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Philanthropy Friday: Design Innovations for Community

 Margaret Robinson, The Columbus Foundation Philanthropy Friday: Design Innovations for Community
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A large group of smart and passionate Columbus supporters came together at the Franklin Park Conservatory to celebrate the Columbus Landmarks 2011 Annual Design & Preservation Awards Thursday night. Columbus pride was spilling from all of the speakers and award winners.

“Columbus is magical. Columbus is America. Cities like Columbus are the future. This is the heart and soul of America,” local historian Ed Lentz told the crowd while accepting the Outstanding Person award.

It’s hard to disagree with such statements when you see the five finalists for the most prominent award of the evening, the 2011 James B. Recchie Design Award.

“Every single one of these projects used Columbus design firms,” said Nancy Recchie, volunteer chair and sister of the awards namesake.

Nancy Recchie and judges Cleve Ricksecker and Mark Feinknopf enjoy the celebration. Photo by Nick George.

Since 1984, the Recchie award has honored excellence in urban design in historic or new buildings and places. Distinctive character and improving the quality of life in Columbus are part of the criteria in the judging.

The 2011 James B. Recchie Design Award judges were:

  • Mark Feinknopf, Architecture & Planning Consultant, Sacred Space Inc.
  • Patty Stevens, Chief of Park Planning, Cleveland Metroparks
  • Cleve Ricksecker, Executive Director, Capital Crossroads and Discovery District SID

Centennial High School students Hannah Converse, Hannah Mason-Macklin, and Aaron Aebie, accept the Paul E. Young, Jr. Students Award for their efforts with the Hanford Village Legacy Project. Find information about all of the award winners at http://www.columbuslandmarks.org. Photo by Nick George.

Cleve Ricksecker had no problem highlighting powerful aspects of the finalists. The transformation of Cunz Hall, built in 1968 on The Ohio State University campus, had Ricksecker stunned.

Cunz Hall - 1841 Neil Avenue. Designer: Jonathan Barnes Architecture & Design, MSI. Owner: The Ohio State University.

“To see a design team turn a bunker-like building into something that spills out into the surrounding blocks and invites light into the building is amazing.”

Rickersecker is excited by what Columbus City Schools is doing with finalist, East High School.

East High School - 1500 E. Broad Street. Designers: Moody-Nolan, Inc., Schooley Caldwell Associates. Owner: Columbus City Schools.

“Columbus City Schools really leads the way in Ohio for encouraging reuse of older school buildings. It’s a cathedral of education with those skylights, the auditorium and the library.”

One Neighborhood Condominiums, another finalist, has transformed downtown Columbus in Ricksecker’s eyes.

One Neighborhood Condominiums - 50 N. 4th Street. Designer: Brian Kent Jones Architects, Lupton Rausch Architects, Inc. Owner: Edwards Companies.

“It’s a pretty amazing project. Pedestrian traffic on Gay Street has increased three-to-four fold since the project was built. People love walking Gay Street now. People used to drive from one place to another downtown.”

The jaw-dropping Scioto Mile has made Ricksecker cry.

The Scioto Mile. Designer: MSI, 360 Architecture, Schooley Caldwell Associates, HKI. Owner: Columbus Downtown Development Corporation and Columbus Recreation & Parks Department.

“It’s a very complex project and everyone involved got it all right. It’s a testament to the huge amount of talent we have locally. The design work is exquisite. It’s playful. I was moved to tears walking. It makes me really proud to live in Columbus, where a public space was done as well as the Scioto Mile.”

The Lincoln Theatre, which has everyone inspired and engaged, is the deserving winner of the 2011 James B. Recchie Design Award.

Lincoln Theatre - 769 E. Long Street. Designer: Hardlines Design Company. Owner: Lincoln Theatre Association/CAPA.

“Everyone who was involved was working at their peak. It’s a fabulous contribution to our city and it’s because of collaboration. To me, the Lincoln Theatre represents what community is all about,” said Mark Feinknopf.

CAPA’s Todd Bemis did a great job of ending his acceptance speech by noting the importance of supporting places like the Lincoln.

“Too many cities have lost their great theaters. Columbus can be proud. If you haven’t been to the Lincoln, come join us. If you’ve been there, thank you, but please come back again.”

For more information on the Columbus Landmarks Foundation, visit PowerPhilanthropy®, The Columbus Foundation’s giving tool with information on nearly 600 central Ohio nonprofits, which can help you help others through the most effective philanthropy possible. Or, visit their website.

Philanthropy Friday is a feature series produced by The Columbus Foundation that highlights Columbus area nonprofit organizations. For more nonprofit information, follow us on Twitter at @colsfoundation and like The Columbus Foundation on Facebook.

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