Fort Washington Investments - Trading in a Fishbowl

MariBeth Rahe, president and CEO of Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc., knew that when the company moved to its location on Broadway, "We wanted our focal point to be our trading floor." Three of the four trading room walls are glass, offering views of the Ohio River. Clients are wowed by the high tech room (it has 22 flat panel screens) that's spacious and, unlike other trading rooms, full of sunlight.
Rahe worked with executive assistant Kathy Louden as well as Tim Policinski, Fort Washington's managing director and senior portfolio manager, to create a place that would work best for the traders.

"When visitors come in they're literally looking at everyone working," Policinski says. "It can get little rowdy and loud sometimes, but it is a very fun, functional place to work."

Fort Washington, a member of Western & Southern Financial Group, worked with Eagle Realty Group, which manages Western & Southern's buildings, for the office's interior. International architectural firm Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) was built the tower. Eagle Realty's Jim Habig, worked with Rahe and Louden to determine their needs, as well as what they might need years down the road. Mounting the flat panel televisions to the ceiling freed a lot of space. And trading desks can be easily customized for each trader.

"Most trading rooms aren't this luxurious," Policinski adds. "This one has much more space. There's room for clients and other employees to come in. It's all about impromptu gathering."

Mayfield Clinic Spine Surgery Center - Simple Lines and Healthy Spines

When he designed Mayfield's new spine center, architect José Garcia wanted to create a facility that projects warmth, a place that is both welcoming and calm. To achieve this he chose stone, wood and glass for the exterior, as well as portions of the interiors. "These are very classic materials used in a very modern way," Garcia says. "They're not in any way calling attention to themselves." He also kept the lines of the building simple, which is especially evident from the building's flat, largely wooden exterior.

"We certainly wanted something that was very warm and inviting for outpatients and their family," says Gina Hughes, administrator and director of nursing for the center. "I thought, 'If I was a patient, what would I want?'" All the patient rooms are private.

But to provide the best service, you must have happy employees. The nursing perspective is important, Hughes adds, so the chairs and carpet were chosen to provide ergonomic support for employees. Yellows and warm browns, along with the rich tones of the wood used through the building, signal to visitors that they're not in the standard, cold environment that's usually associated with clinics.

Hughes credits Amy Mees from the architecture firm GBBN with proposing furnishings that really put the patients and staff front and center.
What does Hughes like about the design of Mayfield's new clinic? "I think it's the fact that we're all able to work together," she says, "We've each put our own unique stamp on it."

Real Living - Put Your Feet Up

The exterior of Real Living's space in Kenwood looks like an office building masquerading as a traditional home. Inside, however, there's a contrast. The building has an open floor plan, modeled in a hip style broker associate Dick Wagner says is reminiscent of a New York loft. When Real Living, the largest real estate broker in Ohio, took over these offices once occupied by Huff Realty, it wanted to create a relaxed environment. The new space was partly modeled by in-house designers after Real Living's offices in Columbus.

And it makes for anything but the typical buyer experience. Instead of sitting across from an agent at a desk, customers lounge in a living room setting with warm colors, plants and an airy feel.

Wagner says there's also "contrasts within contrasts" when it comes to the two conference rooms, which opt for purples and greens and Asian-inspired details instead of the loft layout of the main floor.

There's also a kitchen in plain view. Wagner points out that that is also in keeping with the studio loft style. Agents have laptops and "open bay" workstations in the center of the room instead of being secluded into small offices with dropped ceilings.

"We're not a call center," Wagner notes. He adds that employees aren't just punching the clock; they're able to move about the retail space to mix with customers. Otherwise, they're out in the field. But when they return, it's more like heading home than back to the office.

Glaserworks - Design Firm Goes DIY

The San Antonio Building on Eighth Street was in a state of grimy disrepair when employees of the design, planning and architecture firm glaserworks first walked in, but that didn't scare them away. The century-old brownstone, the former home of a printing company, had the potential to be one of the most modern interiors downtown.

While the quirks are part of both the charm and hassle of renovating a building, the Glaserworks design team knew that it would lend unique character in the end. Still, they had to make a few adjustments. Big adjustments. For one, they added an interior stairwell that's as functional as it is eye-catching. Originally, the San Antonio Building had only an elevator to take employees between Glaserworks' two floors.

"This was an architectural company doing an architectural project," says Glaserworks' Alison Tepe-Guy. The company custom designed and built a metal grate ceiling system for the conference room, giving the illusion of a smaller, cozier room without losing the lofty warehouse ascetics. The conference room also scores points with visitors for its large glass pocket door.

Actually it's one of the few doors in the entire office. "We don't have offices that are closed," Tepe-Guy says. There's the front door, conference room and restroom doors, and that's about it. Work stations are in "pods of four," and the lack of walls makes for a lot more communication.

