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MICHAEL BENKERT | Architectural Portfolio

UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI Master of Architecture Bachelor of Science in Architecture

PORTFOLIO DIRECTORY 100 WEST ELDER DEVELOPMENT | Master's Thesis Project . . . . . . . . . . . .


NEWPORT APARTMENT BUILDING | CR Architecture. . . . . . . . . . . . .


'THE GABLEFRONT' | Who's Next 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


PORCH PROJECT | Over-the-Rhine Community Housing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 'THE FOUNDRY AT MADISON' | Niehoff Studio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


'THE EXCURSION' | Billes Home Design Competition . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


CRANBROOK SPA | SEC Studio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 WILLIAM McDONOUGH + PARTNERS WORK | Co-op . . . . . . . . . . . .


MULBERRY REDEVELOPMENT | Over-the-Rhine Studio. . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

100 WEST ELDER DEVELOPMENT | Master's Thesis Project


Though desirable for buildings to be economic, environmental, and social assets that benefit both shareholders and stakeholders, the fragmented development process curtails such building projects. The inherent integration in the architect-developer model, however, facilitates the aims of ‘triple top line’ development and is evidenced in this mixeduse redevelopment located along Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati.This design project, which was developed in conjunction with a 100+ page thesis document in fulfillment of the University of Cincinnati's Master of Architecture requirements is approached from the standpoint of an architect-developer and features both a building design and project pro forma (which includes an operating statement, costs summary, and financing breakdown). The 100 West Elder project is composed of two, first floor commercial spaces with six residential units above, all of which share an outdoor roof terrace above the new addition. The development is made financially feasible through the leveraging of historic tax credits and a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) as equity, both of which represent social and environmental value.




As an intern architect with CR Architecture + Design

water and Cincinnati skyline. Expected to achieve LEED

in Cincinnati, I was a member of a small project team

for Homes certification when construction is completed

tasked with the design and construction documentation

in 2012, the building was designed and detailed exclusively

of a 93-unit apartment building in Newport, Kentucky.

in Revit, allowing for superior coordination, both in-house,

The development, which is located along the banks of the

and with the structural and MEP consultants who were also

Ohio River and sits in front of a nearby flood levee wall, is

utilizing the BIM software to produce their own drawings.

raised above the 100-year floodplain via structured parking,

My individual contributions to the project ranged from unit

which also provides residents with exceptional views of the

design, to detailing, to area calculations and code research.


'THE GABLEFRONT' | Who's Next 2 0 The GableFront Home is my submission for the Who's Next 2 0 competition sponsored by FreeGreen The project is designed to suit the profile of a young family looking to use a loan to purchase an energy efficient home with a traditional exterior and modern interiors The GableFront is configured to fit within the constraints of the long narrow lot lines populating many of the nations older suburbs and is dimensioned to accommodate standard framing modules to minimize material waste and cut down on labor With regards to program, the first floor consists of the living and dining area, the kitchen, and the master suite while the second floor features two children's bedrooms, a homework nook, and a covered outdoor space Leveraging natural systems to produce open, airy, light-filled interiors with little to no additional upfront costs the home is comparable in scope and size to other single-family homes, making it eligible for financing, yet provides a design quality above and beyond much of what is currently on the market

Floor Plan Key 01 - Main Entry 02 - Front Porch 03 - Living Area 04 - Dining Area 05 - Kitchen 06 - Half Bathroom 07 - Master Bedroom 08 - Master Bathroom 09 - Basement (below) 10 - Office Nook 11 - Children's Bedroom 12 - Full Bathroom 13 - Laundry Room 14 - Children's Bedroom 15 - Rear Porch * - Garage Not Pictured

PORCH PROJECT | Over-the-Rhine Community Housing


This project was completed as part of a summer internship for Over-the-Rhine Community Housing in Cincinnati and serves as a gateway to the new City Home development on Pleasant Street. The previous porch for the Over-the-Rhine Community Housing office had been converted to accomodate an additional bathroom in an unsightly and structurally unstable manner and yet was poised to anchor a multi-million dollar development the organization was collaborating on with the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) and Eber Development. Obviously, the old porch was not making a good first impression on potential buyers and needed to be replaced in a context that was both sensitive to the historic building and complementary to the new construction. The new form of the structure acknowledges historic porches in the neighborhood while the color scheme reflects the patterning of the box bay windows, which is a staple of the City Home project. Permit drawing for the project were reviewed and stamped by local architect, Alice Emmons.



