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Cincinnati Public Schools

Erich Kunzel Center for Arts and Education

Project Description

The patterns, movements and juxtaposition of materials on the building’s façade mirror the buildings playful, creative program within.

Project Stats


Cincinnati, Ohio

Year of Completion


Square Footage


Project Gallery

Design Features

The Erich Kunzel Center for Arts and Education combines two nationally recognized Cincinnati Public Schools—the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) and the Schiel Primary School for Arts Enrichment. It became the first public K-12 arts school in the United States. The site is along Cincinnati’s Central Parkway on the southern border of Washington Park in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Cincinnati’s historic Music Hall, constructed in 1878, is adjacent, and the late maestro Erich Kunzel was one of the chief advocates of the building’s construction. The project is expected to serve as a catalyst for this historic neighborhood’s revival.

Located in an area of predominately brick buildings the school, too, has elements of a masonry façade. To reveal the contemporary nature of the facility an “urban curve” of zinc panels was introduced as a counter point to the traditional brick of the surrounding buildings. This large curve sweeps around the corner and makes a symbolic gesture to the Music Hall. In contrast to the dull zinc, bright patterned stainless steel panels clad the corner façade of the large 750-seat theater.

Housed within this 253,000 sq. ft., five-story facility are visual arts, technology education, drama, dance and theater production programs. In addition to the flag ship theater, there is a 300-seat recital hall and a black box theater. The “Avenue of the Arts,” a large concourse which also serves as a gallery, organizes the performance spaces, and through its orientation and views again establishes a visual connection back to the Music Hall.