The Community Design Center organizes collaborative interdisciplinary community/university partnerships for the research and design of physical improvements which serve the University’s urban area. The Community Design Center is a part of the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) at the University of Cincinnati. The Center provides assistance to community groups, non-profit organizations, and City departments that are representing under-served areas and underfunded projects within the area.

The Community Design Center is administered by a registered Architect with assistance from co-op students and graduate assistants from the disciplines of Architecture, Planning, Graphic Design, and Industrial Design. Faculty from these schools are involved as advisors and designers on individual projects.

The Niehoff Urban Studio is a unique interdisciplinary academic initiative undertaken to address urban issues that challenge the quality of life in Cincinnati. The studio endeavors to engage the community in an urban problem solving effort. The studio is located on Short Vine in Corryville and includes classroom, meeting, and exhibit areas. Since its inception in 2002 more than 800 students in urban planning, engineering,  architecture, design, anthropology, business, nursing, political science, urban geography and others have participated and partnered with more than 100 community based organizations on projects intended to make Cincinnati more sustainable. The Niehoff Studio is administered by the Community Design Center.

See our annual reports: 2011 Annual Report, 2012 Annual Report, 2013 Annual Report, and 2014 Annual Report.

News and Upcoming Events


Neighborhood Playbook

On February 8, 2017, the Neighborhood Playbook organized a guiding event at Niehoff Urban Studio for people and developers in the community that helped them to understand the spaces in better ways for physical and economic growth of the neighborhood. The speakers discussed about necessary qualities of neighborhoods and they reviewed developing market dynamics and current community development processes to contrast with alternative methods. List of speakers- Joe Nichol, Architect and Urban Designer, MKSK Kevin Wright, Planner and Executive Director, Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation





Advocacy: Beyond the Press Release

On January 19th local Architects of the AIA Cincinnati Chapter convened at the Niehoff Studio to hear Katie Gerfen, Editor of design coverage: ARCHITECT Magazine discuss approaches to communication and advocacy. The event is a part of the series Vision: Architect’s Leadership Forum professional advancement, firm development and community outreach.

Vision January Lecture- Gerfen




An Examination Food Access in Hamilton County, OH

During Fall of 2016 graduate Planner Alican Yildiz and Public Health Intern Ardag Hajinazarian are leading this research effort with the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy members Robin Henderson, City Environment and Sustainability Officer, Stacey Todd, Hamilton County Planner. The research focused on the examination of food access according to three main determinants, availability, accessibility and utilization, of food system outcomes in urban environments,. Spatial-statistical analyses of access to a variety of outlets and food-at-home expenditures are used to learn the outcomes food access disparities in Hamilton County over the health of County Residents.




Conceptual Visual Model for the Greater Cincinnati Food System

A funded collaboration with the Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council of Green Umbrella is supporting early efforts to conduct a comprehensive food system assessment for the region. Summer and Fall 2016 work is aimed at developing a conceptual model for the dynamics of a food system and creating visual representation designed to communicate the relationships among existing external drivers and components. This model is being tested against actual conditions in four cincinnati neighborhoods for further refinement. A “systems` thinking” approach was adopted that accommodated multiple visual models and diverse segments of the system- such as Food Availability, Food Accessibility and Food Utilization. Through iterative visual-descriptive outputs, the model is being adjusted to include new indicators and configurations according to our evolving understanding about the state of the food environment in Cincinnati.




Graphical Visualization of Developments in Cincinnati

In Fall 2016, CDC started creating a graphical visualization of developments from 1990 within Cincinnati Neighborhoods. This map explains the growth of the city and the extent of civilization in City of Cincinnati.




Center For Closing The Health Gap

During Fall 2016, CDC worked with Center for Closing the Health Gap by providing them the Map for The Do Right! Campaign. The effort encourages healthy living through nutrition and physical activity which includes almost 20,000 participants to date from Mt. Auburn neighborhood.




Mental Map for Cincinnati

The CDC worked with Archie’s Press to develop a diagram representing a “Mental Map” of Greater Cincinnati. This diagram reduces and abstracts geography to represent how many residents may understand our urbanized region.

See City Diagrams




The Greater Cincinnati Good Food Fellows Project

The Niehoff Urban Studio is partnering with the Greater Cincinnati Food Policy Council and 4 other institutions in a Student Fellowship program to strengthen engagement between students and community stakeholders who are working to improve our local food system.

The Greater Cincinnati Good Food Fellows project will offer five academic fellowships (stipends of $3000 each) to exceptional students from five regional colleges.