It's worlds away from when the company was located in Hyde Park, trapped behind traditional offices and desks. The Eighth Street location, which Glaserworks moved to seven years ago, is so cool that production companies are shooting commercials there. Without naming the companies, One commercial has already been filmed there and two location scouts have visited the area since, according to Tepe-Guy. "Talk about revitalizing downtown, this is it."

Bengals Lounge and Mini Suites - Suite Design Scores a Touchdown

Question: Is there a better way to take in a Bengals game than in a comfy suite, surrounded by images of the team's best players? Answer: Of course not. Interior design and architecture firm Roth created the posh digs in a section of Paul Brown Stadium that had sat empty until the suites' grand opening in August 2006.

The lounge, which can accommodate 76 people, features plenty of room to network, a buffet, bar and views of the field. There are lots of flat panel televisions so that you won't miss the game, even if you're not facing the action.

While this is Bengals country, the design forgoes an obvious black and orange color scheme. Instead, the room features unobtrusive greens, lavenders, stainless steel and anigre wood, accented by historic collectables and modern art. "They wanted a more corporate feel to reflect the people who would be renting the suites," says David Sigg, director of interior design for Roth. "It needed to function and feel like a private club."

While there are seven suites branching from the lounge, the use of glass creates openness, instead of boxing everyone in. Each suite is named after Bengals favorites like Boomer Esiason, Isaac Curtis and Ken Anderson. Larger than life images of the players in action were printed on transparent film and placed between the panes of tempered glass walls. 

Loth - The One-Stop Shop

When this leader in integrated furniture solutions consolidated its corporate offices and warehouse under one roof in 1998, Loth's designers faced a number of obstacles.

The roof itself was a challenge. Amity Bertsch, Loth's interior design director says the roof wasn't strong enough to withstand much tinkering without major structural improvements, but that wasn't in the budget. Instead, they left all ductwork exposed. "We have 38-foot-high ceilings," Bertsch says. Because of that, "you can use some bold colors." Indeed, parts of the facility use purples, yellows, even deep wood tones, which she says boosts employees spirits and creativity, making them more productive.

The open workspace also feature multi-tier area, making use of the multi-story space without sealing off employees with walls and ceilings. It also makes for a great visual.

But using in-house designers can sometimes complicate a project. Bertsch equates it to redecorating your own home: it's difficult to make firm decisions knowing you'll be living with them day in and day out. Plus, she worked with coworkers; at times the cycle of self-critique seemed never-ending.

Of course, with doing this for a living, the designers also took steps to make their job easier. They interviewed employees to be sure of how and where everyone spent their day. By knowing everyone's needs up front, they could approach the project from a more inclusive angle. "It's really important, in design, getting all the up front," notes Bertsch.

The results have been so successful that, after taking a stroll through Loth's offices, clients have replicated the look. Budget crunches and structural dilemmas led designers to a creative solution instead of blocking them from one. "I think that sometimes when you have strict parameters, that's when you get your most creative." Bertsch says.

Bang - An Explosion in the Soapbox District

Full of reds and oranges, plush booths, edgy art and youthful sex appeal, Bang lives up to its incendiary name. It's swanky. It's hot.
But, most importantly, it's very Cincinnati. "The name also means 'Bang, wake up,'" says collaborator Genine Fallon. She and co-owners Josh Heuser and Nick Grammas want patrons to appreciate the Queen City, instead of pining for far-away locales. Bang, in the newly termed Soapbox District (centered around Fourth Street) is aimed at giving young Cincinnati professionals something they can embrace. "We're not a big city and we're okay with that," Fallon says.

Does it get any more Cincinnati than Rookwood tile? Bang is fitted in $40,000 worth of Rookwood tile, the most notable area being the "flame room" with undulating red tile and a specially made star-cut pattern. And Cincinnati-based photographer Annette Navarro created images specifically for the nightclub.

The long, narrow bar, formerly used a gallery space, is in a Fourth Street building owned by the design, planning and architecture firm Michael Shuster and Associates. Keith Hall and Erin Schmidt were the part of the MSA team to help Heuser and Grammas bring their vision to life. Despite initial budget concerns, "I bet they've done 80 to 90 percent of what we presented to them," Hall says. But the partners came up with the extra funding to create a space that's unlike anything else downtown. From the contrasts of the unfinished gray floors and columns against the orange upholstered booths, to the tilted ceiling of the flame room, to the open space underneath the sinks that arguably creates a unisex restroom, it appears to have been worth it. "If you're gonna do it, you might as well do it right," Fallon says.

Sigg says the design team visited other NFL suites as research for their project, wanting to create something that was different from everything else. It clearly pays to do your homework: the suites were pre-leased for five years before they even opened and Roth's been tapped for similar projects at the stadium.