VIDEO: Mary Beth McGrew Overseeing UC’s Continued Bold Campus Plans, Designs

The University of Cincinnati has almost completely transformed itself, both academically and physically, over the past 20 years; and one of the people most responsible for that transformation is Mary Beth McGrew.

Over the past decade, McGrew, as University Architect, has overseen the master planning, design, construction, renovation and beautification of 117 buildings with 13.5 million square feet of space, across seven UC locations. She and her team have also managed the sustainability efforts.

What was once a largely commuter school now has become more of an on-campus university – sparking the construction of thousands of residential units in Uptown‘s neighborhoods. What’s more, UC’s main campus has seen virtually every surface parking lot replaced by new development or green space; and continues to see above-ground structures replaced by other more productive uses.

Through her work, and others that preceded her, the University of Cincinnati now boasts one of the world’s most distinctive and award-winning campuses. Such accolades only continue to grow as the university continues its transformation through major projects such as the $86 million renovation of Nippert Stadium, $87 million renovation of Fifth Third Arena, or the construction of the planned new Colleges of Business and Law.

Learn more about the woman behind the designs and plans in the following three-minute video.

UC Students, Staff Call on Metro to Make Additional Uptown Service Enhancements

University of Cincinnati’s Department of Planning+Design+Construction recently partnered with Metro for an on-campus listening session for input on how to better serve the Uptown community. The two-day outreach event included meetings with students, faculty and staff on both the main campus and medical campus to gather feedback from current bus riders and non-users.

In line with the many other community engagement sessions Metro has hosted throughout the city over the past year, participants were asked how they would like to see Metro improve, while non-riders discussed what was needed to get them to choose taking the bus.

Among the faculty and staff responses, improving east-west crosstown routes and frequency topped the list, followed by adding frequency to the existing 17, 19, 78 (Lincoln Heights) and 43 (Bond Hill) lines, adding express service between Uptown and Liberty Township, improving evening frequency, and adding more ticket vending machines.

Student feedback requested modernizing the fare box; adding evening and weekend frequency on the 19, 51, and 78 lines; improving instructions on how to ride the bus; adding a public display that monitors the number of available bike racks on the bus (currently, each bus has a capacity of two); and integrating the UC Bearcat card as a form of payment for bus fare.

Additionally, staff from the university presented a proposal for a new bus route called the University Connector. Similar to the 51, the route would connect Northside, Clifton, Walnut Hills, Oakley, and Madisonville, with a center circulator around three sides of UC’s main campus.

University staff members believe the route would minimize transfer wait times and improve accessibility to key academic buildings on UC’s main campus, and improve connectivity with the medical campus. But while the proposed circulator service would use established Metro stops, its location in Oakley would not take advantage of the new $1.2 million Oakley Transit Center that will break ground later this year.

As the building boom continues at a rapid pace in Uptown, a growing focus is being placed on improving the area’s transportation access – both UC’s student government and Board of Trustees have recently stated their support for extending the Cincinnati Streetcar up the hill, Metro launched Metro*Plus in 2013 and established the Uptown Transit District in 2014, which features enhanced stations, ticket vending machines, real time arrival signage, and improved wayfinding design.

There is currently no timetable for implementing any of the recommended improvements, but it is widely anticipated that Metro will put a county-wide transit tax on this November’s ballot that would be used to improve the agency’s bus operations.

PHOTOS: Building Boom Changing the Face of Uptown Neighborhoods

While the construction activities taking place in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown often grab the most headlines, it is actually the city’s uptown neighborhoods where some of the most dramatic construction progress is taking place.

Numerous projects are underway that are adding four- to six-story structures all over Clifton Heights, Corryville, University Heights, Clifton, and Mt. Auburn.

The $15 million, 115-room Fairfield Inn & Suites is now topped out and filling in the remaining piece of the U Square at The Loop block along W. McMillan Street. Once this portion of the development is complete, attention will turn to developing the planned office building along Jefferson Avenue in between W. McMillan Street and Calhoun Street.

Just down the street from the hotel project site is The Verge – 178-unit residential development – which is also now topped out. This project has stirred controversy due to its demolition of two historic structures that were once on the site. In addition to that, the project is replacing a large surface parking lot and several small homes.

