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Terrex & Messer Construction, Digital Futures 2

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Cincinnati, OH | 330,000 SF

The front door to the Cincinnati Innovation District and its many academic and research institutions, the buildings populating the Digital Futures Complex need to express the technological innovation and creativity taking place within.
Derived from simple pieces, the façade of Digital Futures 2 expresses the dynamic work being done within its walls.

But technology and architecture move at different speeds. What was cutting edge at the building’s groundbreaking will appear mainstream—even archaic—in ten or twenty years. So, how does a building express technological innovation without dating itself?

While contributing to the building's over all beauty, Digital Futures 2's window to wall ratio improve its energy performance.
A balcony from Digital Futures 2 overlooks a parklet that nestles between the two buildings.

Digital Futures 2 responds to this challenge by exploring the concept of creativity itself. Whether you think of Steve Jobs in his garage or kids at Christmas, who promptly discard the latest gadget to play in the box it came in, people are often their most creative when they have the least. Drawing on this experience, the building embraces simplicity.

The design leveraged a simple metal panel system to generate the building's distinctive look while minimizing waste and speeding installation.

...unlit black panels shift to white, silver, and gold as they’re transformed by the light of the sun...

The façade shifts from black to white, silver, and gold, depending on the changing daylight.

A simple box with a single fold: its mass shifts at the third floor to share the sun with its neighbor (Digital Futures 1) while also letting light fill the pocket park between the two. Distinguished from the illuminated, white fins of its neighbor’s façade, the building adapts a simple, black metal panel system to generate impressive visual complexity. Unlit, the black panels shift to white, silver, and gold as they’re transformed by the light of the sun, ensuring pedestrians never have the same view twice. Within the building, its tall windows and ideal wall-to-window ratio allow light deep into the interior, increasing occupant comfort, maximizing daylighting, and improving energy performance.  

A change in texture and material marks the building's entrance.
Material and massing strategies work in concert with its surroundings.
By pulling the parking underneath Digital Futures 1 and 2, the design opens up space for a shared public plaza.

With parking tucked under the development, the site is opened for public activities and connection to nature. While the pocket park between Digital Futures 1 and 2 fosters informal connections between researchers, its large plaza hosts public events, connecting to the neighborhood and an adjoining ecological corridor. Strategies like these contributed to Digital Futures 1 and 2 becoming the first commercial office buildings in Ohio to earn 2-star Fitwel Certifications.

AIA Cincinnati, Building Architecture-Large Scale, Merit Award