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Thesis Statement Major Issues Project Requirements Major Spaces Program in Diagrams Site Documentation Site Context Site and Region History Precedents Annotated Bibliography


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Museums and Exhibits

The ohio River

Museum architecture serves as city icons that simultaneously catalyze development and defining their surroundings. While museums are monuments to public knowledge, they are programmatically introspective lifeforms; museum displays require perfect artificial lighting conditions, admission fees, and shelter, creating a disconnect with exterior context. As a result, the experience of site and public space is lost once inside museums. Furthermore, museum’s large, event-based use can serve as unwanted open and closed signs to their surrounding neighborhoods.

The Ohio River has not only been key to Cincinnati’s economic development but also served as the divider between The Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. The city and river retained much of this history along its banks in the form of period buildings, small, river settlements, and historic sites connected to the war and Underground Railroad. Cincinnati’s modern connection to the river is defined by the event; the city currently hosts the Tall Stacks festival, a nineteenth century riverboat festival where old riverboats dock along the Ohio River downtown in Sawyer Point, local food tradition and beer festivals, and firework displays. Despite this, the city’s waterfront is problematic.

INfrastructure rift and tides

project summary

Cincinnati’s waterfront is now dying by the ebb and flow of event-based use. While its river stadia attract national visitors, parking lots and vacant buildings create fields of inactivity directly adjacent to downtown when not in use. This problem is exacerbated by the great rift of highway between downtown and the stadiums, effectively destroying pedestrian connections to the water. Holistically, Cincinnati’s waterfront needs a new vision to reestablish relevancy, consistent use, and connections to its downtown core. Old infrastructure including the highway connection needs to be readapted or removed, ways to introduce new infrastructure need to be added, and new types of activity are needed to establish vibrancy. Catalyst projects that celebrate Cincinnati’s connection with the river and allow for citywide events while encouraging connections to the rest of the city are a necessity.

Nontraditional exhibition space with diverse public functions and a primary focus on its waterfront interface can change Cincinnati’s waterfront identity. By using the Ohio River as boundary between two once-disparate communities, the museum can use the Ohio River as exhibit. Allowing a public interface for outdoor festivals and an area to dock, display, and exhibit riverboats both inside and outside the museum can engage the museum critically to its site. The introduction of additional, constant-use functions into the program such as a headquarters for festival organizers and multipurpose space, and connections to the city proper can also promote perpetual use of the riverfront. By placing this pivotal building within a larger framework of riverfront development, Cincinnati residents can once again have a relevant connection to their riverfront.

culture values Cincinnati has a rich maritime and industrial history connected to the Ohio River. River festivals and celebrations form Cincinnati’s identity. Both modern Cincinnati and Ohio River development is a result of Civil War Development goals



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Tie cultural heritage icons within a livable downtown framework. Link river history with effective modern waterfront use. Show Civil War history as both a boundary and connection between Ohio and Kentucky communities. facts As the southernmost Union city in the Civil War, Cincinnati was the foremost hub in union manufacturing and transportation. As the largest tributary to the Mississippi River, the Ohio River was a major transportation and shipping line between the northeast and midwest. needs Storage, maintenance, and display area for historic Ohio River riverboats. Headquarters for riverfront festival organizations.

ideas Use cultural heritage to establish framework for mixed-use development. Architecture and linear procession connects past and future river culture.





Support livable development of river and downtown. Strengthen Cincinnati’s strong festival culture. Pedestrian access to and movement on the riverfront is given primary consideration. goals Give Ohio’s riverbank development a myriad of uses that attract patrons and establish constant use. Reestablish relevancy between Cincinnatians and its riverfront.

needs Easy access to public amenities. Easy access to downtown business and residences. Human contact with the Ohio River and it’s historic development Human-scale connections between Ohio and Kentucky ideas Use the idea of “promenade” to create a pedestrian axis along riverfront. -Establish a connection between Ohio and Kentucky neighborhoods using pedestrian bridge walkways.

