This article first appeared in the September 2022 issue of ARCHITECT.
Since moving to Cincinnati in 2005, architect Sanyog Rathod, AIA, has become a serious booster for his adoptive hometown. “Cincinnati is a mecca for architects,” says Rathod. “On the one hand, it has more than a dozen contemporary buildings by world-famous architects – Gehry, Libeskind, Zaha. On the other hand, it has this massive ongoing collection of historic buildings.
As the founder of Sol Design + Consulting, Rathod’s own inclinations lie in the contemporary camp, as evidenced by his office’s long experience as a designer and collaborator on a wide range of renovations, ground buildings and interiors. interiors, all marked with an emphasis on energy efficiency. At the same time, Rathod has proven to be passionate about the city’s unique architectural heritage – a commitment that has helped propel one of Sol’s most energy-efficient projects to date, the Myers-Heckman Residence in the Over-the-Rhine district.
“In terms of urban density, the character of the neighborhood is very comparable to places like Brooklyn or Chicago, with a particularly high concentration of historic structures,” Rathod explains. Originally a haven for Cincinnati’s German immigrant community, Over-the-Rhine grew and prospered from the early 19th century through the first half of the 20th; thereafter it fell into steep decline, only to rebound from the turn of the millennium as longtime Cincinnatians and newcomers alike rediscovered its charming blend of Queen Anne and Italianate-style buildings. After settling there, Rathod joined the local nonprofit Over-the-Rhine Foundation to help protect the neighborhood’s architectural and cultural assets; it was there that he met Kristen Myers and her husband Chris Heckman, other members of the foundation who quickly became friends and began talking to the architect, vaguely at first, about the possibility of creating a new house for themselves in the area. “It took us about six years to do it,” says Rathod.
Completed in 2021, the four-story, 4,000 square foot home is proof positive of how ecological sensitivity and historic preservation can work in concert. The adaptive reuse project began with an archetypal specimen of the Over-the-Rhine streetscape: an 1870 townhouse, with a brick facade and decorative details, with a narrow courtyard behind it. Hoping to increase usable space, the architect and his clients decided to add an extension to the rear as well as an addition to the upper level, immediately necessitating tough decisions about competing priorities.
“The design seeks to respect historic architecture and allow for contemporary intervention, while achieving near-zero net energy performance,” Rathod said. Topping the aluminum-clad roof with solar panels and choosing wood and high-efficiency windows for the rear addition, the Sol team used eco-friendly materials to articulate a distinct identity for the new parts of the house. house that still complement the original.
Context-awareness went further. “Soon after conceptualizing our design for the addition, we invited the Over-the-Rhine Foundation to critique our response for its historical relevance,” Rathod said. Seeking input from other Over-the-Rhiners, Sol and company were encouraged to reduce the width of the extension volume to better match the building’s original footprint. They took the same painstaking measures with the interior, which still boasted a substantial amount of period detail; determined to keep it, the designers removed the ornate moldings, panels and mantels, applied new high-performance insulation, then reapplied all the ornamentation exactly as it had been before the renovation.
True to its dual role as architect and sustainability consultant, Sol has succeeded in reducing household energy consumption by more than two-thirds, reusing more than 60% of the site’s water, and generating enough water. electricity to power the structure for more than six months. Through it all, the designers have been aided by their clients’ careful site selection: the property sits along a tram line and within walking distance of a large farmers’ market, making the most of the traditional and pedestrian-friendly town planning of Over-the-Rhine. . The embodied carbon savings resulting from the building’s preservation further reinforced the project’s green bona fides, serving as further proof of something that the Sol team’s extensive research and data analysis have already convinced them. “It’s a common myth among developers and builders that historic renovations and sustainability are at loggerheads,” Rathod says. “Everything we’ve learned shows that historic renovations are inherently sustainable.”
Project: Myers-Heckman Residence, Cincinnati, Ohio
Customer/Owner: Kristen Myers and Chris Heckman
Architects: Sol Design + Consulting, Cincinnati. Sanyog Rathod, AIA (Architect, President and CEO), Carl Sterner, AIA (Director of Design and Sustainability), Nate Steeber, Director of Certifications, Mandy Stephens, Project Coordinator
Interior designer: kitchen design by NOLI Modern
Mechanical Engineer: HVAC Design-Build by Zimmer Heating & Cooling
Structural engineer: Schaefer, Inc.
General contractor: GreenBau
Landscape architect: Tepe Landscape & Design Group
Sol design + consulting also provided LEED certification services (in addition to architectural design)
Area: 4,000 square feet
MATERIALS AND SOURCES
Adhesives, Coatings and Sealants:
Appliances: Miele range hood
Miele induction hob
Miele speed oven
Miele convection oven
Sanitary: Nebia shower (guest bath)
Main bathroom and children’s bathtub: Brizo Odin shower, faucets, towel hook, towel rack
Kohler Highline Dual Flush Toilets
Cabinets: Maistri kitchen cabinets, supplied by NOLI Modern
Exterior wall systems: Huber Zip cladding (new construction part only)
Standing Seam Metal by Metal Sales
Fabrics and finishes: 98% of existing trim, baseboards and paneling removed, refinished and reinstalled over new rigid insulation
Flooring: The original hardwood floor has been refinished on 67% of the floor area
New hardwood flooring was locally harvested walnut by Schlabach Woodworks
HVAC: Mestek Space Pak – air handling units
ClimateMaster Tranquility 27 – geothermal heat pump
Panasonic Intelli-Balance – Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV)
Insulation: InSoFast (rigid insulation on existing walls)
Photovoltaic or other renewable energies: 9.9 kW solar panel by Icon Solar
Roofing: Standing Seam Metal by Metal Sales
Windows and Doors: Pella Architect Reserve Windows and Doors, NanaWall, Quaker Windows (Vertical Showcase)