The Fellows will gain real world experience through project-based learning and community engagement. The Fellows will also engage in other activities and events during their fellowship as determined by the program advisors and coordinator, including the completion of a project based on their work with the host organization.

Jenn Bakes, a second year community planning graduate student of University of Cincinnati, won the fellowship. She is eager to start her work for health and sustainability of Greater Cincinnati regional food system.




FALL 2016 ULI Competition Studio

This studio competition was modeled after the existing national ULI Hines Competition conducted annually for 3-4 person interdisciplinary teams to design a real estate development project on an assigned local site. Student teams produced site plans, architectural designs, and real estate proformas. Professional Architects, Developers, Engineers from Cincinnati ULI mentored the teams along with Faculty Members Frank Russell (Architect/Urban Designer-UC Niehoff Urban Studio) and Shaun Bond (UC Real Estate Center).

List of Mentors: Michael Kady, Jason Chamlee, Lasserre Bradley, Sari Lehtinen, Stefan Cornelis, Thea Munchel, Chad Munitz, Jim Zentmeyer, Jeff Raser, Lydia Jacobs-Horton, Edward Ratterman, Ryan Laber, Tom Rowe, Chad Burke, Kevin Wright, Mike Dooley, Steve Kenat, Joe Nickol, Adam Gelter

Among 25 students divided into 5 teams from the Real Estate, Architecture and Urban Planning fields, the winning team composed was awarded with the $5,000.

Winning Team: Hymes Connor Nicholas, Strauch Toni Nicole, Zhu Qisheng, Harris Jalisa, Riusche Joseph

Posters: Team 1 | Team 2 | Team 3 | Team 4 (Winner) | Team 5

photo 1 | photo 2 | photo 3 | photo 4 | photo 5 | photo 6 | photo 7 | photo 8




Niehoff Urban Studio's Spring Open House

On April 21, the Niehoff Urban Studio hosted the Spring 2016 Open House, where the past year's student work was on display. "Creative Placemaking and the Next Generation Neighborhood Business District" was the focus of this year's work within the overall studio theme of "Building Healthy and Resilient Places." A panel discussion was also held.

Panel Discussion: Bright Ideas for Placemaking
Phillip Denning | Cincinnati Department of Economic Development
Seth Walsh | Community Development Corporations Association
Kathleen Norris | Urban Fast Forward
John Yung | UrbanCincy - Moderator
Kathy Schwab | LISC - Creative Placemaking Awards.


Studio Projects

photo 1 | photo 2 | photo 3 | photo 4 | photo 5 | photo 6 | photo 7 | photo 8 | photo 9



Creative Placemaking Competition Results

The Resilient Cities Studio took on Creative Placemaking as a focus for the 2016 Spring Semester. Architecture, Industrial Design, Urban Planning, and Communications student competed for best ideas among three neighborhoods. The Studio was conducted through the ProPel Collaboratory Program and sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky LISC. Community partners included the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Corp, Price Hill Will, and the Covington Center for Great Neighborhoods. Funding from UC Forward will allow design development of best projects during the summer of 2016.

1st Place : Jiajing Xie, Knots Place
2nd Place : Kellie Locke, Emergence
3rd Place : Danniel S. Castele, Price Hill Open Air Gallery
Community Engagement : Crystal Collado, Dream Life Bus Stop

Other Entrants: 33 Dreams | Creative Placemaking | Floating Gallery | Food Access for All

Fall Semester Projects: Mixer Pixel | Modular Placemaker | Airstream Place maker | Scaffolding Price Hill | Hellmann Parking Lot



Rethinking Burnet Woods Report | Fall 2014-Spring 2015

The Niehoff Urban Studio focused on "Rethinking Burnet Woods" for the 2014-2015 academic year as a part of the "Making Healthy and Reslient Places" theme. Many district and park specific issues were explored including perception and identity, ecology, framing developments, health, connectivity, social dimensions, place making, economic development, among others. Students from the disciplines of Urban Planning, Architecture, Architectual Engineering, Civil Engineering, Horticulture and others worked with design professionals, community stakeholders, and city staff to formulate a variety of interventions. This "Rethinking Burnet Woods" Report summarizes the year's work. Individual projects are posted on-line as well.



Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses Community Space

The Niehoff Urban Studio and Community Design Center has had the pleasure of being a part of an initiative in the West End along with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cincinnati Reds, Major League Baseball, and Proctor and Gamble to transform Sand's School Lot into a community gathering place for the 7 Hills Neighborhood Houses and neighborhood residents. The Niehoff Studio/Community Design Center provided design services. The grand opening occurred on Thursday July 9th 2015, after a long day of work by over 300 company volunteers and community members! This colaboration is one of the All Star Legacy projects. recent press on the project: Reds, MLB, P&G team up for West End clean up in preparation for the All Star Game, Community Improvements as part of All Star Game Reds Community Fund, and Reds dedicate Community Center Playground.


Recent Events and Projects


Power NAAAP Panel: Leadership Lessons from Military Service

On November 1, 2016, National Association of Asian American Professionals- NAAAP Cincinnati organized a panel discussion for inspiring people from the stories of Asian American veterans and service members. Panelists shared their experiences how they have learned to motivate their team members.

Panelists: Jin Kong- Social Entrepreneur, Attorney, Pavan Parikh- Government Relations Officer, FHLB Cincinnati; Captain, US Army Reserve, Jasmine Archuleta- Staff Sergeant, US Air Force; Assistant Flight Chief of Military Training, United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Roy Nickerson- Senior Manager, Corporate Learning & Development, Intelligrated (Honeywell), Paulane Hitchens- Mechanical Project Engineer, Intelligrated (Honeywell)

Moderator: Ronnie Iquina- Senior Integrated Marketing Executive

Photo 1 | Photo 2 | Photo 3



Soapbox Speaker Series presents Love In An Elevator: sex + city planning

Soapbox conducted a panel discussion Love In An Elevator: sex + city planning at Niehoff Urban Studio on October 12, 2016. New Soapbox editor Pamela Fisher moderated the panel discussion that included three experts- Cincinnati City Council member Chris Seelback, Amy Lind, head of UC’s Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and mixologist and owner of Wellmann’s Brands Molly Wellmann. The talk mainly focused on race and gender sensitivity in our community. Cincinnati city council member Chris Seelback explained how smart city planning is already happening in Cincinnati with the example of street car. Molly Wellmann stated that she prefers not to install TVs in her venues as it kills the conversations. Professor Lind prompted the listeners that the social lens of minority perception extends beyond gender, race and social status to include single mothers, people with disabilities and other underrepresented groups.

Cincinnati talks sex in city planning during recent Speaker Series




Frida in Focus- Exhibition and Events

Frida in Focus was an exhibition focusing on famous photographic portraits of Frida Kahlo prepared by Cincinnati photographer Bernard Silberstein from September 15 to October 13 in Niehoff Urban Studio. This exhibition and series of related events honored Hispanic and Latino culture in America. The exhibition and its related events focus on intersectionality, motivates people to imagine how they want the world to view them, and make it happen. There was an opening reception on September 15, a bilingual poetry reading on September 22, a keynote address on September 29, and a closing alumni event on October 13 in Niehoff Studio.




University Impact Area Solutions Study Steering Committee Meeting

On September 8, 2016, University Impact Area Solutions Study Steering Committee organized a meeting at Niehoff Urban Studio. Attendees learned about the five initiative areas of zoning, housing, fire, health and parking codes as well as other solutions to the quality of life concerns in the area. This is an ongoing public engagement effort and this study and proposed solutions will take approximately one year to complete.




Over-the-Rhine St Mary's Square Charrette

On June 12th, Niehoff Studio worked with residents, merchants, and designers under a tent at Second Sunday on Main in OTR, for a hands-on workshop to illustrate potential improvement to the "front door" for Old St Mary's that reflects changing culture of the neighborhood.

Our Partners: Main Street Merchants, Over-the-Rhine Foundation, City DOTE, and AIA Cincinnati

See photos | Flyer | Presentation



Rothenberg Academy in OTR Rooftop Teaching Garden

The Rothenberg Academy rooftop teaching garden is finally open! Read more

The garden, for students, combines two ongoing interests of the CDC, the OTR neighborhood and food based community development. Stemming from the vision of Pope Colman, board-member of the the Over-the-Rhine (OTR) Foundation, the Community Design Center (CDC) collaborated with Pope and the OTR Foundation to make the rooftop teaching garden vision into a reality. In the summer of 2013 the CDC provided technical services and renderings to make this project a reality and the project was constructed in the summer of 2014. For more, read the Rothenberg Brochure.

