The developers working on the Uptown Gateway project in Avondale have updated their plans for the first two buildings in what is expected to be a more than $200 million development.
Terrex Development & Construction and Messer Construction Co., which are developing Uptown Gateway at the southeast corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Reading Road, have updated designs for the office building that will be home to the University of Cincinnati’s digital futures building as well as a speculative office building.
Peter Horton, principal and co-founder of Terrex, said both buildings have been designed to be unique additions to the region.
“We were charged to develop buildings that don’t look like office buildings,” Horton told me. “These are innovative office and research facilities.”
To get a look at the latest plans for Uptown Gateway, click on the images above.
Terrex and Messer are working with GBBN on the design of the speculative office building. UC worked with KieranTimberlake, a Philadelphia-based architecture firm, on the design of the digital futures building. KieranTimberlake has been collaborating with GBBN.
Horton said the two buildings are meant to look like they belong together but not look the same.
“UC wanted to create something unique,” Horton said.
The other big design change to the Uptown Gateway plan is originally the developers planned a stepped garage podium, which would have had the hotel on a higher level than the two office buildings. Instead, Uptown Gateway will have one, level podium above three levels of garage parking.
“This makes it far more pedestrian friendly,” Horton said. “Everything will be kept at one level.”
With the change, more of the garage will be visible than originally intended, but Horton said the team is working through the design to screen the garage. When the site was going to match the grade of Martin Luther King Drive, pedestrians would have always been walking up and down from one building to the next.
The team is working with Site Design Group Ltd. on design for the plaza to make it as active and useful as possible. Horton said the plan is for the space to have public art and different, programmable spaces for music events or lectures. There also is a planned space between the digital futures building and the spec building for outdoor meetings.
Horton said the design team also worked hard to push vehicles out of the plaza as much as possible. It was important for the development, with input from the community, to create an active plaza that can be used on a regular basis.
The digital futures building is now a bit larger than originally anticipated, closer to 190,000 square feet than 180,000 square feet. The building picked up some additional space as it shifted a portion off the garage podium.
Horton said KieranTimberlake are masters at efficient design. The building is designed with solar shading screens that create a geometric pattern and are the primary external feature of the building. The screens also help reduce heat gain by redirecting sunlight.
The digital futures building is planned to include a coffee shop and cafe, which is expected to be an amenity for the entire site, not just the building.
The second building, which is being developed without any signed tenants at this point, will still be 180,000 square feet. This building will have a usable third-floor balcony on the east side of the building.
Horton said the development team has no less than a half dozen plans for the building amenity space in the spec building. He does expect the spec building will have some shared amenity space on the first floor.
Terrex and Messer already have received a good amount of interest from companies that are interested in leasing a couple of floors or the entire building.
The hotel for the site is still being designed. Terrex and Messer are teaming up with Brandicorp and Lexington Management Corp. to develop a hotel at the Uptown Gateway project. As soon as they have the design for the hotel, they will take all three in for final design review.
Site work has officially started on Uptown Gateway, with garage construction expected to start shortly after.