DNK Designed Cincinnati Streetcar Maintenance Facility Featured in Business Courier

DSC_2169Chris Wetterich wrote a great article in the Cincinnati Business Courier today about the Cincinnati Streetcar Maintenance Facility, which was designed by DNK.

For the full article, click here.

The article praises the design for filling the space with natural light, a feat described as “tricky.”  However, anyone who knows DNK knows that we solve tricky problems every day.  That’s what we do.

DNK is delighted to be a part of this project that is so crucial to the advancement of Downtown and Over-the-Rhine, the heart of our city.  Thanks to the Business Courier for the great piece.


Cincinnati Streetcar Maintenance and Operations Facility


At the corner of Race and Henry Streets in Over-the-Rhine, the Cincinnati Streetcar Maintenance and Operations Facility (MOF) is taking shape. This key component of the new Cincinnati Streetcar system will enable the City and SORTA to keep streetcar vehicles clean and in good working order.

DNK designed the MOF. The MOF was a unique project since it had to be intricately designed around the functional requirements of the maintenance and operation of modern streetcar vehicles. The Cincinnati MOF is a facility that is uniquely tailored to the requirements of the Cincinnati Streetcar system and their custom streetcar vehicles.

The building has two service bays, which can be identified by their accompanying high-bay doors on the north side of the building. Each service bay features a “pit” that allows mechanics to easily access the underside of the vehicle. The Cincinnati MOF has a different type of pit in each of its two service bays, a “gauge,” or narrow, pit that fits between the tracks, and a wide pit that extends beyond the outside of the vehicle with the rails elevated on steel support columns. The wide pit provides for easier inspection of both the inside and outside of the undercarriage.

The wheel trucks are the support, locomotion, and suspension system of the streetcar vehicle. They support the vehicle body, provide stability, ensure comfort by absorbing vibration and minimizing the impact of centrifugal force when turning, and minimize track deformation and rail abrasion. Each truck has four wheels and tires on two axles, with two motors and two braking systems.

The MOF also includes a mezzanine level, providing workers with direct access to the roof of the streetcar, where much of the streetcar’s equipment is located. One of these equipment items is the pantograph, or the arm that reaches up to the overhead catenary system (OCS), which is the power supply for the vehicle. Offices, locker rooms, a conference room, and a break room are located under the mezzanine.

The streetcar storage yard sits immediately west of the maintenance facility. It has capacity to hold all five of the system’s vehicles when they are not in use. The entire site is surrounded by a perimeter wall or fence for security. Security is important not only because the vehicles are expensive, but also because the site can be dangerous to people not properly trained to work around high-voltage electrical equipment.

In addition to the MOF’s functional characteristics, DNK also had to carefully consider aesthetics. The MOF is located in the Over-the-Rhine historic district, which, according to the OTR Foundation, is believed to be the largest, most intact urban historic district in the United States. The MOF building does not attempt to replicate the nearby historic architecture, but rather combines some of the patterns of massing and fenestration found in nearby historic buildings with a modern look that better reflects the forward-looking nature of Cincinnati’s new modern streetcar system. By mimicking the massing and patterns of the historic buildings, the MOF fits seamlessly into the historic district without having to meticulously copy every detail of the existing historic architecture.

When Sketches are Better for Communicating Ideas

I ran across a blog post on Linkedin by Nancy Duarte that explores why it is sometimes better to present ideas in a rough, sketchy form than it is to present them in a polished form.  I’ve found this to be the case in my work, especially on projects where public and/or owner input is crucial in the early stages.  Presenting ideas with sketches or in a less polished form tends to convey the message that the ideas are open to discussion and revision, providing a better opportunity for meaningful feedback.  What do you think?  Does the level of “polish” in a presentation affect how you provide feedback?  Read the article and let us know in the comments.

FacilityONE® Solution at UC Health DNK Implements

FacilityONE Solution Partner Implements FacilityONE® Facility Information Solution at Major Academic Health System

DNK, a FacilityONE Solution Partner, is pleased to announce a major implementation at UC Health, the University of Cincinnati’s affiliated health system. UC Health has implemented the FacilityONE Facility Information Solution (FIS) at its 900,000 square foot business center properties.

The FacilityONE FIS is a perfect Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) Software solution for large business center properties. Over time records for buildings can become difficult to keep organized and often times cannot be accessed when needed. The FacilityONE FIS allows Clients to pull together their drawings and facility asset information into one centralized, simple to use solution that makes storing and sharing that information extremely simple. The management of properties and their assets, including lease information for tenants, can be much more efficient than in the past.

