Save the Terrace Plaza Hotel


Docomomo US Staff


Newsletter, Threatened, Advocacy
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Built in 1945-46, the Terrace Plaza was the first International-style hotel built in the United States; and the first commission of Skidmore Owings and Merrill to be widely published and propelled the firm into the national spotlight. It was a pivotal project for SOM because it used an interdisciplinary design team, many of which who went on to their own remarkable careers. Most notably, its chief designer, Natalie de Blois, was a rare pioneering woman architect and member of a team of other designers who conceived of every detail of the building—interiors, furniture, textiles, uniforms, tableware, graphics—and even ashtrays.

Although it opened to much fanfare and was initially successful, the building has suffered a long decline and has been vacant since 2008. 

2019 Update

After considerable advocacy efforts, the push to landmark the Terrace Plaza Hotel is gaining steam. Earlier this year, City Council member David Mann filed an application with the city's Historic Conservation Board seeking to make the downtown Cincinnati hotel a local historic landmark. At a hearing on February 25, a huge hurdle was overcome when the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board voted 5-1 to recommend Terrace Plaza for landmarking. Next, it goes to the City Planning Commission and then a vote by City Council for approval. Docomomo US will continue to provide updates as the story develops. 

"Board Recommends Landmark Designation For Terrace Plaza Hotel,", February 26, 2019.

"The Terrace Plaza could get local landmark status," City Beat, January 15, 2019.

January 2018

In early January 2018, Docomomo was made aware of imminent plans to negatively alter the nationally significant Terrace Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. The current owner was poised to accept an offer from a developer to savagely strip its innovative stack-bond brick and employ an all-glass approach to the exterior. While the Cincinnati Preservation Association continues to advocate for a historic tax credit based approach, without a new developer or a change of heart, the status of the building is in question.


In their efforts to find a preservation-minded developer, the Cincinnati Preservation Association utilized a number of unique strategies to increase awareness and appreciation for the building. Paul Muller, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association stated, "because the current condition of the building makes it difficult for the public to appreciate its significant, we arranged access to the Terrace Plaza for a preservation minded photographer, Phil Armstrong. Phil recreated a number of the 1948 Ezra Stoller photographs. The side by side photos have been very helpful in showing the brilliance of original design." He added the Cincinnati Preservation Association also "hosted a visit to the Terrace Plaza by Natalie de Blois a few years before her death. She was delighted and I believe it was the first time she was ever at the building."


As the Cincinnati Preservation Association continues to have "almost daily discussions with the owner's team looking for creative solutions, " without the enlistment a local or national developer, time may be running out for the Terrace Plaza.


Read Docomomo US' full letter of support HERE

Terrace Plaza Redevelopment Opportunity PDF and Plans