University of Cincinnati Moves Forward With Two Demolition Projects

Last week construction crews began demolishing the 81-year-old Wilson Auditorium along Clifton Avenue. The structure had sat vacant, used for not much more than storage, for decades and had been planned for demolition for just as long.

University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono reassured concerned students in September that the building’s historic facades would be preserved.

A parking garage was once envisioned to take the place of Wilson Auditorium, but updated plans call for the construction of temporary classroom space for students displaced by the $45 million renovations taking place at the College of Education. Once that project is complete, the temporary structures will come down and school officials say that the site will be transformed into green space.

The future of another University-owned structure, however, also appears to be limited.

The Campus Services Building along Reading Road is rumored to also be in line for demolition. This 84-year-old structure was once home to a Sears Department Store and now sits on what will become prime real estate following the construction of the $108 million MLK Interchange.

Requests for information from the University of Cincinnati’s office of Planning + Design + Construction were not returned.

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  • Eric Douglas
    • Neil Clingerman

      I wish Cincinnati would add the term Adaptive Reuse to its vocabulary. Sheeesh.

    • The problem is the building is literally falling apart. Bricks and stones are falling off the facade daily and the interior is almost as bad.

    • It’s a tough balance to strike. The building is very charming, but I just don’t see any chance of it being re-purposed in that location, and I’m not even taking the current state of the building into consideration.

      This site screams for a prime time office building of some sort that can take advantage of the views of those passing by on I-71 and getting off at the new MLK Interchange. You could probably do some sort of development on the site that would also take advantage of the property that abuts I-71 to the immediate west of this building across Winslow Avenue.

      This could be a location for another medical office/research building, or it could even become a site for the university to stick an office building with their logo proudly perched atop it. I’m sure the university could also make a pretty penny by selling off the land to a developer who would then build some sort of office, residential, hotel or some mixture of those uses on the site.

      If the MLK Interchange is in fact going to unlock a bunch of land in the area, as has been touted, then this is exactly the kind of site officials had in mind.

    • W. White

      The problem with both buildings is that they were allowed to deteriorate for so long. The Sears/Campus Services Building could be restored, even in its current condition, but UC can claim that it is too far gone to be preserved in its current state. Never mind that UC abandoned Wilson for years and deferred maintenance on Campus Services for who knows how long; it is a self-fulfilling prophesy that has been done so many times: an owner says that buildings are in too poor a condition, too far gone to be preserved, ignoring that fact that they did no maintenance on the buildings for years or decades.
      Quite frankly, the bottom line is that UC sees a chance to grab a pile of money by demolishing the Campus Services Building and replacing it with a big, ugly development or selling the site to someone who will do the same; and UC for the past couple of decades has not been particularly enamored with any of their historic buildings, so they are getting a chance to demolish one of them. It is a happy day in the Office of the President. The only thing that would make it a happier day is if these buildings were being replaced by some Gehry/Hadid blobitecture.

    • Eric Douglas

      Urban universities aren’t known to be particularly good neighbors. See University of Chicago demolishing historic buildings for medical school, Columbia University sitting on blocks of land in NYC, Wayne State in Detroit demolishing historic warehouses for commuter parking, and on and on. Just makes you wonder why these places of higher learning are so intere$ted in real e$tate.

  • Its not a rumor that CSB is coming down, all UC people are now out and demolition should be starting any day.

    • Thanks Bob! I was thinking that was the case, but we couldn’t get any confirmation. That’s some prime time real estate. I wonder what the university has planned for the site? New Law College site, prep it for sale, offices, what?

  • Michael Widener

    This is posted outside of the demo:

    • Michael Widener

      Not sure the picture went through:

    • Thanks for the information! We’ll check into it.

    • Neil Clingerman

      I’ll admit it, that’s a handsome replacement, the good kind of contemporary architecture that I almost never see in Cincy.

    • W. White

      To each his own. I prefer Wilson Auditorium to any “ultra modern” plastic, throwaway building, though UC at least has the decency to tell us that the “permanent” historic architecture they are demolishing is being replaced by something “temporary,” as all architecture today really is just temporary, meant to fall apart in a few years.

    • Neil Clingerman

      I’m not saying I like Wilson Auditorium being torn down. Not at all.

      99% of the time though its some hideous structure that replaces teardowns in Cincy, look at the SCPA for instance, ugly institutional building (good facility though which I’m not knocking but the architecture is terrible) at least in this case its an elegant modernism – the best that genre can do IMO.

    • Okay, so I heard back from someone at the University of Cincinnai’s office of Architecture + Planning + Construction. They told me that there is no official plan for this Center for Industrial Design and reemphasized that the current plans are for the site to be used as temporary swing space during the Teacher’s College renovation and then converted into some sort of green space.

      The person I spoke with indicated that this may have merely been posted to the construction fence by a DAAP student.

      I have requested additional information and clarification and will report back once I hear more.

  • charles ross

    Not UC the org – but private dev – also an entire block along Euclid has been torn down. Yep, ANOTHER entire Euclid block. Some stuff looked pre-victorian era. And yet Rent A Center and Krusty Kroger lives! What architectural beast slouches this way yet?

    • The University Plaza situation is a massively let down for Corryville and the Uptown community. Not only has it taken forever to get this atrocity demolished, but the new structure to be built there will not be much better. It is simply a contemporary version of the junk strip mall and parking lot currently there.

      There was a valid plan and proposal to reconnect Short Vine with Vine Street and have the new buildings orient toward that new street, with surface parking minimized and some parking placed on the roof of the new Kroger.

  • Neil Clingerman

    Btw, this is what a similar but slightly later (based on the lack of detailing I’d say 1930s) Sears building looks like when its still a Sears:

  • W. White

    The University of Cincinnati is showing all of us a pair of truly inspiring examples of “adaptive reuse.” A couple of great historic buildings are being “adaptively reused” into landfill debris. Everyone should follow their forward-thinking progressivism. Wait…everyone already does, never mind.
    Saving some façade panels is not historic preservation, and I do not care how green the green space is, throwing away solid, steel-framed, masonry buildings is not “green.”

  • Some additional info, the University doesn’t own the Campus Services Building or the land its on. They’ve been leasing it from Children’s Hospital. I have no idea what plans the hospital have for the site except like I said before, possibly a parking deck.

    • A couple of other people have said that same thing, but I think it’s a myth. The Hamilton County Auditor lists the owner very clearly as the University of Cincinnati. Parcel ID 091-0002-0017-90.

  • Just what UC needs, more useless “green space”. There’s a giant park/forest barely a block away!