Art Makes a Business Statement at these Law Firms by Ryan Newman

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Originally Published in the Cincinnati Business Courier

Art can exist for art’s sake, as the expression goes, but two of Cincinnati's largest law firms believe in a corollary: art for the sake of business.

Both firms offer good examples of how an effort to beautify work spaces pays off in a variety of ways, but each took a different path to the payoff.

Timothy Hurley, a longtime partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister, recalls the story of the firm’s efforts to establish an art collection and beautify its offices:

In the early 1970s, he said, the staff included a recently hired young lawyer named Cynthia Fisher Blank. She later became the firm’s first woman partner and the first woman named as a partner at any of the city’s large law firms. But that’s another story.

The firm decided it needed to display outstanding artwork in its offices, which were then in downtown Cincinnati’s Dixie Terminal building. It sought something beyond standard law-firm issue English hunting prints.  


Knowing she had a keen interest in art, its leaders turned to Fisher Blank, set up a budget and told her to go to town and find the firm some attractive artwork. The town she went to, mostly, was New York City. 

Its galleries sold and exhibited some of the most famous artists in the world and some not so famous but destined to become so. Starting in the early ’70s and into the mid-80s, Fisher Blank found and purchased works by an extraordinary number of them.

The firm’s Cincinnati offices, which are now at 425 Walnut St., and offices in Covington, Columbus, Cleveland and Dayton together display more than 450 works of art, most of them chosen by Fisher Blank. They include many signed lithographs by artists including: Marc ChagallAlexander CalderJoan MiróRene MagritteSalvador Dali, Saul Steinberg, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Keith Haring and many more.

“The partners who asked Cynthia to find some art for the firm weren’t sure what they would get, and some no doubt were a little skeptical of what she found,” Hurley said. “It was almost all contemporary art. They probably expected something a little different.”

But Fisher Blank knew what she was doing. Hurley said the collection has been appraised, but “we cannot divulge that number.” 

“Art curators who have looked at the pieces have told us it is the best collection of such prints in the region.” Hurley said the collection is much more than what’s displayed on the walls. “It is living testimony to the impact that one person can have on our firm.”  

Hurley said the firm has no economic stake in the art, because if for any reason Taft  chose to no longer own it or could not own it, all the works would become the property of the Cincinnati Art Museum. 

Fisher Blank’s taste for Calder is evident by several of his works. Cincinnatians might know Calder for his playful mobile hanging outside the Terrace Cafe at the Cincinnati Art Museum and casting its shadow on a large wall mural by Miró that was commissioned for the now closed Terrace Plaza hotel downtown. 

The Taft collection includes 21 works by Calder, 11 by Miró, four by Magritte, seven by Chagall, five by Picasso, thirteen by Dali, and an original commissioned painting by Cincinnati-area wildlife artist John Ruthven, “Golden Eagle,” in a large conference room. 

With the exception of the Ruthven, these works are not originals, which would be worth many millions, but all the prints display the artists’ signatures, adding considerably to their value.

Hurley said Fisher Blank, who died in 2015, had one great champion in her quest to purchase art for the firm, and he was an important one – Charles Lindberg, a former managing partner.

Hurley said the artwork gives the people who work there and visitors something beautiful to look at. But it goes beyond making the Taft offices attractive. It’s a statement about the beauty of art. The people who come in here who have a knowledge of modern art are amazed by what they see.”

He said that as of now, the firm has no plans to accommodate small groups for tours of the offices, but he would like to see that happen.

“It would be nice to share this with more people,” he said.

Not every area business is lucky enough to have had a Cynthia Fisher Blank on its staff or the budget to turn their workplaces into near museum-quality spaces.

Another area law firm, Graydon, which moved to the Scripps Center at 312 Walnut Street in 2016, is also dedicated to making artwork a prominent part of the message it sends to clients, visitors and staff.

Graydon has taken an approach very different from Taft and of course got a later start. It focuses on displaying local artists, and its collection was curated by Litsa Spanos of Art Design Consultants. The firm also worked with Kolar Design. 

