An Ecology for Making
2012 - unbuilt
an entry for the Cincinnati Industrial Arts Center Live/Make competition

A problem when re-appropriating light industrial space for Making is that the relationship with the public is different. Rather than interfacing only through a distant marketplace, Makers are atomized in society. They thrive on constant interaction amongst themselves and with their customers. Knowledge is shared, material and tools are traded. Our aim is to provide a framework for an ecosystem that is able to support a range of scales of Maker, from a single freelancer or inventor to more robust businesses with full-time employees and permanent equipment. Freelancers are able to find steady employment and leverage the shared equipment of the Center to advance their own ideas. Employers are able to draw from a rich pool of talent, with the flexibility to grow their business by outsourcing to neighbors or freelancers, or annex adjacent spaces as they become available.

Given the prior instabilities in the slope above the site, and the Cincinnati's hills' proclivities towards movement, we feel that a certain amount of geotechnical work will need to be done to ensure that the building is stable in the future. Rather than hiding this work, we propose to make it a feature of the site. We propose a system of precast concrete units which could become seating or planters lower down, merging into a battered retaining wall above. By cutting back into the slope at the back of the site, we have created a circulation alley on the lower level and a park on the upper level that serves as a second entrance for the residential component as well as accessible open space.

The ground floor of the original building is flexible - its repeating structural grid makes it easy to move partition or combine spaces as program requirements grow and change.

The new wing to the East houses staff and office functions, as well as a large multi-functional hall that we call the Refectory. A lightly-programmed open space, the Refectory could be used for computer lab and flex workstations and a cafe, or be cleared for events or presentations. Though not in the original program, we feel that this sort of social space is vital to making the Live/Make Center work.

The residential floor is accessed by way of a stair from the alley that cuts through this retaining wall, and by two ramps that rise up from the East and West of the building behind the wall. By shifting vertical circulation outside the building and avoiding mechanical elevators, the ground floor program is kept as flexible as possible.