Support livable development of river and downtown. Strengthen Cincinnati’s strong festival culture. Pedestrian access to and movement on the riverfront is given primary consideration. goals Give Ohio’s riverbank development a myriad of uses that attract patrons and establish constant use. Reestablish relevancy between Cincinnatians and its riverfront.

needs Easy access to public amenities. Easy access to downtown business and residences. Human contact with the Ohio River and it’s historic development Human-scale connections between Ohio and Kentucky ideas Use the idea of “promenade” to create a pedestrian axis along riverfront. -Establish a connection between Ohio and Kentucky neighborhoods using pedestrian bridge walkways.





Ohio River is the primary ecological asset for Cincinnati. Protecting water quality is a civic responsibility.

goals Sustainable site and building design. Manage stormwater on site through permeable building materials and park development. Highlight river transportation and pedestrian development to inspire alternative travel routes and methods for downtown Cincinnati. facts

Understanding the Ohio River’s relation to Cincinnati informs patrons of how to responsibly develop the city in the future. Highlighting Cincinnati, Newport, and Covington’s role in the Civil War fosters a unifying identity for the area, creating a larger community. goals Teach by example showing building systems and infrastructure as developmental tools for Cincinnati. Connect user’s experience of exhibit and festival with site, time period, and region.

Residential and mixed-use development downtown reduces the amount of gasoline consumption per resident as well as reduces the need for downtown parking. Many riverfront lots are currently used for auxiliary festival parking. needs Impermeable services for boat ramps and docks, creating loading access into structure. Storage of chemicals used in boat maintenance and restoration. ideas Use the idea of “promenade” to create a pedestrian axis along riverfront. -Establish a connection between Ohio and Kentucky neighborhoods using pedestrian bridge walkways.

needs Clear system to connect user to site and history throughout design. Showcase riverboats with an emphasis on experience, leisure, and context. ideas Signage and infographic package throughout design to clearly explain history and site connections. Urban development maps to be placed across framework to inform new pedestrian and bike users and make travel inviting.





Introducing more uses into Cincinnati’s waterfront will attract more, varied use to the development Constant use establishes “eyes on the street,” making the site safer and friendlier for users. goals Reduce the ebb and flow of riverfront visitors that currently exists due to large amounts of stadium traffic Showcase versatility and mixed use throughout structure and site design to work toward a 24 hour neighborhood.

Direct relationship to Ohio River and waterfront Materiality with strong ties to historic river development Reference to Cincinnati’s historic manufacturing typographies and its Factory Beautiful movement. goals Large volumes of interior space that directly reference the river and human scale. Utilize clarity and transparency to foster educational experiences. Maintain democratic public spaces by allowing access.



In 2001, race riots caused by the shooting of an African American in Over The Rhine bitterly divided the city, sparking racial tension for the next ten years coupled with high crime rates. Active neighborhoods with more pedestrian traffic have been proven to curb crime through community responsibility. needs

Cincinnati’s historic building typographies from the waterfront, City Beautiful movement and Factory Beautiful movement give the design a great wealth of historical references. vaForms such as riverboat promenades are directly related to pedestrian scale on the water. needs

Clearly charted hours of occupancy within each programmatic element. Understand hours of operation around waterfront in terms of diagrammatic snapshots of district. ideas Incentivise use of exhibit and convention space rental during nonpeak hours of buildings within site. Mixed use guidelines are met within a larger framework for waterfront.

Inspiring environments establish an indoor-outdoor connection between exhibit and festival. Materials must be sustainable and durable to reduce environmental impact. ideas Repurposing of historic Cincinnati building materials such as terra cotta and brick to symbolize repurposing of the waterfront. Framing views according to historic impact. Use landscaping to catalyze public space.


major program requirements Riverboat collection exhibit boatyard

The client is a combined task force between the city of Cincinnati and a number of other groups. Ranging from festival organizers, development groups, and recreational riverboat companies already prominent on the Ohio River. Each group has different invested interest in the project.