Kelly Kolar, president of Kolar, said, “We work with several businesses on their collections as a part of branding their spaces. The artwork becomes a key design ingredient for inspiration, storytelling and connection to their mission vision and values.”

James Whelan, Graydon’s chief business development officer, said, “When we moved to the Scripps Center, part of our vision was to create a vibrant environment that inspires creativity and collaboration. All the pieces were selected or commissioned to create that environment.” 

The art displayed at Graydon includes works by some 20 local artists and was selected or commissioned specifically for the Scripps Center offices. The works are in a variety of media, from painting to glass blowing to sculpture and furniture design. Prominent themes or motifs in the works are rivers and bridges.

On the firm’s website, you can find photos of the work from each of the artists used in the offices and a short bio of each artist. 

As Graydon states on the website: “Our history in inextricably intertwined with the history of Cincinnati, and as Cincinnati is an arts-loving city, we are an arts-loving firm. Love for the arts is part of our DNA.”

Easton's Engaging Gateways by Ryan Newman


Orignally from CIMA’s May Newsletter

“Collaborating with Kolar Design and Corna Kokosing, together we created an engaging gateway for Easton Town Center. This 1.8-million-sq.-ft. premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination is quite literally changing the retail landscape in central Ohio. Hosting numerous trendsetting retailers and eateries, Easton upholds their prestige by providing interactive experiences for their shoppers with live music, exhibits, events and dynamic digital content. Building a unique brand experience demands innovative design solutions.

With the need for a programmable RGB LED spectacular, Kolar Design trusted Cima with the task. Immediately following the briefing our lighting expert, Jack Tusman, was energized by the challenge and got to work prototyping. He developed a system utilizing Phillips Color Kinetics and mapped each module to maximize the overall impact on the curved 34' entry wall.

Corna Kokosing's project engineer said "It was a challenge to make sure these letters and their power supplies were watertight on an open wall with exposed areas. I've never seen an installation with so many electrical parts. Jack's patience and dedication to the project were essential to solving this problem." 

We made it easy for Easton to connect with their community by creating various animated programs to highlight holidays, promotions and special events. We then taught their team how to create and program their own shows, ultimately increasing the value and versatility of the new entryway element. “




In an effort to bring research to the forefront, Cincinnati Children's commissioned a design-build sculpture as the centerpiece of its new William Cooper Procter Research Pavilion. Located within the ground floor, the sculpture tells the story of how Cincinnati Children's is conducting research at all levels of the human system, from "molecule to mankind," in order to transform the treatment and delivery of patient care locally and throughout the world.

Designed to engage audiences of varying understanding to appreciate the beauty, drama, and wonder of biology, the sculpture comes alive through custom and pulsating LED lights that appear as if they are breathing and moving. Plasma screens convey the "molecule to mankind" progression through custom videography and animated medical rendering.

A two-year endeavor from concept to reality, this dynamic glass and metal organic lobby sculpture engages viewers from every approach and seeks to inspire and educate those working to improve the lives of children now and for generations to come.


Check out for more recently updated Healthcare Case Studies.


Architecture & Interior Design
GBBN Architects

Messer Construction

Brand Experience
Kolar Design

CD+M Lighting Design Group
Perspectives 360

Lightborne Communications
Travis Vermilye Medical & Biological Illustration

St. Xavier Park & Leasing Center by Ryan Newman


The vision is that the space becomes a welcoming entry and social hub to both current and prospective clients, as well as neighborhood residents.  Kolar Design, in collaboration with Human Nature and RDA Group Architects, worked in close coordination with North American Properties to achieve its vision for enhancing a highly visible exterior plaza on the corner of 7th and Sycamore Streets and its interior leasing center space.

7th & Sycamore Street - Site Context


Concept Images

Concept Images

Exterior Facade Renovation - Sycamore

Exterior Signage Mock-Up

Exterior Signage Mock-Up

NAP Leasing Center - Identity

NAP Leasing Center - Identity

Interior Graphic Element

Interior Graphic Element

St. Xavier Park Ecosystem

St. Xavier Park Ecosystem


7th & Sycamore - Night Perspective

2019 Update - Cincinnati Business Courier

Dog park, yoga lawn coming to downtown apartment buildings

By Tom Demeropolis  – Senior Staff Reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier

Cincinnati Business Journal - 2019

The owners of four downtown Cincinnati apartment buildings are adding a new amenity that is expected to be unique in the city.