In Corryville, the finishing touches are being put on the $30 million, 147-unit VP3 residential development that, like The Verge, is targeting students studying at the University of Cincinnati. Likewise, the $25 million 101 E. Corry project is bringing an additional 123 apartments and eight townhomes to the historic neighborhood.

Nearby, and on the border of Clifton Heights and Corryville, is the University Plaza site, which has now been fully demolished of its previous structures. While the new development footprint will not differ significantly from what was there before, a new Walgreens is already nearing completion, and a new Kroger grocery store, twice the size of the previous store, will also soon begin construction as part of a $24 million redevelopment effort.

Finally, the $17 million, 117-unit Gaslight Manor residential development in Clifton is on-pace to be completed later this year. This project is replacing a less dense apartment complex that previously occupied the hilly site immediately northwest of Good Samaritan Hospital.

EDITORIAL NOTE: All 17 photographs were taken by Eric Anspach in February 2016.

VIDEO: Cincy Red Bike Provides New Transportation Choice for the Urban Core

Although it launched less than two years ago, Red Bike has already become a very popular way to get around Cincinnati’s urban core. This new transportation option seems to be equally popular with recreational riders and those seeking to get around for practical purposes.

In a new video produced by Give Back Cincinnati — the second in a series on new transportation options in the city — the creation and growth of Red Bike is explored.

Be sure to check out the first video in the series, which focused on the tri*Metro program, and stay tuned to UrbanCincy for the third and final part of the series.

University of Cincinnati Selects Design Team for New Lindner College of Business

On December 18, the University of Cincinnati announced that its new $100-135 million Carl H. Lindner College of Business facility would be designed by the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects in association with Cincinnati-based KZF Design. The final building is expected to be paid for through a combination of private donation and university funds.

This continues the university’s Signature Architecture Program, in which renown architecture firms from around the world are selected to design new buildings on campus, typically with a local firm serving as the architect of record. In such an arrangement, the design architect typically leads the project from concept through the design development stage, in which the overall design intent for the building is established.

The architect of record (also sometimes known as the executive architect) then carries the project through construction documents and construction administration, assuming responsibility for the technical aspects of the project. Each party typically has some involvement over the entire course of the design and construction process, but the architect of record remains legally responsible for the project, including compliance with applicable building codes.

This arrangement is common when the project is located outside the design architect’s own geographic region, and/or if the project type is outside the design architect’s usual area of expertise. For example, New York-based Architecture Research Office recently collaborated with Heery International, an Atlanta-based firm with a strong portfolio of athletic facilities, on the design of the new West Pavilion at Nippert Stadium.

Founded in 1959, Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects has a long history of innovative design for educational facilities throughout the world, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. Recent projects include Campus Kolding at the University of Southern Denmark, and the Copenhagen Business School in Porcelænshaven, Frederiksberg. Common to all of Henning Larsen’s projects are a strong emphasis on transparency, natural daylighting, and an environment that nurtures a spirit of open collaboration.

Cincinnati-based KZF Design was founded in 1956 and has become one of Cincinnati’s most venerable architecture firms. KZF has a well-established history of serving as architect of record on a number of notable projects at UC, including the Campus Recreation Center in association with Morphosis and the Engineering Research Center in association with Michael Graves.

KZF was also the architect of record on Zaha Hadid‘s Contemporary Arts Center in downtown Cincinnati, and was responsible for the re-cladding of the Aronoff Center at UC, home to the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

Henning Larsen and KZF had been shortlisted for the College of Business project in early December, along with Foster + Partners and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, both based in the United Kingdom.

To be built at the current site of the Myers Alumni Center and unused faculty club building, the planned 250,000- to 275,000-square-foot is anticipated to house most all of the facilities for students and faculty at the fast-growing college. Unclear at this point is the fate of the 1,601-space Campus Green Garage located immediately adjacent to the existing Lindner Hall, which is expected to be demolished once the new building is completed.

Should both be demolished, it would open up a vast space for potential construction for other uses – serving as a masterstroke of campus redevelopment that would provide much-needed classroom space, while also opening up UC’s main campus to Burnet Woods and ridding main campus of one of its most unsightly above-ground parking structures.