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.

We're Trending!

President's Report on the University of Cincinnati - Trending

The Niehoff Urban Studio was recently listed in the University of Cincinnati's latest President's Report, Trending, a showcase of UC's most prominent achievements, accolades, and investments. Over a two-page spread, the report describes some of the Niehoff Studio's 751 urban projects and its impact on students and the local communities.

News and Upcoming Events


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, 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.


SPRING 2016 CALL FOR Niehoff Urban Studio Scholars

Multi-disciplinary teams will work collaboratively with Civic Leaders and Professional Mentors in two weekend charrettes to produce design, programming, policy, and economic plans to promote their urban innovation concept. Projects originate with a community request and may include a variety of urban based interventions such as, placemaking for equitable public space, infrastructure for health and sustainable environments or other similar topics.

Open by permission of instructor to Grad and UG 3rd year and above students. Enrollment is selective and limited to 12 students who will each receive $500 scholarships. 3 Credit Elective Studio Service Learning Collaboratory SCLC 5001-002 or PLAN 7008-015 | Instructor: Frank Russell, AIA.

Ten Class meetings | Thursdays 12:30-2:00, Two Weekend Charrettes | dates TBD. Apply here


Niehoff Urban Studio's in the Cincinnati Magazine

The Niehoff Urban Studio has recently been mentioned in Cincinnati Magazine's article "The Future of Transportation: Are We There Yet?"

Niehoff Urban Studio's 2014 Report and growing influence at UrbanCincy

The Niehoff Urban Studio has recently been featured in UrbanCincy's website for the release of its 2014 Annual Report

Lessons from a Groundbreaking Interdisciplinary Design Laboratory at the University

of Cincinnati

The recognized planning website Planetizen dedicated an article on the University of Cincinnati's Niehoff Urban Studio for bridging the gap between UC and the neighborhoods around it, involving students from different fields and community stakeholders. Read more.

The Niehoff Studio recognized for education innovation

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." Read more.


Mayor cites two of Niehoff Urban Studio's projects

Mayor Cranley features two Niehoff Urban Studio projects - Wasson Way and Burnet Woods - in his state of the city address. Read more.

Recent Events and Projects


Modern Makers: A Walk in the Woods of Jacob Burnet

On October 16, 2015, the Niehoff Studio in conjuction with Modern Makers hosted the event A Walk in the Woods. The aim of the exhibit was to show unusal, in-depth and detailed images of the ecology of Burnet Woods. Divided by trail, the artist invited the viewer to experience the often missed and hidden beauty of the park. Rama Kasturi has lived in Clifton for 23 years. Her visual experience walking in Burnet Woods was documented in this photography exhibit.

“This exhibition has been born out of my desire to share with you some of what I have seen and experienced by walking the trails within Burnet Woods Park for over two decades. The park is a photographer’s dream offering year-round interest. My photographs are a testament to the timeless beauty of these woods located in the heart of the city and a visual reminder that the woods, like life, are constantly renewing themselves” – Rama Kasturi

See event photo


Cincinnati Parks Levy - Community Forum

In November voters were presented with a choice of establishing a permanent source of funding for capital improvements and capital maintenance for park land and facilities with a proposed 1-mill tax that would be added to the City Charter. On October 20th Green Umbrella, Tri-State Trails, and Queen City Bike organized a dynamic panel discussion, moderated by UrbanCincy and hosted by the UC Niehoff Urban Studio that was attended by a standing room only audience of 150. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and attorney Don Mooney of Save Our Parks presented opposing statements. Questions were posed by co-moderators John Yung of UrbanCincy, Tom Neyer Jr. of Mainstream Strategy, and UC History Professor David Stradling.

See event photos | Video 1 | Video 2 | Article 1 | Article 2 | Article 3


Urban Design Salon | Street Vibrancy Tools for Cincinnati

On October 14, 2015, the Niehoff Studio along with the Cincinnati chapters of AIA, APA, and ASLA hosted the event Urban Design Salon - Street Vibrancy Tools for Cincinnati. An audience of forty heard Vibrant Streets program manager Priya Beitadapur and Research Strategist (and Niehoff Studio alum) Bobby Boone describe the program and available toolkit.



