Arts & Entertainment News

Landor creates new downtown tradition with holiday windows

Local branding and design firm Landor Associates, located in the former Shillito’s department store building at Race and 7th Streets in downtown Cincinnati, has implemented an updated twist on classic holiday window displays using modern technology.

For the last two years, the company has worked to create vignettes that incorporate their work in attractive and engaging ways. From invoking local fashion designers to asking area bloggers to record their inspirations, the creative teams at Landor have enlightened and delighted passersby with their creations. This particular display takes it to a new level.

Media Design Director Dan Reynolds spoke with UrbanCincy about the background and implementation behind the newest iteration of storefronts. “My background is in film-making and creating media-based, interactive environments,” says Dan. “For our holiday windows, we used a projection mapping process to create hyper-precise animated projections onto three-dimensional objects.”

This technology, combined with the motion designers’ work, creates an engaging, updated take on the classic department store animatronics of yore. The windows have been transformed into linear vignettes that illustrate the lyrics to the song “Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland.”

While the displays are nice to look at during the day, the real magic happens at 4:45, when it’s dark enough outside that the projections can be seen from the street. “Passersby have done double takes when they see the different animations,” says Dan. “It’s a completely new and unexpected experience that surprises and delights people walking by.”

The show fills a tradition left vacant by both the original Shillito’s Department Store Christmas displays, and the Duke Energy holiday train display, which moved this year from its home on 4th Street to the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal. While there is no argument to the appropriateness of a train display in a train station, the tradition of going downtown for the holiday displays is permanently changed.

Courtney Tsitouris has memories from downtown Christmases past. “My family had a ritual back then… back when I had to wear a ruffle dress and curl my bangs. We’d stroll through Fountain Square, look at the lights, eat at Orchids at Palm Court and I’d get a toy from the Christmas shop at the Westin. I believed in the magic.”

Now workers, residents, and visitors can complete their downtown Christmas experience – ice skating on Fountain Square, local shopping and eating, and seeing a magical holiday window display at the Shillito’s building. On December 16th, visitors can come inside the Landor lobby and visit with Santa, look at the windows, and take free carriage rides around the city from 4-8 pm.

“These windows are our responsibility to the city,” reflects Dan. “We have an obligation to engage our neighborhood, and building on classic traditions is just one way to strengthen Cincinnati.”

Landor Holiday Window picture by 5chw4r7z.

Arts & Entertainment News

Shop locally this season with Cincinnati Unchained and Crafty Supermarket

Shop Local Cincy(disclaimer: Jenny works for ArtsWave, one of the sponsors for Crafty Supermarket. However, it’s too cool of an event not to tell you about it. Sorry boutcha.)

For those looking to circulate money inside Cincinnati, get a head start on their holiday shopping, and support independent businesses, this is the weekend to do it. Saturday, November 19th marks the return of the Crafty Supermarket, a craft fair focusing on “indie crafters, designers, artists, DIYers and other unconventional makers who put a lot of value on locally made goods” as well as the 5th annual Cincinnati Unchained shopping event – over 80 businesses all over the region are offering discounts for local shoppers.

“I think shoppers are increasingly looking toward locally owned businesses as a way to avoid the mall rush, get great service, and find unique gifts you can’t find anywhere else,” said Sean Fisher, one of the co-founders of the Cincinnati Unchained event.

From Bellevue to Wyoming and everywhere in between, local businesses and eateries have committed to awesome deals to help shoppers get a head start on gifts for loved ones this year. The Unchained website has a full list of deals and discounts available.

Every dollar spent at a locally-owned business generates approximately three times more economic activity than a dollar spent at a national franchise. By choosing to shop locally-owned for just one day, we can help support the local entrepreneurs in our own neighborhoods who help make Cincinnati unique.

By filling out a Shopper’s Passport – available at the Crafty Supermarket! – shoppers can be entered to win one of seven gift baskets filled with local goodies. The Supermarket, located again at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, opens at 11 am and goes all day, with DJ’d music, local food, and free gift wrapping by Yelp! Cincinnati.

“Cincinnati cherishes its neighborhoods, and at the center of each of our neighborhoods are small independent businesses,” explained Fisher. “Cincinnati Unchained is a chance to reinvest in our neighborhoods and support our local economy.”