'The Foundry at Madison' is a development proposal composed by myself and two classmates as part of the 2009 Niehoff Urban Design Studio. The site, a former machine manufacturing campus, is located in the Cincinnati suburb of Oakley, and is bordered by a major highway to the west, big box retail to the north, and a large non-denominational church to the east. Our planning concept focuses on utilizing the site to connect these otherwise fragmented activity centers (along with Oakley Square) through a network of ‘great streets’ to provide access and create a sense of place, which is currently lacking. The economics and program of the development are centered around the GO Cincinnati Plan, which was released in 2008 to help the city increase its tax base through targeted place-based developments. The Foundry meets all parking and SLP requirements, and is phased in such a way that the project retains a level of financial feasibility lacking from most student projects. Rendered perspectives by teammate, Katie Conner

'THE EXCURSION' | Billes Home Design Competition


‘The Excursion’ is a sustainable affordable single-family residence designed for an infill site in Uptown New Orleans. The design is influenced by three staples of the New Orleans’ Culture: the ‘shotgun’ house, the front porch, and the streetcar, and is lifted 8’ off the ground to avoid water damage from a potential storm surge. In terms of ecology, strategically placed operable windows permit cross-ventilation and allow for abundant natural lighting, while SIPs construction ensures a tight building envelope. Economically, solar thermal panels and photovoltaics help lower utility bills, while a versatile layout permits the owners to rent out space as an additional source of income. ‘The Excursion’ is expected to achieve LEED Gold status while maintaining affordability.



The Cranbrook Spa and Wellness Center project was a culmination of two

contrasts not only reinforce the design intent, but enable a great deal of systems

quarters of integrated studios in which the issues of structure, environment,

integration with regards to structure, environment, and construction. The

and construction were thoroughly examined and integrated into an individual

inhabitable brick masses take on multiple roles within the project as they help

building design.The architectural intent of this project is for the building to serve

to defining program, resist gravity and lateral loads, contain various mechanical

as a mediator between the formal aesthetic of the Cranbrook campus and the

systems, and house all means of vertical circulation. This allows for the voids in

organic nature of the forest beyond.This is achieved by approaching the building

between to be completely open and extremely flexible spaces in the event that

as a forest of heavy brick masses contrasted with light-filled volumes. These

the user needs to make changes to the program down the line.




Working for William McDonough + Partners was career changing in that it redefined the way I view architecture and design as a whole. All the projects I worked on in the WM+P office were crafted with human and environmental health taking top priority and with principles of nature (such as waste equals food, utilizing current solar income, and celebrating diversity) serving as primary design guidelines.The ultimate goal of this Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy being the creation of “net positive” projects in which buildings work like trees and cities like forests. Some of the notable projects I worked on during my six months at WM+P included Brad Pitt’s “Make It Right” project in New Orleans, Hines’ Isola project in Milan, Italy, and the Greenbridge mixed-use development in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Personal responsibilities included model-making, computer rendering, materials research, diagramming and exploratory studies

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MULBERRY REDEVELOPMENT | Over-the-Rhine Studio This group studio project exploring sustainable/affordable housing opportunities takes form in the redevelopment of two adjacent properties in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati. The Mulberry project is unique in that it is just as much a real estate development project as it is an architectural one, requiring site selection, property purchase solutions, and funding proposals in addition to design work. It was the first studio project any of the team members had taken on in which budget became a factor in design decisions . The design driver for the project is a trombe wall made of salvaged windows whose structural grid wraps the existing buildings and establishes the geometry for the exterior decking systems and surrounding site development. This strategy unifies design elements, visually distinguishes old and new construction, and provides residents with privacy and thermal protection from the elements. The team structure proved beneficial in that it allowed for the detailed exploration of multiple systems ranging from material selections to mechanical systems to site development, pricing, and energy calculations. ***Rendering courtesy of teammate, Jess Linz.



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