A Historic Renovation Revives Spectacular Cincinnati Music Hall
Originally built in 1878, the Cincinnati Music Hall reopened in October 2017 after a $143 million renovation that revives its former architectural glory and enhances the audience experience. A mix of private funding and a $25 million historic tax credit from the state of Ohio funded its substantial renovation. With such a significant building at stake, the Music Hall renovation project required consultation from a team of experts, including architects, builders, historic preservationists, preservation associations, and historic window replication specialists.
“One of the objectives from the very outset of the project was to reopen as many windows as we could,” said architect Alan Weiskopf, AIA, Managing Principal at PWWG in Pittsburgh. “We wanted not only to bring daylight into the public areas of the building, but we wanted the building to glow at night, through its windows as it did originally when it was built.”
The team exposed previously hidden windows that now look out on Washington Park, including a trio of transom windows beneath the building’s iconic grand rose window. “Those windows were completely special,” said Weiskopf, “and Marvin [Windows and Doors] was able to recreate the original tracery pattern in those three transom windows.” Replicating these decorative transoms so they would not only look historically accurate, but would also live up to modern performance standards, was a task made for Marvin’s historic team. The company has always approached historic replication with a strong focus on performance. Marvin’s extensive customization abilities were an ideal fit for the project. There was only one problem. Very few images existed showing what the windows originally looked like and there were no large-scale architect drawings available. Working together, the patron and architects found one photo from the 1950s showing the window details. By digitally enhancing the photos, scanning them, and enlarging them, they could recreate the exact patterns on all three windows, reviving an intricate piece of history after decades.
Another hurdle in the window replication process was the variance in window sizes. Marvin supplied the Music Hall project with 103 total windows, of which approximately 90 were custom, and even two windows that appeared identical could have a ¼-inch difference in size.
Working closely with Curtis Hoffman, project manager at Messer construction, Marvin’s Architectural Services team produced paper templates of each window for Messer’s team to insert in the openings and confirm that they would fit before construction began. This attention to detail and precision helped ensure that the windows fit exactly, eliminating waste and extra steps.
Today, when the Music Hall hosts Cincinnatians for performances, it brings them together in a spectacular space awash with beauty and history. The renovated Music Hall helps revitalize its surrounding community, upholding historic craftsmanship and honoring the past while looking forward to an exciting future.