Healthy Corner Stores - Cincinnati

The Healthy Corner Store program is a partnership between The CDC and the Center for Closing the Health Gap, a non-profit based in Avondale. The CDC is providing technical services to help meet the goals of bolstering the capacity of existing corner stores to provide more healthy food, specifically fresh produce. Parallel to the architectural updates to the corner stores, the program also promotes the advantages of healthy eating to neighborhood residents. Throughout the multi-year project, the CDC will continue to provide documentation of existing corner store conditions, research of best practices for healthy corner stores, as well as design and programming proposals for making these stores more functional and effective in providing healthy eating options. The program plans to include more than a dozen stores over a three year period with capital financing provided by the City of Cincinnati Fresh Food Financing Initiative.


See All Projects

Recent Press

  • October 12, 2016  Soapbox Speaker Series presents Love In An Elevator: sex + city planning Cincinnati talks sex in city planning during recent Speaker Series Read More| PDF
  • March 26, 2015  The Niehoff Urban Studio has recently been mentioned in Cincinnati Magazine's article "The Future of Transportation: Are We There Yet?" Read More| PDF
  • March 31, 2015  Niehoff Urban Studio's 2014 Report and growing influence at UrbanCincy Read More| PDF
  • May 8, 2014  Planetizen: Lessons from a Groundbreaking Interdisciplinary Design Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati Read More| PDF
  • In 2015  UC's Niehoff Urban Studio was cited as a best practice in Santa Ono's recent chapter of the "Presidential Perspectives: Inspirational Leadership" entitled "COOP 2.0."| PDF
  • September 19, 2014  Mayor cites two of Niehoff Urban Studio's projects Read More| PDF
  • May 3, 2016  Incorporating Recreational Space In Today's Urban Design & Architecture Read More |Listen | PDF
  • October 23, 2015  Cincinnati Parks Levy Community Forum Read More| PDF
  • October 20, 2015  Will Cincinnati parks tax 'help neighborhoods' or be 'bad government'? Read More| PDF
  • October 19, 2015  UrbanCincy To Host Definitive Debate On Proposed Parks Tax at Niehoff Urban Studio Read More| PDF
  • September 23, 2015  UC Students Reimagine a Forgotten Urban Greenspace Read More| PDF
  • July 9, 2015  Reds dedicate Community Center, Playground Read More| PDF
  • July 9, 2015  Community Improvements as part of All Star Game Reds Community Fund Read More| PDF
  • July 9, 2015  Reds, MLB, P&Gteam up for West End clean up in preparation for All Star Game Read More| PDF
  • May 1st, 2015  Episode #50: Burnet Woods Read More| PDF
  • April 30, 2015  Record Crowd at Niehoff for Burnet Woods Read More| PDF
  • April 24, 2015  How could Burnet Woods become Cincinnati's next great public space? Here are some ideas Read More| PDF
  • March 31, 2015  Report Quantifies Growing Influence of UC's Niehoff Urban Studio and Community Design Center Read More| PDF
  • March 26, 2015   Are we there yet? Three transportation projects that will keep us trucking, rolling, and railing along. PDF
  • November 20, 2014    Healthier Community builds innovative economy Read More| PDF
  • October 24, 2014    UC students present final cases in the UC-ULI Urban Development Competition Read More| PDF
  • July 9, 2014    Old-time shopkeepers corner market on loyalty Read More | PDF
  • July 23, 2014    Rothenberg Academy in OTR Rooftop Teaching Garden PDF
  • May 19, 2014    The State of Local Food Report PDF
  • May 8, 2014    Lessons from Niehoff Urban Studio at the University of Cincinnati Read More| PDF
  • May 7, 2014    UC Students and Transportation Experts Pitch Their Ideas for the Wasson Corridor Read More| PDF
  • February 22, 2014    Seeds of success starting to grow in the East End Read More| PDF
  • October 30, 2013    City council candidates debate on issues of urbanism at the Niehoff Urban Studio Read More| PDF
  • October, 2013    CDC Student is featured for his work with the East End Neighborhood Read More| PDF
  • September 25, 2013   Hyde Park residents can weigh in on trail design
  • September 23, 2013   Wasson Way Trail could be hub of activities and economic growth
  • March 12, 2013    River access means money for West Side, NKY
  • November, 2012    Good Ideas for Cities - The Toolkit Read More

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    Contact the CDC

    Community Design Center
    University of Cincinnati
    PO Box 210016
    Cincinnati, OH 45221-0016
    tel. 513.556.3282
    fax. 513.556.3283
    email. frank.russell@uc.edu
    Off Campus Location

    UC Community Design Center
    UC Niehoff Urban Studio
    The Turner Center
    2728 (Short) Vine Street
    Cincinnati, Ohio 45219


    © 2011 University of Cincinnati