David Kirk – President, DNK states: “One of the biggest issues for our clients is access to their facility information. This is easily solved with the FacilityONE Solution we provide because it is web based and allows unlimited users for accounts. All a staff member needs is a computer with an internet connection, Internet Explorer and their login information to access the information that is stored in the FIS.” Clients will benefit tremendously from the centralized storage of their drawings and facility data with Facility One.

Dale Cain – CEO, FacilityONE states: “I am excited to see our FIS leveraged by DNK through this successful implementation. The UC Health implementation is a great example of the value our Solution Partner network brings to the marketplace.”

About UC Health

UC Health, the University of Cincinnati’s affiliated health system, includes UC Medical Center, ranked one of the best hospitals in the region by U.S. News & World Report; West Chester Hospital, one of Cincinnati’s newest hospitals and the recipient of the 2012 HealthGrades® Outstanding Patient Experience Award™, ranking it above 90 percent of hospitals nationally for patient satisfaction; Drake Center, Cincinnati’s premier provider of long-term acute care; University of Cincinnati Physicians, Cincinnati’s largest multi-specialty practice group with more than 700 board-certified clinicians and surgeons; Lindner Center of HOPE, the region’s premier mental health center; and several institutes focusing on the areas of cancer, the neurosciences, cardiovascular and diabetes. To learn more, visit UCHealth.com.

About DNK

DNK is one of Cincinnati’s leading boutique design firms specializing in architecture, interiors, planning and landscape architecture. For over 25 years the firm has served clients – public and private, on projects in the healthcare, education and urban design markets. We creatively balance people, economics and the environment to produce transformative, sustainable solutions. For additional information contact:


About FacilityONE

Organize. Access. Transform.

FacilityONE transforms any facility’s fragmented information into one organized, easily accessible solution for intelligent management. FacilityONE provides CMMS, CAFM, and EAM solutions for many industries including Hospitals, Schools & Universities, Manufacturing, and Data Centers, to name a few. The CMMS system offers a flexible preventive and corrective maintenance solution that easily integrates into client’s processes.

Using cloud technology our web based facility management software solution makes information available anywhere and anytime to those who need it. FaciltyONE’s web based CMMS increases communication between requester, management, and the technician further enhancing efficiency and compliance reporting.

The key to the simplicity of the solution is in the SMARTPRINT® interface. The SMARTPRINT interface is a graphical floor-plan representation of the facility that enables point and click facility information gathering and sharing.

For more information regarding FacilityONE or becoming a Solution Partner contact:


Native Plants: Sustainable Strategy or Buzzword?

by Matt Latham, RLA, ASLA, LEED AP

Often times, I will be urged (or in some cases even required) by Clients or Government Agencies to specify only native plants when doing planting designs for a project.  The reasoning goes that native plants are naturally adapted to the local climate and therefore have a higher likelihood of survival while having less of a need for supplemental watering.  While I agree that those are very good reasons to select native plants, my argument back to the Client in this situation is that this kind of restriction is unnecessarily limiting.  You see, there are also many good non-invasive non-native plant selections out there that are also well-adapted to the climate and do not require supplemental watering after establishment.  In addition, many of these selections have greater ornamental value than the native selections.

The task of selecting native plants exclusively can be daunting, given that commercially-available native plant selections are limited (though this is starting to change with the advent of new nurseries that specialize in these products), and that the very definition of “native” is somewhat fuzzy.  For example, how long does a plant have to be established in an area for it to be considered “native?”  Is it 100 years, 500 years, or since the retreat of the glaciers?  My family has lived in Ohio for three generations.  Depending on who you ask I may or may not be considered an Ohio “native.”  Also, in this age of hybrids and cultivars, even a species that started out as native may no longer actually be native after being propagated using modern horticultural methods.

Rather than restricting Landscape Architects to selecting native plants only, I think Clients should ask the Landscape Architect to select plants that are non-invasive, drought-tolerant, and climate-adapted.  That will achieve the sustainability goals of an exclusively native landscape without unnecessarily restricting plant material choices, while avoiding any argument over what constitutes a native plant.  It will also hopefully provide the added benefit of biodiversity, which is something I believe to be essential to the long-term viability of a landscape.

There are, in my opinion, some valid reasons for restricting selections to native plants, in more narrowly-tailored situations.  For example, if you want your landscape to establish a connection with the native landscape of your region, to celebrate the unique character of its flora, or to educate the public, then go for it!  Or, if you just want to challenge your Landscape Architect a little more, and hopefully pay him or her for the privilege, then go for it!  But let’s end the practice of using the “native” buzzword to make ourselves look sustainable, since a landscape does not necessarily have to be native to be sustainable.