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Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, Ohio

Over the course of 10 years, Karen Sullivan worked with The Union Institute & University to renovate the Beau Brummel and Gruen Buildings, which are both listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The project involved restoring the exterior, replacement of mechanical and electrical systems with more energy efficient components, as well as researching and renovating the historic lobby, which had been demolished by a previous owner. Historic preservation and renovation not only respect our built heritage, but also utilize the embodied energy and materials inherent to existing structures.

The Gruen Building was designed by John Henri Deeken and Guy Burroughs and constructed in 1917. It was formerly the academic headquarters for Union Institute & University. Here watch crystals and bands were manufactured and watches assembled that included movements made at the sister property in Madre-Biel, Switzerland.

The original lobby of the Gruen building had been completely removed by previous owners. The restoration was based on extensive historic research, found artifacts and a recovered sketch from the early 1900s. Replica Rookwood tiles were produced for the walls and floors.

The copper hood at the fireplace was also replicated, and custom light fixtures and millwork detailed to restore the original lobby. This project won the Cincinnati Design Preservation Award and the State of Ohio Design Preservation Award.

The Gruen building is Swiss Tudor style with stucco, timbers, and a tile roof with copper accents.

The Beau Brummel building, constructed in 1921 as the Procter and Collier advertising agency, was designed by Elzner & Anderson architects.  Now the home of The Union Institute and University, it houses classrooms, libraries, and other academic facilities.

Street view of the Union Institute & University, showing the carefully reconstructed rock retaining walls.

The landscaping was one of Natorp's first commercial projects in Cincinnati, and Natorp's was used for the updated landscaping for the renovated buildings.

The Beau Brummel building from the street, with a view of the tower. The tower originally housed water for one of the first building sprinkler systems in the city of Cincinnati.

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