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client groups Tall Stacks Festival Management Cincy Blues Society B&B Riverboat Company Cincinnati Parks Foundation The City of Cincinnati The Cincinnati Historical Society users Visitors to this site will be interested in the riverboat exhibits, river gallery space, and various exhibits, conventions, and events held throughout the year in conjunction with outdoor festivals. The building will attract tourists outside of Cincinnati, local residents, and pedestrian and bike commuters.

This collection and exhibit space is unlike traditional museums. The largest volume in the program, the space will house large, drydocked riverboats as part of a paid exhibit. Visitors will be able to enter and explore the vessels while the space offers year-round protection to private donor’s assets and a maintenance and restoration space. Includes public waterfront access and boat launching facility to be used in conjunction with Tall Stacks festival. Ohio River development gallery Gallery space that combines interactive exhibits with exterior perspectives on Ohio River development history. Whereas the riverboat exhibit space would put the past on display, the Gallery would join past development with present movements, showing the growth and of a living, dynamic waterfront. waterfront Festival Headquarters and outreach This administrative space connects festival organizers, nonprofits, and city committees for waterfront planning and improvement. This space features offices, meeting rooms, and a conference space. It is the permanent home for Tall Stacks Festival organizers.

space requirements collection hangar 45,000 sf storage facilities 8,000 sf

EXHIBIT 53,000 sf riverboat collection exhibit boatyard 67,600 sf

boundary water total area : 86,100 sf


ohio river development gallery 12,400 sf

waterfront festival headquarter and outreach 3,300 sf

connections and interface 2,800 sf

lobby 1,900 sf museum shop 900 sf

offices 10 x 120 sf meeting rooms 700 sf storage 150 sf administrative lounge 300 sf conference 800 sf restrooms 150 sf

restoration lab 13,000 sf machine shop 1,600 sf

collection hangar function Indoor component to boatyard that segues outdoor events into museum. Exhibits riverboats and Civil War era vessels. Include Covered docks and multiple tiers of dry docks to cover ranges of exhibits’ needs. Flexible space interfaces Yeatman’s Cove Park and downtown infrastructure.



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45,000 sf Equipment Large drydock stations to accommodate ships 50 feet in width. Water access for changing of exhibits with crane assistance. Flexible catwalk system to maneuver around exhibits and accommodate different sized craft. ECS


Covered and secure area. Semi-conditioned. Maximum natural daylight for interior. Functional Needs Large operable opening to south to allow space to merge with festivals Ability to secure exhibits during non-festival hours Experiential goals Large, industrial aesthetic that exhibits change and versatility for purpose. Connecting exhibits that can become part of a larger room for flexibility. Large signage and infographics establish a language that explains how the boats and building function.

restoration lab

interactive gallery



Large enough for a single large vessel and support space, the restoration lab is connected directly with the collection hangar. This space would be operated by the Cincinnati Historical Society and used to maintain, repair, and renovate aging riverboats. 13,000 sf Equipment Access to woodshop and metalshop equipment in a separate support space Drydock stations on movable platforms. ECS Heavy ventilated area to accommodate painting and finishing. Covered space. Semi-conditioned.

Gallery space that focuses on the history of the Ohio River’s development in Civil War era. The space highlights Ohio River’s history as a major working river. Incorporates views of existing conditions with exhibits. Places user on boundary. Different exhibits on new infrastructure and local development show Cincinnati’s improvement. 10,000 sf Equipment Versatile lighting scheme for different exhibits. Multimedia accommodations for interactive galleries. ECS Covered, secure space. Conditioned areas for Civil War era artifacts.

Functional Needs

Functional Needs

Separate dock and water access to move vessels into and out of lab. Safe storage of materials and potential chemical waste. Experiential goals

Storage space and access to galleries for setup and removal. Connections to the larger waterfront scheme may involve interfacing to bridge. Experiential goals

The lab will be a transparent double to the main exhibition room, with glazing that separates the spaces. Patrons in the collection hangar will be able to view riverboats being renovated.