Development News

Washington Park continues construction

The 47.3 million dollar renovation currently undergoing Washington Park is progressing at a fantastic clip. Though all the general public normally sees is a green construction fence, make no mistake: improvements are happening, and it is already amazing to see what 3CDC has accomplished since closing the park last year.

UrbanCincy had the opportunity to join a private tour of the park with the ArchNATI 2011 week. The updated park includes classic elements of the original greenspace that opened in 1855 – the bandstand is being restored, the original monuments are still intact, and a majority of the old trees stand tall – two of which will be highlighted and decorated in the winter months instead of bringing in a new tree a la Fountain Square.

There are several green features incorporated into the park. “We (3CDC and the Parks Department) wanted to be cutting edge with our sustainable elements of the space,” said Jeff Martin, project manager and the tour guide for the event. “These features will save us money over time, and help the city as well.” Located in four locations of the park are “dry wells” – storage containers for excess rain water that will keep two million gallons of storm runoff out of the MSD system. The public restrooms are spacious and incorporate natural lighting with solar tubes – circular skylights that go through the roof and use reflective metal to bring sunlight into the space. All the new buildings in the park will have green roofs.

The garage at Washington Park has been designed with light and safety in mind.

The 450-space parking garage has been designed with light and safety in mind. The three exits from the garage serve as light wells into the space, and are built twice as wide as normal stairwell allowances, encased in storefront glass to bring as much sunlight into the two level garage as possible. The bays of the structure inside are designed so that cars park at the level with the supporting columns, not next to them (like the Newport Levy garage) which creates better views for drivers and passengers getting out of their cars.

New features of the park are progressing as well. The playground area has been designed specifically for the park, with play towers representing the water tower in Eden Park, and taking other cues from the historical architecture of the city. The dog park on the western end of the space incorporates special “pup-pea” gravel that will allow pups to do their business and keep the space looking and smelling fresh – there is also a small trough that runs through, allowing dogs to play and drink potable water.

The football-field sized green space will soon have specialized sod laid down. The grass initially incorporates a synthetic structure in order for the root system to grow strong and remain springy for the public to run and play. It is the same system that the Cincinnati Reds use in their outfield, according to Martin.

“It’s great to see how much detail and attention was paid to the material selection,” said John Back, local designer and co-chair of the Young Architects and Interns branch of the Cincinnati American Institute of Architects, who assembled the ArchiNATI week and subsequent tour. “When [Washington Park] is finished, it’s going to be an incredible asset to the entire community. I can’t wait.”

Check out the rest of the pictures below, and for more construction updates, you can follow the progress on the 3CDC website.

Washington Park pictures by Jenny Kessler for UrbanCincy.

News Politics Transportation

Truth behind county’s MSD vote comes out

UrbanCincy received an internal City email with additional information behind the County Commissioner’s Metropolitan Sewer District vote that happened Wednesday. The vote was to deny any money going to the Cincinnati Streetcar project – the city proposed 3 million be given to the project to replace aging sewer systems underneath the route, in an effort to prevent more costs to be incurred later.

Predictably, the Commissioners voted against the proposal. Here’s the rest of the story:

Hello all –

I wanted to share some background on all of the chatter about the vote taken by the County Commissioners today. Below is a breakdown of the effects that was sent to me today. The bottomline is that the County Commissioners are sucking up to COAST. Their vote will actually make the Streetcar project cheaper, and cost MSD rate payers more money in the future when they have to pay the full cost of upgrading the sewers. But, whoever let facts get in the way of a good political argument?!

I know you guys like facts though, so read on…

4 key points about today’s [Wednesday’s] vote:

1) The actions taken today by the BOCC [Board of County Commissioners] will not stop the streetcar project. In fact, if the BOCC decides not to allow MSD to permit in the cost sharing agreement, it will actually save the Streetcar project money, as the streetcar will only pay to relocate the minimum conflicts with MSD facilities.

2) We need a final determination on whether the BOCC will participate in the cost sharing agreement within the next week. Final design for the streetcar is due November 1, and currently includes sewer design based on the assumption that the cost sharing plan will go forward as proposed. Our plan is to begin bidding the construction of the streetcar, including the sewer work, by the end of this year. If the BOCC does not participate, we will need to redesign the sewer and work to the minimum scope as well as other aspects of the design. That work must get underway as soon as possible and the longer we wait to start it, the longer we delay bidding the construction.