Modern Makers + Urban Blooms: Wall to Table

On June 26, 2015, the Niehoff Studio hosted another succesful event organized by Modern Makers. Wall to Table: an exploration of vertical gardens and edible plants featured the works of Urban Blooms. Modern Makers invited us to eat right off the wall, to enjoy bites from their garden table, to create music with an interactive tactile sound system using plants, and to sip herbal infused libations while mingling with creatives + friends.



Niehoff Urban Studio, AIA Cincinnati Urban Design Committee and OCASLA Lecture

WHAT WILL THE CITY LOOK LIKE IN THE FUTURE? The AIA Cincinnati Urban Design Committee, OCASLA (Ohio Chapter Aerican Society of Landscape Architects), and UC Niehoff Urban Studio hosted on June 10, 2015 a presentation on the NEW Draft Land Development Code by the Cincinnati Planning Department. Community members had the chance to be part of the process and provide their feedback.



[Pop-Up] Cincy: Coral Reef

On Friday, May 29, 2015 Pop-Up Cincy organized the Coral Reef event at the Niehoff Studio.
Visitors VIEWED a silk embroidered tapestry on the coral reef as a metaphor for the city, HELPED cut out coral shapes for a piece of art and ENJOYED cocktails and community.

POP-UP Cincy curates temporary and surprising experiences that cause creative change in communities. One-of-a-kind events delight the senses and create memories. Check out our event schedule online!
Pop-up events are a creative spark in existing public and vacant space. Events range in variety, from art shows to film, from window displays to interactive work-sessions. We engage social groups in dynamic ways. Locations change per event size and type- instigating creative place-making around Cincinnati. facebook.com/popupcincy



Modern Makers: Arts&Crafts

Arts & Crafts was a unique event that blended the two cultures of art and craft beer in a lively and creative atmosphere. This was a valuable opportunity to promote established and up and coming artists. This event was created by University of Cincinnati students to support local breweries and artists in an effort to nurture the arts in the Clifton community.

It featured the art of: JJ Baker, Mark Byron, Jessica Coffey, Rachel Ellison, Adam Grace, Ryler Gray, Emily Hill, Iman Jabrah, Alex Kramer, Sarah Neal, Chris Peckham, Teal Porrini, Grace Ridge, Dana Sodd, Stefani Trifkovic, Daniel Walton.

It featured craft beer selections from: Rhinegeist, 50 West, Mad Tree, Listermann's, Jackie-O's,
And many more. Live music by Indie group Belmont. Delicious FOOD TRUCKS: Angelina's Italian Food Truck and U-Lucky Dog hot dog cart.



Modern Makers: Black&White

Black & White was a joint exhibition that took place in two partnering galleries in Cincinnati simultaneously: Niehoff Urban Studio (Clifton) and Harvest Gallery (Over-the-Rhine). Works in Niehoff Urban Studio explored the color Black and its associations; works in Harvest Gallery explored the color White and its associations. Through a range of media including art objects, performance and new media, artists interpreted the colors black and white both formally and conceptually. Artists manifested ideas and memories that embrace or subvert the popular but rigid chromatic and sociological polarity. Curated by Kate Tepe with Modern Makers, it featured the works of: Nanci Amaka, David Armacost, Joseph Baker, John Cairns, Linda Ding, Sam Dorgan, Kendra Eastman, Rae Goodwin, Susan Guagenti, Tyler Hamilton, Sidney Cherie, Hilley, Justin Hodges, Philip Lavelle, Kala Lewis, Emil Robinson, James Schenck, Denise Wellbrock, Evelyn Wilde, Paige Williams, Clint Woods, Lily Woods.



Niehoff Urban Studio's Spring Open House

On April 23, 2015, the Niehoff Urban Studio hosted our students' Spring 2015 Open House where we showed all the innovative work of this year's studios and classes. "Rethinking Burnet Woods" was the focus of this year's work within the overall studio theme of "Building Healthy and Resilient Places." We also hosted a panel discussion moderated by UrbanCincy on Urban Parks and Urban Life. Panelists included Chris Manning - Human Nature Landscape Architects and Parks Planner, Ken Stapleton - The Safedesign institute, Christy Samad - Senior Events Manager 3CDC with John Yung - UrbanCincy acting as moderator.

