Duke Energy Center

Merit Award

Duke Energy Center Façade Graphics

Expansion of Cincinnati’s Duke Energy Center was designed to help position the convention center as a key venue for sought-after national and regional events. Part of the challenge was creating very large-scale, meaningful identification and placemaking graphics that would attract attention, unify the old and new parts of the building, and fit within a modest budget.

Early on in the process, three major components of the building were identified as high-impact areas that would be the focus of design efforts and budgets pooled from the environmental graphics, interiors, and architecture allowances. One of them was its western façade. Expansion of the center across two city blocks positioned the façade on the western edge of downtown, in clear view of motorists passing on the nearby interstate highway.

The design team jumped at the opportunity to activate the city’s skyline with a bold graphic statement. The western façade incorporates a 50-ft.-high, 320-ft.-long sculptural element that welcomes residents and visitors. Seen from a distance, it is a series of glistening metal panels set at 45-degree angles inside a three-dimensional steel grid, forming the word “Cincinnati.” At closer range, the composition begins to pixelate and appears as an abstract kinetic sculpture. The block-long icon helps define the city, acts as a beacon to approaching vehicles, adds a new element to the streetscape, and provides a bold new identity for the center itself.

Jury Comments: 

“The design of the exterior signage creates a brand image for the city that is dynamic in its application and innovative in its execution. Traditional (analog) lighting of the angled panels creates a pixelated (digital) image that changes with relation to the viewer’s point of view. Playful, powerful, iconic.”

“Simply obvious and obviously simple, this is playful placemaking.”

Design Firm: 

Sussman/Prejza & Company, LMN Architects

Client: 

City of Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering

Location City: 

Cincinnati, Ohio

Project Area: 

N/A

Open Date: 

N/A

Project Budget: 

N/A

Photo Credits: 

J. Miles Wolf, Hillary Jaye

Design Team: 

Sussman/Prejza: Deborah Sussman (principal in charge), Hillary Jaye (project manager) LMN Architects: Mark Reddington, Erik Indvik

Consultants: 

Cincinnati Architects Collaborative (architect of record), HLB Lighting (lighting consultant)

Fabricators: 

Hunt Construction Group (Cinicinnati icon), Poblocki Sign Company (naming rights signs), Daktronics (LED naming rights signs)

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