“Earlier this week, Docomomo was made aware of imminent plans to negatively alter the nationally significant Terrace Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. The current owner was poised to accept an offer from a developer to savagely strip its innovative stack-bond brick and employ an all-glass approach to the exterior. While the Cincinnati Preservation Association continues to advocate for a historic tax credit based approach, without a new developer or a change of heart, the status of the building is in question.
In their efforts to find a preservation-minded developer, the Cincinnati Preservation Association utilized a number of unique strategies to increase awareness and appreciation for the building. Paul Muller, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association stated, “because the current condition of the building makes it difficult for the public to appreciate its significant, we arranged access to the Terrace Plaza for a preservation minded photographer, Phil Armstrong. Phil recreated a number of the 1948 Ezra Stoller photographs. The side by side photos have been very helpful in showing the brilliance of original design.” He added the Cincinnati Preservation Association also “hosted a visit to the Terrace Plaza by Natalie de Blois a few years before her death. She was delighted and I believe it was the first time she was ever at the building.”
Built in 1945-46, the Terrace Plaza was the first International-style hotel built in the United States; and the first commission of Skidmore Owings and Merrill to be widely published and propelled the firm into the national spotlight. It was a pivotal project for SOM because it used an interdisciplinary design team, many of which who went on to their own remarkable careers. Most notably, its chief designer, Natalie de Blois, was a rare pioneering woman architect and member of a team of other designers who conceived of every detail of the building—interiors, furniture, textiles, uniforms, tableware, graphics—and even ashtrays.
As the Cincinnati Preservation Association continues to have “almost daily discussions with the owner´s team looking for creative solutions, ” without the enlistment a local or national developer, time may be running out for the Terrace Plaza.”
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