Brewing Heritage Trail, Cincinnati

Practice Area


Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment


Project Vision

The Brewing Heritage Trail is an urban trail system that celebrates the City of Cincinnati’s brewing heritage and creates a positive, marketable image for the city. The approximately two-mile Trail follows Cincinnati streets through the Central Business District, Pendleton and Over-the-Rhine neighborhoods. It’s a dynamic experience, existing in both the physical and virtual worlds.

The connection to beer makes the Trail approachable and fun, but it’s not all about beer history. Brewing was one of the largest industries in Cincinnati, helping shape the city’s economy; its consumption helped mold the city’s culture and image.

The design team was challenged to create a world-class walking trail to celebrate that vibrant heritage. Historic brewery locations are scattered throughout the city making it necessary to connect them all through a series of physical installations that integrate into the landscape of the city. Each historic site along the trail was to be commemorated and celebrated with signage that tells the story of the building’s historic significance. Installations along the trail in the public right of way and community spaces were to convey information relating to significant brewing stories to connect with the architecture and culture of the city. Additionally, the trail was intended to signify an investment in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood to build momentum for urban renewal.

Branding creates a consistent identity for the Trail throughout every dimension of the experience. The logomark embodies a seal of quality with malts and hops woven throughout the iconography of the crown. The barrel form represents the vessels used for production and distribution of the Queen City’s greatest export.

The Trail experience begins with physical markers, signs, and installations that are designed to be timeless, yet create a vibrant, energetic platform for storytelling. A series of bronze medallions guides the way from one of the four Hop-On launch points on the Trail, connecting the Trail between brewery sites and other points of interest. Smaller reflective castings embedded in the sidewalk provide directional cues at all street crossings as well as act as “bread-crumbs” to reinforce the Trail between city blocks. Both of the navigational medallion elements also act to build awareness as people encounter them throughout the neighborhoods that the Trail winds through.

Elements of the design are iconic to the brewing industry and the materiality is representative of the surrounding environment. The pipes design element references brewery infrastructure and offer a dynamic and flexible system for configuring informational panels fabricated from half-inch metal with names of the brewery cut through, revealing the surroundings.

The beer barrel becomes a vehicle for delivering historical content, creating gathering places and memorable experiences. At high profile locations like Grant Park, the half-barrel exhibit delivers important contextual and thematic content while creating a sense of place and anchoring the Hop-On launch-point.

The Brewing Heritage Trail has cultivated a sense of pride in the community and the businesses that represent the district. The Trail will also contribute tremendous economic value to Cincinnati and the Tri-state through tourism, preservation and education.

Project Details
If you’re gonna do beer, give it a 'beery' feel. This project takes a very common urban streetscape typology and pumps it up with physical and textural allusions to brewing and period-specific industry and culture. Brawny weight and details like heavy iron pipes, steel plates and oak barrel planks eloquently evoke an appropriately gritty sensibility, and period photography and wall murals amplify and deepen the efficacy of the storytelling.
Juror 1
I love how the elemental forms and materiality respond to and compliment the character of the surrounding environment, providing a range of interpretive and wayfinding functions.
Juror 2
Design Team

Chad Marchese (lead designer), Mike Keifling (project architect), Jim Stapleton (project architect, project management), Erin Kessen (design intent), Jeff Waggoner (documentation), Christian Jenkins (brand logo mark, identity system)

Project Budget



BDCURC (overall vision), Parson Brinkerhoff (project management), Queen City History (copywriting), Prus Construction (construction, implementation), We Have Become Vikings (website, app)