Columbus Municipal Light Plant wins Columbus Landmarks design award

2022-10-09 07:04:20 By : Ms. Ashley Chen

The Columbus Municipal Light Plant, vacant for years until it was restored for office and auction space, is the 2022 winner of Columbus Landmarks' James B. Recchie Design Award.

The plant, located at 577 W. Nationwide Blvd. near Field, home of the Columbus Crew, was built in 1903 and operated until the city closed it in 1977.

It took 3.5 years and ultimately $35 million in construction and other costs to renovate. According to Columbus Landmarks, more than 2,000 tons of material had to be removed from the site.

But crews were able to preserve coal hoppers, hopper doors, interior cranes, rail tracks and the tall smokestack, now a landmark itself: yellow with black vertical lettering spelling out COLUMBUS with the Crew logo below.

"What moved everyone was the attention to detail," said Rebecca Kemper, Columbus Landmarks' CEO.

That included adapting an original coal hopper into office space and retaining master switches that once controlled power to Downtown, including City Hall, plus smaller details such as using control wheels as door components, Kemper said.

It's a project where care was taken, Kemper said. "A real understanding that Brad DeHays had a vision for this site," she said.

DeHays is president of Connect Realty, which developed the site. Sandvick Architects of Cleveland designed the project.

In an email, DeHays said his company bought the property in late 2014. He said it is 100% leased and the businesses will employ more than 215. The buildings have a total of 110,000 square feet.

The three-member jury that reviewed the projects noted: “This is an example of a building that could have been lost, but instead it has been reimagined in a way that took creative thinking and attention to detail. The building honors its history through the integration of industrial artifacts throughout, including turning the suspended coal hopper into office space.

"This project demonstrates how even the most derelict industrial building can be brought back to life.”

The other four finalists were:

∎ Budd Dairy, 1086 N. 4th St., which now includes a food hall, office space and rooftop bar and patio.

∎ Mirror Lake District, 1760 Neil Ave. Ohio State University renovated the area that now includes a grotto fountain and an improved pathway network.

∎ Open Air School, 2571 Neil Ave. The building, designed by Columbus architect Howard Dwight Smith, and its addition have been turned into a mixed-use project that houses Emmett’s Café, Understory Bar and Lounge, event space and a pottery studio.

∎ The Franklinton Slingshot, 388 Trestle View St. The public artwork sits next to a trail connecting Dodge Park and Genoa Park in Franklinton.

The 2022 award jurors were: Alison Circle, a Columbus Landmarks board member; Edwin Harris, an architect and principal and co-founder of Evoke Studio in Durham, N.C.; and Eugenia Martin, national president of the American Society of Landscape Architects and project director, Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

“This year’s finalists continue the tradition of showcasing the creative and significant projects that are being undertaken in Columbus and their contributions to the quality of our built environment,” Nancy Recchie, sister of the award’s namesake, said in a prepared statement.

The award was announced Wednesday evening during an event at Field.