Columbus Municipal Fixture Wins Columbus Landmarks Design Award
The Columbus Municipal Lighting Plant, vacant for years until restored for offices and auctions, is the 2022 winner of Columbus Landmarks’ James B. Recchie Design Award.
The plant, located at 577 W. Nationwide Blvd. near Lower.com 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 the crews were able to preserve the coal hoppers, hopper doors, interior cranes, rail tracks and tall chimney, now a landmark in itself: yellow with black vertical letters spelling out COLUMBUS with the logo of the crew below.
“What moved everyone was the attention to detail,” said Rebecca Kemper, executive director of Columbus Landmarks.
This included adapting an original coal hopper in the offices and retaining the main switches that once controlled power to the town centre, including the town hall, as well as smaller details such as the use of drive wheels as gate components, Kemper said.
It’s a project where care has been 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 purchased the property in late 2014. He said it was 100% leased and the companies would employ more than 215 people. The buildings have a total of 110,000 square feet.
The three-member jury that reviewed the designs noted: “This is an example of a building that could have been lost, but instead was redesigned in a way that required creative thinking and attention to detail. The building honors its history through the integration of industrial artifacts throughout, including transforming the overhead coal hopper into office space.
“This project demonstrates how even the most abandoned 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, offices, a rooftop bar and a terrace.
∎ Mirror Lake District, 1760 Neil Ave. Ohio State University renovated the neighborhood which now includes a cave fountain and an improved trail system.
∎ Open Air School, 2571 Neil Ave. The building, designed by Columbus architect Howard Dwight Smith, and its addition have been transformed into a mixed-use project that houses Emmett’s Café, Understory Bar and Lounge, event space and 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 jurors for the 2022 award were: Columbus Landmarks Board Member Alison Circle; Edwin Harris, architect and director and co-founder of Evoke Studio in Durham, North Carolina; and Eugenia Martin, National President of the American Society of Landscape Architects and Project Director of Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.
“This year’s finalists continue the tradition of showcasing the creative and meaningful projects that are undertaken in Columbus and their contributions to the quality of our built environment,” Nancy Recchie, sister of the award namesake, said in a prepared statement. .
The award was announced Wednesday night at an event at Lower.com Field.