Long, linear in form, the gallery would function as an abstract timeline, symbolizing progression and change on the waterfront. Unlike traditional museum galleries, this is not a neutral space; the space will put users in contexts rather than attempt to remove them with architectural purity.

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program size



boat storage

exbt Riverboat Collection

interactive gallery

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exbt exbt shop

restoration lab store


space relation interactive gallery exbt exbt exbt store lobby Riverboat Collection

administrative outreach

restoration lab shop boat storage

site description


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Located on the Ohio side bank of the Ohio River, the proposed site is owned by the city of Cincinnati as an undeveloped surface parking lot west of Yeatman’s Cove Park. The Site makes use of one of these flood-zone surface parking areas, the paving of which is striped and retreats into the Ohio River. Surface parking still exists to the northeast and west of the site, as well as parking structure adjoining the U.S. Bank Arena to the northwest. The site is approximately 101,000 square feet, trapezoidal in shape with about 590 feet riverside. The program of the site would require 85% of the site at most, assuming flattest buildout. Actual location of building will be determined in schematic design, as well as secondary and tertiary sites to connect this building in the larger framework.

national steamboat monument

central bridge

current river access

adjacencies The site to the west is owned by the Hamilton County Board and houses The Great American Ballpark. A necessity exists to include this structure within the framework, as it is new, costly, and likely to be around for many years. This will be explored at the beginning of schematic design. The site to the north is owned by Arena Management Holdings and is occupied by the U.S. Bank Arena, a large indoor arena that houses concerts, sporting events, and shows. It has an attached parking structure. The site to the northeast is Yeatman’s Cove Park, home of the serpentine wall. This was originally the home of the Tallstacks Riverboat festival and features large, undulating seating facing the river that doubles as a levee. Interfacing with this park is crucial for this structure, as it houses many outdoor festivals throughout the year. The site has direct connections to the Taylor Southgate Central Bridge. Built in 1995, it connects downtown Cincinnati to Newport, Kentucky through route 27. This building needs an effective interface to this bridge to encourage pedestrian and bike travel through the river corridor.

LEFT: View from Central Bridge looking westward. From right to left is the US Bank Arena, the Great American Ballpark, National Steamboat Memorial, Riverfront Park (currently in construction), and John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.

TOP RIGHT: The site is still used as a public landing for different riverboats. Like many long-term docked riverboats on the river, The Majestic is a casino that switches landings monthly. BOTTOM RIGHT: Lowest level road access. The rails are remnants of old streetcar tracks that used to run across the riverfront.

LEFT: View Under Bridge Facing westward. Lot moves into tiers of Serpentine Wall in Yeatman’s Cove Park to the east. Large staircase moves crowds from the stadium to event parking. CENTER: View across river from Newport facing north. Behind US Bank Arena is the Great American Tower, part of the newly developed Banks Project.

RIGHT: The National Steamboat Monument is an interactive art installation that responds to touch. The smaller stacks emit churning noises and steam on occasion.

ohio river valley



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The merging of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers forms the Ohio River valley. As the largest tributary to the Mississippi, it has created a line of growth and prosperity by connecting Pittsburgh and the northeast to the Mississippi. The river had great significance to Native American tribes, with many civilizations forming along its path. During the 19th century, the river was the southern border to the Northwest Territory. During the Civil, it was the boundary of freedom and slavery for fleeing slaves in narrow locations.


