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Fav Building Friday: Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art

Katie Gordon, Grad Architect, shares her visit to her favorite building while visiting Cincinnati.

The Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio is by far one of my favorite buildings that I have had the opportunity to visit. A few years back, I went on a day fieldtrip around Ohio as an architecture student from Ball State University. It was designed by the late Zaha Hadid. There aren’t too many of Zaha Hadid buildings here in the Midwest so, as one of my favorite female architects, I was very excited to see one of her buildings in person. After visiting the University of Cincinnati (if you haven’t seen the DAAP building on campus, I would suggest it, as it is very unique) we made our way downtown for the Rosenthal Center. It is one of the top 20 of the most iconic architectural buildings within Cincinnati. The exterior has a blocky, boxy façade, which doesn’t immediately look like a museum but is certainly catching to your eyes.


As soon as you walk in, there is a large curved concrete wall that runs along the back of the building. At the time, there was a kinetic light installation that swayed and created its own light with its movement, it was fascinating. Every surface is either black or white, with a few pops of colors here and there. It has these narrow strips of lights on the ceiling that guide you through the building, lighting up the lobby, and the exhibit halls. The staircases leading to the higher floors crisscross, reaching across open areas and running diagonally, while the rest of the structure is mainly orthogonal, allowing circulation to feel more flexible and comfortable for people moving from exhibit to exhibit. Within each floor, there are large open areas and close intimate areas where you can examine the art as much as you want.

Some of the exhibits being shown at that time were beautiful nature prints, cooperative exhibits, and there was music playing upstairs which, at that time, was blocked off as there was a new display being set up for that evening. There is a large interactive area upstairs, made for the education of children and for people who are children at heart, which many of my fellows and I availed ourselves to, all the while enjoying the space that was created by one of the most legendary architects of our time.




Overall the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art is a beautiful jewel in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. Its unique architectural style and interesting exhibits work together, each one made better by the other. I look forward to the next time I can visit.


#FavBuildingFriday

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