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2014 MCHAP

Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art

Zaha Hadid Architects

Cincinnati, OH, USA



Zaha Hadid/Zaha Hadid Architects Ed Gaskin/Zaha Hadid Architects Markus Dochantschi/Zaha Hadid Architects


KZF Design (Local Architect) THP Limited (Structural Engineer) Jane Wernick Associates (Structural Engineer) Heapy Engineering (MEP Engineers) Arup (Acoustic Engineers)


Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art


Helene Binet Paul Warchol Roland Halbe


This Center will move contemporary art away from the fringes and literally bringing it into the centre of the city. It must expressing a commitment to engaging a diverse public, creating an environment that encourages a challenging, playful dialogue between the city and the museum, the artists and the space, and the art and the visitors. The Center is not defined by a collection and a set approach to art. Rather, it is a changeable site that is open and receptive to the creative diversity of artists from around the globe. The new building must provide spaces for temporary exhibitions, site-specific installations, and performances, but not for a permanent collection. Other program elements include an education facility, offices, art preparation areas, a museum store, a cafe and public areas. With a system of ramps prominently positioned throughout the building, visitors will be able to see each other moving through the space and interacting with the art. In this way, the architecture facilitates the viewing of art as a collective experience. The fundamental concept is a jigsaw puzzle of diverse exhibition spaces: long, short, broad, or tall spaces, each with different conditions. This concept is expressed in the exterior configuration so that from the outside, allowing passers-by to read the volumes of the building.


The design must respond to Center's distinct identity as a non-collecting institution dedicated to presenting the freshest ideas in contemporary visual and performing art, and as a cultural hub within the city. By creating a building that interacts with the public and works of art, we will be pushed and inspired to do things in completely new ways. We want to invite artists to create work for these spaces and to engage directly with the architecture, creating opportunities at the Contemporary Arts Center that won't present themselves in any other space. The Center will be dedicated to presenting new developments in painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, performance art and new media. It does not have a permanent collection. Because the Center's focus is on organizing changing exhibitions and performances, it must offer its audiences entirely new experiences with each programming cycle. The Center must significantly strengthen our ability to make contemporary art available to the broadest spectrum of Cincinnati residents and visitors. The design should reflect the Center's vital role in the community as an advocate of innovation, diversity and free inquiry. It will enhance our role not only in the region, but in the national and international art world as well.


The architecture of the new Contemporary Arts Center building redefines the boundaries between art and life in various ways. The Center acts as a socializing force in Cincinnati. The building engages with the community, helping to broaden the audience for contemporary art. It plays an important role in developing local art enthusiasts into an involved community. In addition, the Center is an important civic space-like a public living room-inserted in the heart of downtown. The openness of the ground level and the penetration of light into various parts of the building make the passer-by aware that there is something exciting going on inside. The Contemporary Arts Center is many spaces congregated together, allowing much greater variety and supporting the presentation of two or three shows at the same time. Collectively, the variety of spaces gives a clearly recognizable identity to the Center, ensuring that the experience of viewing art here will be distinct from any other venue. Rather than presuming that flexibility depends on blandness, the building offers diverse conditions to choose from, each with a particular character. This creates a more engaging experience for the visitor. The architecture is able to instigate and influence the process of making, as well as viewing, art, and gives new sense of possibility.

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