1952 view of RIVERFRONT stadium and site

pittsburgh cincinnati



linear growth along ohio river

surrounding neighborhoods To the east of the site is Mount Adams, a geographic landmark as well as a neighborhood that features a small cluster of high income housing adjacent to downtown. Like others, it featured long inclines that connected downtown to the hard-to-access Mt. Adams. All city inclines were taken out in 1949 with Urban Renewal. North of downtown lies Over the Rhine. Originally settled by German immigrants, it is the most intact urban historic district in the United States. Tall, thin rowhouses and tight neighborhood streets characterize OTR, and a lack of heavy development has kept that fabric in place. OTR also is home to the largest socioeconomic disparity in Cincinnati, and was the home of the race riots in 2001. Across the river is Newport and Covington, Kentucky. Historically counterbalancing development of downtown Cincinnati, Newport gained the reputation of “Sin City” due to its casinos. Currently, it has large retail and recreation attractions at Newport On The Levee, a large waterfront development that connects to the Purple People Bridge, a pedestrian bridge. Covington lies to the west of Newport and is the business center of Kentucky’s side of the river.

n o i g re d an ry e sit histo


NEMO location Amsterdam, Netherlands client Netherlands Institute for Technology and Industry architect Renzo Piano Building Workshop

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square footage Exhibition Space - 46,284 sf Roof Terrace – 3,750 sf Total Area – 125,668 sf

Located between Amsterdam’s historic city center and the harbor, the newMetropolis National Center for Science and Technology occupies a site that is historically and contextually difficult. Called NEMO, the building establishes connectivity between the city and harbor while straddling an underwater tunnel that connects the opposite side of the city to Amsterdam. NEMO’s program is developed as a large, open floor plan that houses exhibition space, a cinema, a science theatre, and a learning laboratory in a single structure. Its design and aesthetic comes directly out of its unusual urban context; serving as the endpoint of a pier, the building is flanked by docks and climbs to point across the harbor with a large, accessible roof terrace used for city events. Interior space in NEMO is large and minimal with an emphasis on versatility for accommodating and changing its interactive galleries. Spaces are mostly artificially lit, with an emphasis on inward-focused programmatic elements. NEMO’s manages to combine site and program by letting its urban context and site receive heavy priority in its design.

outside, inside

plans, elevation, section

mediatheque location Sendai, Japan client City of Sendai architect Toyo Ito & Associates square footage Total Area – 232,500 sf

Sendai’s Mediatheque is a museum design that solves numerous issues of combining interactive galleries with surrounding context and other programmatic elements. Housing a library, media ateliers open to the public, audio-visual and facilities, and an exhibition center in one structure, Mediatheque was meant to be a prototype for a public building in a new millennium. Mediatheque’s most striking design move incorporates large tubular space frames to connect floors to one another. Termed by architect Toyo Ito as “equality of perspective,” this accomplishes to condense infrastructure to and from floors, including services and earthquake resistance. This keeps the façade open and allows vertical views from the large, open floor slabs both to above and below. The end result is interactive gallery space with a connection to surrounding context.

integrated structure versus skin


centro kursaal location San Sebastian, Spain client City of San Sebastian architect Raphael Moneo square footage Total Area - 324,500 sf

Located at the pivotal mouth of the Urumea River emptying into the Biscay Bay, the Centro Kursaal maintains an important link between downtown San Sebastian, the Zurriola Beach, and the multiple development types in between. The Centro Kursaal sits on the site of the original Great Kursaal, a palace built in 1921 that incorporated a casino, restaurant, and several high occupancy theaters. A design competition was held in 1989 to build over the then-dismantled Great Kursaal to house similar programmatic elements including an auditorium, multipurpose halls, restaurants, and exhibition space. The Centro Kursaal is both modern and true to traditional Basque typologies of large seaside buildings that house important civic and recreational functions. Formally, the structure is divided into two large cubic forms that connect through a shared, low profile ground floor which houses mixed-use functions. The larger cube holds an eighteen-hundred-person concert hall while the smaller holds an auditorium meant for conferences. The two are connected through a low profile ground floor that has storefronts on the Zurriola Hiribidea and an encompassing public walkway with beach access.

view from bay While the Centro Kursaal has a monumental presence on the site, the building operates at important levels of scale, using layering and “in-betweenness� to increase versatility and use throughout the day. Kursaal shows that a convention center can be a better urban neighbor to a city than simply large, generic space. The result is a democratic and inclusive monument on the San Sebastian waterfront.