North American Properties and NorthPointe Group, the owners of the collection of apartments known as Saint Xavier Park, are building a park for residents of four apartments at 636 Sycamore St. Maggie Hobbs, property manager for Saint Xavier Park, said she believes the park will be the first of its kind in downtown Cincinnati.

“The goal we’re trying to accomplish is have all four buildings with one common area shared amenity mostly to build community amongst the four,” Hobbs told me.

The apartments that make up Saint Xavier Park are East 8 Lofts, Sycamore Place, Seven at Broadway and Encore. Between the four buildings, Saint Xavier Park has 402 apartments. 

The roughly quarter-acre park will include a dog park, grills, fire pits, a turnaround for food trucks, a stage for entertainment, outdoor seating and a yoga lawn. The dog park area will have water fountains and drainage in the turf.

“Aesthetically, it will be a nice addition to the block,” Hobbs said.

Nick Rabin, asset manager of multifamily for downtown-based North American Properties, said the park will be an enhancement to the downtown community.

“It will be an exciting gathering place and social experience for our downtown residents,” Rabin said via email.

The park is part of a three-phase reinvestment in the properties, Hobbs said.

The first phase was renovating the space on the first floor of Sycamore Place into a combined leasing office for all four properties. There, potential residents are able to get information on all four properties and use giant touch screens to look at them. The second phase is the park, which is currently under construction. The plans for the third phase, which would include some additional indoor amenities for residents, are being finalized.

Residents will be able to access the park at the southeast corner of Seventh and Sycamore streets using their fingerprints. When the Eighth and Main apartment building is complete, its residents also will be able to access the park.

North American Properties also recently launched a “black card” for residents of Saint Xavier Park. The company worked with a dozen downtown retailers to provide residents with exclusive discounts. Participating retailers include Money Chicken, Spoon & Cellar, Corkopolis, YWCA and Woods Hardware.

The architect for the park project is RDA Group Architects, with Plant Trolley also working on it. The park is scheduled to be completed this spring.

UC Health plans $30M Clifton Campus Project by Ryan Newman

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Main Entrance Canopy

Main Entrance Canopy

CINCINNATI (Feb. 1, 2019) — Over the next two years, UC Health will invest $30 million in improvements to inpatient, outpatient and parking facilities and wayfinding across its Clifton Campus, including University of Cincinnati Medical Center, UC Health Physicians’ Office and the Barrett Cancer Center.

“The care that we provide to our patients is complex, but their experience with us shouldn’t be,” said UC Health President & CEO Richard P. Lofgren, MD. “We need to make it easier for patients, visitors and employees to navigate our campus and for our facilities to reflect the advanced, leading-edge care that we provide right here in Cincinnati.”

The Clifton Campus project represents an investment in patient care at UC Health, which is Greater Cincinnati’s referral destination for patients with complex needs and the region’s #1 preferred provider of neuroscience and cancer care. Last year, UC Health welcomed more than 10,000 patient referrals from other health systems.

The project will include significant renovations and improvements to inpatient and outpatient facilities, parking structures, walkways, wayfinding and signage across the campus, which spans nine city blocks in the Uptown Innovation Corridor. The campus includes eight buildings owned and operated by UC Health, plus shared and adjacent space with the UC College of Medicine.

Highlights include:

  • UC Medical Center: The main lobby, emergency department, underground tunnels, and many inpatient units will all be upgraded over the next two years.

  • Wayfinding: Wayfinding signage will be updated and improved throughout the campus to help visitors and employees more easily navigate the entire campus.

  • UC Health Rooftop Signage: This distinctive, LED-lit beacon atop UC Medical Center will clearly identify the hospital and Clifton Campus for visitors.

  • Goodman Garage: A new wrapped-style façade for UC Medical Center’s main parking structure will enhance the main entrance to the Clifton Campus for visitors and employees.

