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Design Digest: 360 Architecture

Walker Evans Walker Evans Design Digest: 360 Architecture
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If you’ve lived in Columbus for a little while, you’ve most likely been enjoying the Arena District in some capacity. Between the sports venues, music venues, movie theater, parks, restaurants and other spaces, there’s something there that appeals to just about everyone. What you may not realize is that one architectural firm is responsible for the design of many of those diverse places, and has maintained a Columbus office for just as long as the Arena District has been around.

360 Architecture calls Kansas City their original home, but a talented team of architects reside full time in Columbus to run the branch responsible for designing some of the most notable new buildings Downtown.

We recently spoke with Dan Hanes, design director for the Columbus office of 360 Architecture, to find out more about the company and their local work.

Q: First, can you tell us a bit about your personal background?

A: I graduated from Architecture school in 1991, in an economy similar to the current economy… poor. I was lucky enough to get a job at one of the largest sports and entertainment firms in the nation. For the next nine years I had worked primarily on four projects that lasted for around two years each: two NHL hockey arenas (St. Louis and Buffalo), an MLB ballpark (Phoenix), and an NBA Arena (Miami Heat). All the while, in the back of my mind, I knew I needed to work on different sizes and types of projects if I wanted to grow as an architect. So I joined a company that would eventually become 360 Architecture. At that time we were working on Nationwide Arena, and through that work, the opportunity to create a new Downtown district became a real possibility. I was extremely intrigued.

Q: So is that when 360 began its history in Columbus?

A: 360 Architecture is a fifteen year old firm that started off specializing in sports architecture. We first came to Columbus for the design of the Nationwide Arena, which we did in partnership with NBBJ. The client for that job was developing the area around the Arena and invited us to open an office in Columbus. So we have been here for 13 years, and working on some pretty amazing projects in Columbus and throughout Ohio.

Q: A lot of the work that 360 has completed in Columbus is in the Arena District. Can you tell us a bit more about your relationship with that neighborhood?

A: The Arena District is the reason we have an office in Columbus. It has been a great experience to work with many of Columbus leaders, both private and public. The Arena District would not be possible with out Nationwide Insurance committed to investing in their home city. So while 360 has designed many of the notable projects in the district… Nationwide Arena, Huntington Park, the Arena Grand Theatre, North Bank Condos, the LC Pavillion, and Arena Crossing Apartments. I see the district architecturally as a cumulation of many talanted architectural firms working toward created a cohesive, and timeless district.

Personally this means I have gotten to work with some of the other high profile design firms in Columbus, including MKSK who are the master planners of the District, and other architectural firms such as Lupton Rausch, NBBJ, Sullivan Bruck, Acock and Associates, and Meleca Architecture.

Q: With so many different firms and different projects in the Arena District, does 360 Architecture approach each project individually or is there a cohesion between the buildings that you must adhere to?

A: Nationwide Reality Investors, the developers of the Arena District, have a very strong vision on what the Arena District should be. They are always learning from the last project we do together, and challenging us to improve upon it.

Most of the projects we work on in the Arena District are completely different internally. A movie theater, an arena, a concert hall, a parking garage, office spaces, apartments… they all have their own internal programming that informs so much of the overall building. Being a lazy person at heart, I would love to do a project that was just like the last one and take things easy, but I have not yet had that opportunity!

Q: One of your recent projects outside the district is Milestone 229, which has gotten a lot of praise from our readers both as a restaurant and as an architectural centerpiece in the Scioto Mile. Can you tell us a bit about that project, and have you been pleased with the community response to it?

A: Yes, Milestone 229 was part of the Scioto Mile Project that MKSK was kind enough to invite us, as well as other talent designers, to work on. We did the cafe and toilet rooms for the fountains, the basement that houses the pumps for the fountain, and the band shell. We approached the design as a combination of rustic park structures with a contempary architectural flavor.

For the restaurant, we wanted ultraclear glass for views of the fountain, but need to protect the interior from solar glare, so that the building could perform with energy efficiency. We created a computer program to calculate the sun angles for the worst days of the summer, and that program informed the shape of the canopy. In turn, the canopy created a great exterior space to enjoy the fountains and Downtown Columbus. As for the recognition, that is always appreciated, but the majority of the praise should go to the team at MKSK for managing project, and designing a jewel on the Columbus riverfront.

Q: 360 recently moved into new offices, correct?

A: Yes. We had been in the office building attached Nationwide Arena for 11 years. Another tenant in the building wanted our suite, so we took the opportunity to clean house and move to our new space, just across the street from the North Market on the ground level of the Arena Crossing Apartments, right next to the R Bar. While it was a painful process, it is great to have an updated space with current technologies.

Q: In general, do you think Columbus is a city that appreciates good architecture, or do we still have a ways to go before we see more emphasis placed on the design of our public and private spaces?

A: I think all people appreciate good design, whether or not they can articulate what it is they like about it. I feel Columbus has greatly improved its public spaces over the 12 years that I have lived here. Columbus is a reflection of most of America (maybe that why we are always a swing state, and why new restaurants are tested out here). That is the challenge I enjoy when it comes to designing in Columbus. To take into account the taste of the general public and still try to design a project that is pushing the architecture forward.

Q: Are there any other exciting new projects that you’re currently working on, or looking forward to in the near future?

A: We are working on some projects that will be a great addition to Columbus, but they are in the planning phase and we are sworn to secrecy. During the last couple years we have been doing some exciting work in the Middle East, which I can talk about!

We were selected as the architect for the new sports city in Basra, Iraq, which is a project that consists of two soccer stadiums. One seats 70,000 and the other 20,000. They include train facilities, indoor pools and athletic housing. Our other Middle East project was the design of a 25,000 seat soccer staduim for King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.

Q: Anything else we should know about 360 Architecture?

A: Yes! Our studio in Columbus is a great collection of some very talented and hardworking people, that are always trying to make the city they work in a better place. We would not be successful without the dedication and talent of everyone working at 360 Architecture.

More information about 360 Architecture can be found at www.360architects.com.

All photos provided courtesy of 360 Architecture. Huntington Park and Arena Grand Theatre photos by Brad Feinkonpf.

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