See event photos and Video. UrbanCincy's article 1 | article 2. View Student Work


East End Riverfest

Niehoff Urban Studio has been long involved with the East End community. In 2013, the Community Design Center produced the East End Area Plan. Consequently, in the Semester of Spring 2014, the Niehoff Urban Studio hosted a seminar through the horticulture department, in which students focused on Landscape Infrastructure and adaptation strategies to climate change in the neighborhood. In continuation to this ongoing relationship with the East End Community, Niehoff Urban Studio partnered with Propel in offering students 2 opportunities to impact and work directly with the community: the Flood Resilient Infill Housing Competition - for architecture students which granted a $1,500 prize to the winner, and the Place Branding initiative for students across the borders. This last class produced a blog highlighting local features and identity and celebrated their endeavors with the community with an East End Riverfest at the local Eli's Barbeque on April 26th.



Niehoff Urban Studio hosts DAAPCares

On April 14, 2015, the Niehoff Studio hosted for one more year this amazing initiative of DAAPCares. Works from different disciplines but all commited to social and environmental concerns were presented and discussed during the event.



Filling In: The Challenge of Merging New with Old in one of America's Most Inspired

Districts | Niehoff Urban Studio and the Over-the-Rhine Foundation

The Niehoff Urban Studio combined efforts with the Over-the-Rhine Foundation this Spring to bring Ellen Harris, the Director of the Urban Planning and Historic Preservation Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission, to talk about Savannah's best practices in implementing guidelines for infill development on its historic disctrict. Under the name: The Challenge of Merging New with the Old in One of America's Most Inspired Districts, Ellen worked with local stakeholders and guided the conversation on infill guidelines in Over-the-Rhine. This open to the public lecture happened on March 27th, in the Venue 222 (222 E 14th St) from 5:30 to 7:30pm. The next day, on March 28th, the Niehoff Urban Studio hosted the OTR Foundation Infill Committee workshop which gave start to the outline of the document, under Ellen's guidance. Thanks for the great turnout for the begining of this great discussion!

Niehoff Alum Series - Young Urbanists and their Mentors

The Niehoff Urban Studio has had the pleasure to highlight the inspiring work of Niehoff Studio Alums and their key collaborators as they build our city together. This event inaugurated a series for the recognition of young urbanists and experienced local leaders in developing our community in innovative and effective ways. The mentoring program/talk aims to inspire other urbanists while touching upon relevant urban topics, and promoting the exchange of ideas. This first edition was hosted at the Niehoff Urban Studio on March 25th, with Matt Anthony | Faculty Alum and Cincinnati Made, his collaborator Eric Avner | Haile Foundation; Kevin Wright | Alum and Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, and his collaborator Kathy Schwab | LISC.


Modern Makers: { M A T E R I A L S }

Materials construct the environment around us. Materialis examines a variety of contexts in architecture, design and art. From familiar to unusual applications, Materialis allows us to take a closer look at what this world is made of. This Modern Makers March 24, 2015 event featured the works of:

Amanda Bialk
Chelsea Cutrell
Abigail Friend
Joe Girandola
Mary Kate Heinrich
Matt Lynch
Ruth Myers
Carmen Ostermann
Teal Porrini
Jim Sheal
Lily Turner
Jenny Ustick
Rick Wolhoy
Anastasiya Yatsuk


ULI Hines Competition Cincinnati Team

Another of the fruitful results of our partnership with ULI Cincinnati resulted in the National Recognition for the ULI Hines Competition of our student team composed by Neda Mohsenianrad, Adam Raynes, Amy Morgan and Maliheh Aghanasiri with the mentorship of ULI members: Dan McCarthy, Steve Kenat, Phil Denning, David Neyer and Leah Hollstein. Congratulations to the team!

