Fairview-Clifton German Language School
Cincinnati Public Schools
Located on a prominent corner site in Cincinnati’s Clifton neighborhood, this school completes an informal campus comprising the school, an 1860’s carriage house, the Clifton Recreation Center and the Clifton Cultural Arts Center. The carriage house, a remnant of an earlier building on the site, is being renovated as studio and performance space for the Arts Center. The site is also home to one of the largest specimens of yew tree in Ohio. It is the school’s dialog with these various elements and buildings that shape its character. The tall roof of the entry and cafeteria inflects upward and outward toward the most public corner of the site in a sign of welcome. The transparency of the façade here reveals the life inside the school, an appropriate gesture for a public institution. The entry and cafeteria wrap the yew, at once venerating the tree and using its bulk to shade the extensively glazed elevation. The school’s shape, along with the carriage house, form a courtyard into which the art and music rooms open. The courtyard provides a variety of play, gathering and performance spaces.
Materials and construction inevitably change. This school is built of insulated, precast concrete panels, reinforced with carbon fiber and faced in brick veneer. Yet elements of the other buildings find their way into the school: the color of the carriage house’s stone in the exposed aggregate of the concrete base, the ivory brick of the art and recreation centers in the veneer of the school, and the rationality of the neoclassical art center in the strict proportioning of the precast panels and localized symmetry. Old and new, woven together.