3) The cost sharing plan as proposed offers the BOCC and MSD to perform $6 million work of work at a tremendous discount of 50%. The MSD work proposed to be performed under the cost sharing plan is work that will eventually be necessary, as the facilities are over 100 years old. They could break anytime. Our goal is, like any other project in the ROW, to coordinate construction activities so as to dig up the streets as few times as possible.
Not participating in the cost sharing plan will only ensure that the MSD work happens at greater expense to MSD ratepayers, as it will not benefit from the unique cost sharing opportunity currently presented. Likewise, it ensures that this inevitable MSD work will happen with greater difficulty, as it will need to take place in an environment in which they have to work around a functioning streetcar system.

4) The construction coordination that is being proposed under the cost sharing agreement is not new. Regardless of your position on the streetcar, the proposed plan not only represents good, efficient construction practice, but a unique opportunity to save MSD ratepayers money.


Despite some of our official’s best efforts, this is the little rail project that could.

Business News Politics Transportation

Cincinnatians for Progress head into final weeks of campaign

The group dedicated to stopping the over-reaching, poorly worded and potentially debilitating piece of anti-rail legislation known (this year) as Issue 48 has mere weeks before the city’s population heads to the ballot box to decide the future of job growth, innovation, and progress in Cincinnati.

Cincinnatians for Progress has been working tirelessly to raise money and get the word out about Issue 48. If passed, the legislation would ban ANY money – both public and private – from being spent for rail transportation in the city of Cincinnati until the year 2020. After a similar issue was defeated in 2009, anti-rail forces outside the city are attempting to keep Cincinnati in the dark ages once again.

One big difference this year is the endorsement of two widely respected members of the NAACP- and both named Greatest Living Cincinnatians – Milton Hinton, a former Cincinnati NAACP president, and Judge Nathaniel Jones, former counsel of the national NAACP. Both men have publicly made a stand against Issue 48 and believe that the proposal will further discriminate against minorities.

Judge Jones spoke about his experience with racial discrimination and civil rights, particularly as they related to rail and the interstate commerce clause, saying,”Minorities need to be ever vigilant against back door efforts to take away their rights, including efforts to inhibit rail such as this…Transportation by rail is a key way for those who have been victimized in the past to take advantage of economic opportunities.”

This comes in stark contrast to Chris Smitherman, former president of the NAACP who has relinquished his seat temporarily to run for City Council. Smitherman is one of the architects of both Issue 48 and Issue 9 in 2009, and has been very vocal in his opposition to the Cincinnati Streetcar project. Despite the National Chapter of the NAACP encouraging passage of job growth legislation including public transportation, Smitherman has attempted to rally his base to block rail transportation projects that would put many back to work.

At a press conference this morning, Dr. Hinton said, “[defeating Issue 48 is] all about the availability of jobs… Issue 48 is self-defeating and the antithesis of job creation. Minorities have always had to fight to get a piece of the pie…with 48, there won’t be a pie to get a piece of.”

How You Can Help

If you feel that Cincinnati deserves to move forward with the rest of the country by establishing rail transportation systems, Cincinnatians for Progress needs your help in these last days of the campaign.

* Thursday night a Finish Line fundraiser will be held at Japp’s from 5.30-8.30 pm. $20 entry, $100 to be a host.

* You can donate online to Cincinnatians for Progress – your money is going to radio spots, direct mail, and yard signs and banners to help spread the word.

* Phone banking and canvassing will begin this weekend. CFP is looking for phone bank volunteers Tuesday through Thursdays from 6-8pm, and canvass volunteers on Saturdays and Sundays. Please email to sign up. UrbanCincy will be holding a phone bank night if you don’t want to go by yourself – keep tabs on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more details.

* Pick up yard signs and banners at local businesses. Currently Park+Vine and Coffee Emporium downtown have signs for you to display.

* Last but not least, word of mouth and spreading information is easily the best way you can help the campaign. Tell all your friends, coworkers and relatives who live in Cincinnati about Issue 48 and how debilitating it will be for our city. You can research talking points and learn more at the CFP info page.

Councilman Cecil Thomas put it pretty succinctly this morning: “This [issue] is not about the “now.” It’s about the growth of the city….the future of the city.”

Issue 48 picture by Noel Prows.
Casey Coston contributed to this article.