Final board and Narrative


Tastes Great, Boosts the Economy! Forum on Craft Beer as Community Development

Soapbox partnered again with the University of Cincinnati's Niehoff Urban Studio  on March 11, 2015 to host a forum on urban development trends, this time centering on neighborhood beer entrepreneurs, who brought samples of their newest products. The program of the evening included discussion and beer sampling.

For more info Click here. Craft & Community Development on WVXU.

AIA Cincinnati - Advocating for Your Profession

The AIA Cincinnati Advocacy Committee organized a panel at the Niehoff Urban Studio on Thursday February 19 to discuss the profession's influence over zoning and building code and how it is administered. Zoning and building codes, while often the least understood of the regulatory frameworks, has a profound impact on the form of the built environment. A panel moderated by AIA Managing Director Andrew Goldberg outlined best practices in the process of building plan review and progressive strategies for advocacy with state and federal policy makers. Panelists included Bruce Sekanick - AIA Ohio Valley Regional Director, David Miller - Chief of Staff, Office of Cincinnati City Councilmember Amy Murray, Amit Ghosh - Chief Building Official City of Cincinnati, and Maury Wyckoff - Chief Building Official Montgomery County, OH

Flood Resilient Infill Housing Competition at the East End

This Spring 2015 class concept came from the East End Community who has been working with the Niehoff Urban Studio/Community Design Center on a district urban design plan intended to repopulate this flood prone neighborhood. Students designed infill housing on specified locations throughout the district to help the community identity best practice models to address flood threats and community context. Modeled after the Katrina Competition, competing students interacted with the East End Community Council Leadership along with Faculty member Frank Russell. 1st place, 2nd place, Recognitions.

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.

East End Area Study: Community Based Urban Design

The Community Design Center collaborated with LISC and the East End Area council in addition to local stake holders to develop an urban design concept for an area in the East End. The efforts build from previously completed analysis and responds directly to the East End Area Council’s vision for developing a business district along Riverside Dr. The Community Design Center, aims to synthesize previous findings, and give physical form to the East End Area Council’s vision through the development of The East End Area Study.




See All Projects

Recent Press

  • November 13, 2015  Form, function, feeling: How Kroger's approach to Downtown retail is evolving Read More
  • September 23, 2015  UC Students Reimagine a Forgotten Urban Greenspace Read More
  • July 9, 2015  Reds dedicate Community Center, Playground Read More
  • July 9, 2015  Community Improvements as part of All Star Game Reds Community Fund Read More
  • July 9, 2015  Reds, MLB, P&Gteam up for West End clean up in preparation for All Star Game Read More
  • May 1st, 2015  Episode #50: Burnet Woods Read More
  • April 30, 2015  Record Crowd at Niehoff for Burnet Woods Read More
  • April 24, 2015  How could Burnet Woods become Cincinnati’s next great public space? Here are some ideas Read More
  • March 31, 2015  Report Quantifies Growing Influence of UC's Niehoff Urban Studio and Community Design Center Read More
  • March 26, 2015   Are we there yet? Three transportation projects that will keep us trucking, rolling, and railing along. Read More
  • November 20, 2014    Healthier Community builds innovative economy Read More
  • October 24, 2014    UC students present final cases in the UC-ULI Urban Development Competition Read More
  • July 9, 2014    Old-time shopkeepers corner market on loyalty Read More
  • May 19, 2014    The State of Local Food Report Read More
  • May 8, 2014    Lessons from Niehoff Urban Studio at the University of Cincinnati Read More
  • May 7, 2014    UC Students and Transportation Experts Pitch Their Ideas for the Wasson Corridor Read More
  • February 22, 2014    Seeds of success starting to grow in the East End Read More
  • October 30, 2013    City council candidates debate on issues of urbanism at the Niehoff Urban Studio Read More
  • October, 2013    CDC Student is featured for his work with the East End Neighborhood Read More
  • September 25, 2013   Hyde Park residents can weigh in on trail design Read More
  • September 23, 2013   Wasson Way Trail could be hub of activities and economic growth Read More
  • March 12, 2013    River access means money for West Side, NKY Read More
  • 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