The design for an outdoor dining space at the historic Rookwood Pottery building carried with it some daunting challenges: It is on the National Register of Historic Places; it needs to function as an extension of an existing restaurant and it has a tight budget and a restrictive site.The design solution took formal cues from the existing building’s elevation, as well as the restaurant’s interior plan which features circular nodes around the historic pottery’s kilns to create juxtaposition between the circular and orthogonal features. The new outdoor kiln includes a hearth used as an intimate gathering and performance space around a fire, as well as an outdoor grill providing both a formal and functional center.

The gable ends of the historic building were reflected in the plan by turning the addition at a forty-five degree angle, complementing the existing site. The second level deck, which we added to the program, echoes the angular scheme from the main level while taking advantage of the panoramic views to the city. It also provides the necessary access from the second floor of the restaurant, while sheltering the bar area below.

Finally, the two short walls – one curved around the hearth at the main level, and one orthogonal on the upper level – tie the composition in the language of this historic Cincinnati landmark.