouldn't mind them touching it up to make it a little more street-friendly/interactive but I would really like to the see the brick, especially in the tower part, remain. Whatever they do, it will be nice to just see it in use and vibrant.

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Altering the stark brick wall would severly disrepect the historical moderist design. While I agree it is not a good design, I think maintaining the feature is critical to preserving the intergrity of the entire structure.

 

More often than not, it's appropriate to respect the historical design of a building, but i don't see this as one of those times.  It's a brick facade that doesn't even have any windows.

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Altering the stark brick wall would severly disrepect the historical moderist design. While I agree it is not a good design, I think maintaining the feature is critical to preserving the intergrity of the entire structure.

 

More often than not, it's appropriate to respect the historical design of a building, but i don't see this as one of those times.  It's a brick facade that doesn't even have any windows.

 

I have to agree..but I can't help but think that maybe this is the conversation they had when they took out the mural in the Gourmet Room and added that horrendous wood paneling and chandelier. In 50-100 years we may regret altering the "ugly brick wall". Just food for thought.

By the way, here is a link to a slide show that the Cincinnati Preservation Association has on the hotel..gives some history and has some really sharp photos. I love the photo of the entrance.

http://www.cincinnatipreservation.org/files/uploaded/Terrace_Plaza_Cincinnati.pdf

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The original design (if you look at the initial image in the CPA link) had two-story windows at ground level. The second story was bricked over in 1965. Restoring these would not only help the "ugly" argument, but would also be even more respective to the historic significance of the building.

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^ Agreed. I'd rather see the building properly restored than have windows punched into that brick wall. If something like a movie theater goes into the pedestal floors, then there'd be no reason for windows anyway.

 

The original hotel decor would be a perfect fit for the W hotel chain.

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If a W ends up there, I don't care what they do with the bland brick wall.  It might be 'modern' but that doesn't make it unoffensive to the senses.  A sheer glass wall could be uber-chic.

 

W or bust!

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Altering the stark brick wall would severly disrepect the historical moderist design. While I agree it is not a good design, I think maintaining the feature is critical to preserving the intergrity of the entire structure.

 

More often than not, it's appropriate to respect the historical design of a building, but i don't see this as one of those times. It's a brick facade that doesn't even have any windows.

 

I agree, the building is hideous regardless of its historical value.  I would rather see efforts by the preservation society to fight to keep OTR homes from being bulldozed than any energy made to preserve the brick facade of this building.  Re-cladding it in glass coupled with tacky corporate signage like seen in Columbus would work well in this corner.

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Personally, I'd prefer seeing the base of the Terrace adapted for use as a casino rather than consuming the enormous Broadway Commons site for such usage.

 

The windowless feature fits perfectly with casino design, and the 45,000 s.f. footprint would allow for a grand, multi-level casino facility that could incorporate retail into the remainder of the base.

 

Adequate parking could be accommodated by a multi-story garage on the surface parking lot running between Fifth & Sixth Streets on the west side of Race, atop which could be constructed apartment/condo and/or hotel towers.

 

What troubles me about the Broadway Commons casino proposal is that it is cheesy, resembling some of the casinos operated by Indian tribes in the midwest.  If Cincinnati is going to allow casino gambling, it should opt for a first-class facility that will truly be an overnight destination location.

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With the new Marriott at Lytle Park, the new 21c on Walnut and plans for new hotels at St. Xavier Park and The Banks - not to mention the casino's option to build an on-site hotel after a few years, it's hard to imagine what would be another huge hotel at the Terrace Plaza. Is the possibility of residential redevelopment completely off the table? I think that may be it's best option, with street-level retail and maybe even a few floors of offices.

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Maybe HP can be cajoled into expanding their employment base here in Cincy. What base they do have works under a parking garage with no windows for its employees. The Terrace Hotel bldg would be perfect!

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