The upgrades are to include revamping the main lobby of the UC Medical Center as well as the emergency department, underground tunnels and many inpatient units.

The upgrades are to include revamping the main lobby of the UC Medical Center as well as the emergency department, underground tunnels and many inpatient units.

The Clifton Campus project is the latest in a series designed to improve access to care for patients.


In 2017, UC Health broke ground on the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, a $60 million investment in neuroscience care. The four-story facility will provide outpatient care, clinical trials and research, and space for multidisciplinary care teams to collaborate on the breakthroughs of tomorrow. The building will open in April 2019 on the southern end of the Clifton Campus.


In 2016, UC Health began investing in patient care space in the Ridgeway Tower at 3200 Burnet, formerly the UC Health Business Center. This culminated in the opening of a new 26-bed inpatient unit in January 2019, a $22 million project that will create 63 new jobs. UC Health now provides 92 patient beds in the Ridgeway Tower, and additional growth is expected in the future. The building is located on the northern end of the Clifton Campus.


About UC Health

UC Health is an integrated academic health system serving the Greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky region. In partnership with the University of Cincinnati, UC Health combines clinical expertise and compassion with research and teaching – a combination that provides patients with options for even the most complex situations. Members of UC Health include: University of Cincinnati Medical Center, West Chester Hospital, Daniel Drake Center for Post-Acute Care, Bridgeway Pointe Assisted Living, University of Cincinnati Physicians (includes nearly 900 board-certified clinicians and surgeons), Lindner Center of HOPE and several specialized institutes including: UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute; UC Cancer Institute; and UC Heart, Lung & Vascular Institute. Many UC Health locations have received national recognition for outstanding quality and patient satisfaction. Learn more at

Greater Cincinnati Foundation Announces Partners Who Will Bring New Office Space to Life by Ryan Newman


Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is pleased to announce it will partner with DNK, Kolar and RCF Group to ensure GCF’s mission to connect people with purpose is reflected in its new office space.

Originally posted -


“As we progress on our journey to find GCF’s new home, we remember that the look and feel of that home is just as important as its physical location,” said Ellen Katz, president/CEO of GCF. “We have been intentional about working with a diverse group of firms that will help us create a more equitable community by ensuring our office space reflects our commitment to equity. After all, our work starts at home.”

DNK is one of Cincinnati’s leading boutique design firms specializing in architecture, interiors, planning and landscape architecture. 

“As architects, we are honored to partner with GCF to plan and design their new office space,” said David Kirk, president of DNK. “We believe in their mission to inspire people to invest in Cincinnati through philanthropy. We also believe that design should respond to the reason for its use, but it is the experience of the space that matters. We want to create a work environment that is attractive and comfortable but yet responds to GCF’s culture. Their new corporate office should provide inspiration and spur a collective passion to continue their legacy of good work in the Greater Cincinnati community for years to come. “

Kolar is a global strategic design firm specializing in building branded experiences.  
“Kolar is honored to partner with the Greater Cincinnati Foundation – an organization making such a positive impact on The City of Cincinnati, by making our city a more equitable one,” said Kristy Sieve, workplace market lead at Kolar. “We will be collaborating with GCF to bring their new brand strategy, their vision, mission and story to life within their space.” 

RCF Group is a leader in providing tailored and comprehensive workplace solutions. 
“RCF Group is proud to partner in this development of an enhanced facility for the Greater Cincinnati Foundation,” said Carl Satterwhite, president and owner of RCF Group. “Our inclusion will capture the diversity of thought around the workspace creating a new, inviting environment.”

About Greater Cincinnati Foundation

As the region’s leading community foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation connects people with purpose in an eight-county region in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. GCF is leading the charge toward a more vibrant Greater Cincinnati for everyone – now, and for generations to come. As of 2017, GCF is the 35th largest U.S. community foundation with net assets of $649 million.

About DNK

DNK is one of Cincinnati’s leading boutique design firms specializing in architecture, interiors, planning and landscape architecture. For over 30 years the firm has served clients - public and private with projects in the workplace, wellness/ healthcare, education and urban planning sectors.  We creatively balance people, economics and the environment to produce transformative, sustainable solutions. The firm is a recipient of numerous awards for project design.

