Cincinnati Design Disaster Awards: The Results are In!

Why didn’t somebody tell me that Eric Avner is funny?

Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, Eric is the Vice President of the Haile Foundation and Senior Program Manager – Community Development.   But in an earlier phase of his evolution, Mr. Avner was an urban planner for the city of Newport with a background in historic preservation – so he pays more attention to building design than normal human beings.

Last week, a few days before the truly prestigious Cincinnati Design Awards, Eric set-up a Facebook page, sent out a press release and gave everybody 36 hours to nominate their choices for “less than stellar achievements in local architecture, interior design, graphic design, and landscapes.”  All tongue-very-much-in-cheek, of course.

In case you missed the official announcement, here are this year’s winners:

Winner: Best Economy of Design 

uc banks

Kudos to the City, County and University of Cincinnati for saving a boatload of cash by using the same design twice. The jury repeatedly confused the designs of The Banks and U Square, proving the issue of homogenization of design is slowly overwhelming our built environment. After all, it’s clearly a waste of time and money to come up with original designs for every location. Perhaps we’re just returning to the historical trend of architectural pattern books. If it was good enough for Palladio, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson Downing, it’s probably good enough for us, too.

Winner: Best New Student Housing

incline village

Oh wait, nevermind. That’s Incline Village.    

(If I’m not mistaken this is Mayor Cranley’s condo development in Price Hill.)

Winner: Best Fear of Ornament


The latest phase of Mercer Commons demonstrates what happens when “streamlined” is taken to the extreme. Someone appears to be listening to Adolf ‘Ornament is Crime’ Loos, Walter ‘Avoidance of Applied Decoration’ Gropius, and Mies ‘Less is More’ van der Rohe a little too literally. Let’s show some flair, people!

DOUBLE WINNER: Best Demonstration of Garagaphobia & Best Engineered Obsolescence 

oakley station
In an era where homebuyers flock to walkable neighborhoods, where sewers are overwhelmed by stormwater runoff, and where landlocked cities strive to use limited land wisely, it’s comforting to know that we still demand massive surface parking lots. Oakley Station at The Center of Cincinnati has more surface lots than anyone else in town. But hey, parking garages are scary.

We’re also grateful that the developer of Oakley Station at The Center of Cincinnati chose to build his big boxes with materials that may allow the community a chance to redevelop the site again in 20 years.

Winner (TIE): Best Place to Watch the World Drive By While You Eat Your Breakfast Cereal

delta 1 delta 2

Kudos to One Rookwood in Norwood’s Rookwood Exchange and Delta Flats in Columbia Tusculum for taking advantage of the yet-untapped market of people who want to live close to highways. Not just close, but REALLY close. Close enough to feel it. Like 20 feet from your balcony to Columbia Parkway. Or 50 feet from your bedroom to I-71’s northbound lanes. Ah, home sweet home.

3 thoughts on “Cincinnati Design Disaster Awards: The Results are In!

  1. Eric Avner

    Thanks for the accolades, but I can’t take the sole credit for the Design Disaster Awards. Yes, I was involved, but so were numerous others… I had to promise not to reveal the identities of the others, as they are all involved in the design community in some way.

    1. executivedreamer Post author

      That copy was not a committee effort, Mr. Avner, and whoever wrote it, please forward Cincyopolis-kudos on their creative writing skills. I will be laughing about the ‘best student housing’ award until next year.


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