Enticing & Energizing

Cincinnati Children’s, Utility Plant

To Project Types

Cincinnati, OH | 10,100 SF

A utility plant that’s more than ‘utilitarian.’
Rather than hide from the community, the utility plant enhances it -- reflecting sky and neighborhood.

Born as a cost savings measure from its Critical Care Building, Cincinnati Children’s new utility plant strives for beauty. Utility plants are frequently hidden away, behind chain link fences in some far-flung corner of campus – not so at Cincinnati Children’s.

Sheens of the metal façade play with the changing light of the day...
and can take on a whole new feeling depending on when it is viewed.

The utility plant feels less like a machine for delivering energy, heating, cooling, and oxygen and more like a scenic extension of the neighborhood.

Site constraints on this urban hospital’s campus demanded the utility plant occupy a small, but highly visible location, bordering a residential neighborhood on one side, and a parking garage and prominent building on the other. So, rather than hiding (which tends to attract curious onlookers anyway), this plant is designed to enhance its surroundings. Simple yet beautiful, the building is clad in alternating glossy and matte black metal panels and punctuated by semi-reflective, lightly frosted windows. This creates an engaging rhythm for pedestrians while reflecting neatly framed images of its surroundings, so the utility plant feels less like a machine for delivering energy, heating, cooling, and oxygen to Cincinnati Children’s Critical Care Building and more like a scenic extension of the neighborhood.

Frosted windows create a soft glow for the staff inside.

Always interacting with its context, the building’s walls push in and out, its roofline undulating up and down, as it follows the bend in the road. And while different sheens of the metal façade play with the changing light of the day—taking on the soft glow of oranges, yellows, and whites—its interior lights shine through the frosted windows at night like a lantern, communicating a comforting presence. GBBN partnered with ZGF Architect (Design Architect/Architect of Record)

Site constraints on this urban hospital’s campus demanded the utility plant occupy a small, but highly visible location