Union Trust Building in Downtown Cincinnati

How Environmental Demolition Group Brought One of Cincinnati’s Most Iconic Buildings Back to Life

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Environmental Demolition Group is proud of our Midwest roots, just south of Cincinnati, Ohio.

We had the honor and privilege to bring one of Cincinnati’s most iconic buildings back to life when we helped Nelson Worldwide restore the downtown Union Trust building to convert it to a modern high-rise hotel for an international brand.

Read on to discover more details about this wonderful project.

Massive Project to Renovate a Downtown Icon

The $50 million project was a massive undertaking but well worth the effort. Marriott’s brand of Renaissance Hotels specializes in modernizing old buildings to bring the vibrancy of their structures and neighborhoods to life. 

It was our job to work with the architect, developer and the brand to make sure we gave them a blank slate to complete renovations while preserving the history of the building where we could.

Cincinnati’s Tallest Building in 1901

The Union Trust Building was dedicated on Jan. 1, 1901, the official first day of the 20th Century. Cincinnati and Ohio both celebrated the completion of the tallest building in the state, a record the Union Trust Building held for five years until the Fourth & Walnut Center was finished.

In 1985, it was renamed the Barlett Building to showcase its new owners. In 2010, this skyscraper housed offices for an engineering firm, an American Airlines reservation center, a jeweler, a pharmacy, and a chain sandwich shop.

Disrepair & Rehabilitation

In June 2010, city officials cited a second failed safety inspection before condemning the structure. The building languished for 2-½ years before investors purchased it for $535,000. 

A few months later, the investment group announced the complete renovation to turn the iconic tower into a modern-day hotel while preserving the historic structures as much as possible.

Complete Strip-Out

Environmental Demolition Group was tasked with a complete strip-out of all 19 floors while keeping all structural members in place. This amounted to several hundred thousand square feet of space, much of which had already been converted to modern use.

All of this needed to be done in about a year.

The new tenants, a hotel chain, wanted modern rooms amid a gorgeous Art Deco exterior. The new tenants wanted the ability to decorate the inside to match and complement the exterior.

After we completed our strip-out, the developer needed to renovate the entirety of the interior. Even better, the new tenants achieved a silver LEED certification for sustainability.

Preserving History

The developer wanted to preserve the historical elements of the building, including the original lobby interior and the beautiful entryway. 

How many hotels can pull off a classic revolving door and the golden-brass elements?

When you see the ballroom, it will take your breath away. Look up at the marble and the balconies. Those columns, railings, and ceilings, reminiscent of classic urban train stations or even vast churches, all incorporate original elements of the building. 

Head to the elevators. You’ll see more history there. Even the front door pays homage to the style of the original builders more than a century ago.

Modern Use

Walk around the inside of the Renaissance. The current tenants pay homage to the history while updating it to modern tastes. Bright lighting enhances meeting areas and the restaurant, while dark wood harkens to the sturdiness of heavy shelves. 

The restaurant also uses lighting and glass to highlight the structural columns. Dark and light, wood and metal, stone and fabric all play with each other to create a classic feel.

Today, the former Union Trust building serves as a major hotel for a worldwide brand with more than 300 rooms and 14,000 square feet of meeting space. It also houses a restaurant and bar as part of downtown Cincinnati’s revitalized urban core just a block away from Fountain Square.

Talk to Environmental Demolition Group for Select Demolition Services

As fellow residents of Greater Cincinnati, this was one of the proudest projects we have completed thus far.

Contact Environmental Demolition Group or call 859-363-4863 to learn more about how we preserve the history of buildings while performing select demolition services.