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The Banks Cincy

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Design board: Changes to Banks hotel’s facade look good

Revised drawings for the exterior of The Banks new hotel are an improvement but need additional refinement, members of the Cincinnati Urban Design Review Board say. The revisions went before the board Wednesday, a week after the board panned original plans for the hotel’s facade as lacking boldness.

Representatives from the hotel’s developer, Blue Ash-based Winegardner & Hammons, said they focused on adding more glass to the hotel’s facade, creating a more comprehensive design and updating the hotel’s signage in preparation for the second meeting.

Members of the review board said they appreciated the changes, especially the added glass and open design of the street-level commercial and retail space.

“I think it adds a lot more life to the street,” board member Paul Muller said during the meeting.

The board serves in an advisory capacity, but has had influence on various downtown projects over the years.

Despite the improvement, the board said additional changes needed to be made, offering minor suggestions on the hotel’s sign, a four-story-tall animation board, the stairs and the building’s facade.

The board will review additional changes when it meets in early June.

At Wednesday’s meeting, board members still believe the metal framing around the AC Hotel sign wasn’t necessary, something they expressed last week.

Terry Dammeyer, senior vice president of construction at Winegardner & Hammons, said the designers tried getting rid of the metal framing but thought it was “underwhelming.” Instead, they decided to reduce the amount of framing.

“We thought it was the best of both worlds,” he said. “We didn’t feel good about it without it.”

Later in the meeting, Muller suggested that the four-story-tell animation board planned near the southwest corner of Joe Nuxhall and Freedom ways should tilt off the wall, something the representatives from Winegardner & Hammons thought might be possible.

Board member Jim Fitzgerald offered a similar suggestion, saying designers should bring the animation board off the hotel’s facade by a foot.

Fitzgerald also said the stars on the east entrance of the building off Joe Nuxhall Way looked compressed and too compact. He suggested widening or lengthening the staircase, something Winegardner & Hammons representatives didn’t think would be possible since it’s public property.

Board member John Senhauser suggested designers focus less on architectural improvements and more on style, color and graphics.