About Kolar

Kolar is an award-winning, global strategic design firm specializing in building branded experiences that leverage insight-driven strategies and deliver measurable business results at the intersection of people and place. We are passionate about finding new and better ways to connect people, places, and brands—from global workplaces that blend corporate and cultural identity to healing environments focused on the patient and family experience. You can find our work in mixed-use development, where place-making is breathing life into urban areas; in city parks that have become the heart of communities; and in academic settings, where shifting populations and new technologies are redefining education. Our team is driven by the belief that great design is transformative, that environments can be an agent of change for people, brands and business. We design to remind people why they do what they do every day, to change culture and, sometimes, even to change lives.

The firm has a wide range of strategic collaborative projects over its 28+ years including: Atricure, Cincinnati Children's, Oncology & Hematology Care (OHC), Graydon, The Cincinnati Park Board, Tavistock Development/Steiner + Associates, Mercy Health, TriHealth, Christ Hospital, The Ohio State University, The University of Cincinnati, Graydon, and Procter & Gamble globally.

About RCF Group

We provide tailored and comprehensive workplace solutions, gaining insight through listening sessions to understand your business culture, needs and challenges. Then, utilize our knowledge and expertise to help you exceed your goals, ensure accountability and responsiveness to form a long-term relationship, while delivering superior service. We create and deliver value in a world that is constantly changing. We learn your brand from the inside out to formulate a plan for your project and believe that extraordinary results can be achieved when an engaged client and our team work together toward a common goal. RCF Group is dedicated to a supportive environment that celebrates diversity and inclusion while working together for the long term benefit of our clients, business, and community.



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The Louisville International Airport looked to refresh their brand as a gateway to the world that reflects the heart and soul of Louisville for generations to come. Stakeholders along with the board authority explored options for a dynamic brand that created a sense of motion while capturing the ever-expanding economy, new conventions, community partnerships, and the growing cultural tourism our Louisville.

From the moment you step into the new arrival concourse the journey begins. The architecture unfolds along the main circulation path - revealing different story vignettes to enhance and compliment your travel experience in and out of Louisville. Each celebrates an accurate representation of place by distilling great experiences throughout the concourse- mastery, craft, and cuisine.

Terrazzo motifs, layered graphic wall patterns, with dimensional thresholds define the experience through portals. Natural daylight along with movement embrace the unique elements of aviation - flowing your experience along within the brand character.

A portal to the past, present and the future of Louisville - instilling respect and understanding for first-time visitors and residents alike.

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A Renewed Riverfront by Ryan Newman

John G. and Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park


The John G. & Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park is located next to The Banks development in Cincinnati. This vibrant project is transforming downtown Cincinnati by creating a major civic space at the front door of the city. It is a park for the generations—a compelling recreational, entertainment, and leisure resource for the entire Greater Cincinnati community. As an initiative led by the Cincinnati Park Board, the park features fountains, walkways, gardens, event lawns, playgrounds, and restaurants.


The design of the park was developed in phases, which began with identifying a park-wide strategy of graphic opportunities. These opportunities included park identification, directional signage, an informational site map, regulatory signage, donor recognition, and a visitor center. A marketing communications fundraising program was also developed to target potential supporters and other stakeholders within the local community. The program consisted of an inspirational folder, booklet, overview brochure, and animation, all designed to convey the vision for the park, highlight each of its key features, and build excitement throughout the community.

From Cincinnati Parks -  PDF

From Cincinnati Parks - PDF



Sasaki - Prime Consultant, Landscape Architect.

KZF Design - Local Architect, Civil Engineer, MEP/Structural Engineer. Aquatic Design & Engineering - Fountain Mechanical. THP Limited - Waterproofing. RSE Associates - Structural Engineer. Rico Associates - Specification. Pine & Swallow Environmental - Urban Soils.
Kolar Design - Graphics

Cincinnati Parks

2016 - Cincinnati Design Awards - Project

Check out for more information
on Cincinnati's Smale Riverfront Park