box within a box

site plan and floor plans

granville island boatyard location Vancouver, Canada client City of Vancouver

Located in between downtown and south Vancouver, Granville Island was formed in 1916 as a manufacturing center. Then-called “Industrial Island,� factories on the island produced construction and mining materials including shingles, chains, barrels, nails, and rivets. Serious decline in industry after the Great Depression combined with factory fires forced business to close and relocate off the island. The island was redeveloped into a large public market in the 1970s and has seen incredible success. Housing such functions as a public market, theatres, restaurants, and microbreweries, the development keeps much of its existing historical docks and uses it as a framework for business. The Granville Island Boatyard and Dock serves as recreational boat docking space around the island, a publicly accessible maintenance yard, and long-term storage for larger vessels. The Boatyards largest asset to the island is its market adjacencies and connection to the public market. Visitors are free to move about the boatyards, serving to nuance the recreational and educational public experience. The boatyard has excellent connections to downtown and surrounding areas, including two ferry lines and a streetcar route originally designed to connect Granville Island to the Olympic Village.

aerial view

maintenance on display

reuse of industrial fabric

books Ambler, Charles Henry. 1932. A history of transportation in the Ohio valley, with special reference to its waterways, trade, and commerce from the earliest period to the present time. Glendale, Calif: Arthur H. Clark Co. Bigham, Darrel E. 1998. Towns & villages of the lower Ohio. Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky.


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Blight, David W., and Brooks D. Simpson. 1997. Union & emancipation: essays on politics and race in the Civil War era. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. Clubbe, John. 1992. Cincinnati observed: architecture and history. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. Darragh, Joan, and James S. Snyder. 1993. Museum design: planning and building for art. New York: Oxford University Press in association with the American Federation of Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Donzel, Catherine. 1998. New museums. Paris: Telleri.

Donovan, Frank Robert. 1966. River boats of America. New York: Crowell. Farr, Libby Dawson. 1994. Art museums as bridges across time: four American collegiate art museums of the 1980s. Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Oregon, 1994. Greer, Nora Richter. 1998. Architecture transformed: new life for old buildings. Gloucester, Mass: Rockport Publishers. Hadid, Zaha, and Markus Dochantschi. 2004. Zaha Hadid: space for art ; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati ; Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art. Baden: Lars MĂźller. Henderson, Justin. 1998. Museum architecture. Gloucester, Mass: Rockport Publishers. ItĹ?, Toyoo. 2003. Sendai mediatheque. Barcelona: Actar. Painter, Sue Ann, Alice Weston, Beth Sullebarger, and Jayne Merkel. 2006. Architecture in Cincinnati: an illustrated history of designing and building an American city. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press in association with the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati.

journals Reid, Whitelaw. 1868. Ohio in the war: her statesmen, her generals, and soldiers. Cincinnati, Ohio: Moore, Wilstach & Baldwin. Williams, Paul Harvey. 2007. Memorial museums: the global rush to commemorate atrocities. Oxford: Berg.

Blum, Andrew. “The Peace Maker: As He Works on the Landscape at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, Observers Wonder: Can Walter Hood Bridge the Divide Between Public Space and In-your-face Architecture?.” Metropolis. 25. no. 1 (2005): 118. “Granville Island Renewal, Vancouver.” The Architectural Review. 167. (1980): 324. Larsen, Carl G. “Adaptive Reuse: Singapore River.” Mimar : Architecture inDevelopment. (1984): 32-39. “Public Market Suited to All Tastes.” USA Today. 2. no. 8 (2010). “Renzo-Piano-Building-Workshop Science-andTechnology-Museum “NewMetropolis” Amsterdam, the Netherlands 1992-1997.” A U-ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM. 329. (1998): 76-91.

Ryan, Raymund. “Topographic translucence.” The Architectural Review. (2000): 44.

Boundary Water : Thesis Program Booklet  

This document contains the completed program for my final architecture project. It includes program research, major issues, extensive site a...