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2009 Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award Recipients

Preservation Merit Award to Lorenz Williams Architects and CityWide Development Corporation for the rehabilitation and adaptive use of the 1913 McCormick Building at 434 East First Street in Dayton.

Constructed in 1913, the McCormick Building originally housed a plumbing supply business. Lorenz Williams transformed the dilapidated 32,000-square-foot structure into a mix of office space, which the design firm itself now occupies, and ten loft-style apartment units. The surrounding neighborhood of Webster Station has also undergone revitalization thanks to the completion of Fifth Third Field, a ballpark for Dayton’s minor league baseball team, the Dragons.

Lorenz Williams' offices occupy parts of four floors of the building. A grand stair connects these levels. Its ascent takes place at odd angles, modulated by landings and jauntily positioned walls. The materials and jarring shapes create a dialogue with the existing structure's historic backdrop. The architects describe this stair as a “theater of movement” and “an interactive, participatory event that gives meaning to the experience of architecture.” Although it energizes the space and provides circulation, the grand stair also creates privacy for the offices. It offers those on the stair an ever-changing view of designers at work in their offices, yet staff continue to work unaware of the foot traffic passing above and below them. In contrast to this striking interior, the McCormick Building's exterior was restored to its original appearance—including the windows.

The McCormick Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history and for its architectural significance, is located in the Webster Station area of downtown Dayton and across the street from the Fifth Third field.

Owned by CityWide Development Corporation, the building was scheduled for demolition in 2004 if a suitable future use could not be identified. Lorenz Williams, the Dayton area's oldest and largest architectural firm, identified the building as a potential site for relocating its offices. The firm had played a significant role in saving several historic Dayton landmarks including the Old Post Office, Victoria Theatre, Arcade Square and the art deco Hulman Building. Working in collaboration with CityWide Development, Lorenz Williams decided in the fall of 2003 to move ahead with a major renovation under an aggressive schedule that called for occupancy by July 31, 2004, less than one year away.

Complicating the project scope was a previous agreement that any future reuse of the McCormick Building would be 50% residential. So the 32,000 square foot historic building was renovated to accommodate the offices of Lorenz Williams, and ten loft apartment and townhouse units. Over the last seven years, Fifth Third Field has become a major destination and focal point of the central business district. Accordingly, the division of space in the McCormick Building affords each user with a reference and prime view of the stadium.

CityWide utilized the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit to finance the project. As a result, the Lorenz Williams design team worked closely with the Ohio Historic Preservation Office to ensure that the renovation met the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.

The historic main entry facing Fifth Third Stadium is dedicated to two townhouses. The original loading dock, located on the backside of the building, serves as the entrance for the remaining apartment units and the design firm. The offices of Lorenz Williams occupy portions of the lower level and the first, second and third floors. The spaces are connected by a grand stair that combined with the stair wells, forms a theater for movement.

The renovation was completed with sensitivity to the environment. All lumber was reused, and existing windows and brick were refurbished. All of the windows in the building are operable.

The project has been the recipient of several other awards, including a merit award from Ohio Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and two honor awards from Dayton Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, one for the building and one for the grand stair as a distinguished detail.

2009 Awards 
Presentation Image. Click to view slides of the awards presentation.

Click here to return to the list of 2008 Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award recipients.

Click here for a list of past Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award recipients.

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