Let's be honest, now is an exciting time to be living in Cincinnati. So much is changing around our city, including the buildings themselves. And Kurt Platte is one of the creative masterminds behind the renaissance as the owner of Platte Architecture + Design, a full-service design firm.
Platte talked with us about the extraordinary work he and his team of millennial "ninjas" do.
Cincinnati Refined: What first got you interested in architecture?
Kurt Platte: I wanted to be a sculptor. A lot of realists were around me, and the starving artist lifestyle didn’t make sense to them. I took a chance on architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim and Le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut, looked like sculpture and I was convinced the two were in line together. Once I started, the beauty and design of those two buildings won me over and I never turned back.
CR: What are some of the main influences driving your designs or vision?
Platte: Architecturally speaking, Richard Meier and Tadao Ando influenced me. Now, I surround myself with extraordinary people who have incredible faith and have great wisdom. Architectural and business greats pale in comparison to these one-on-one relationships I have where people speak truth and encourage me. I’m not a lone wolf. I run in a pack, so I’m always tied into a group of authentic people.
CR: What do you like most about incorporating your designs into the heart of the city’s structures?
Platte: Being part of history. OTR's salvation wasn’t necessarily going to happen in our lifetime. So many buildings were coming down, and being entrusted with the responsibility of building it back up tastefully is a huge responsibility. Being able to drop in a brand-new building that's modern but honors the adjacent historic buildings in the neighborhood... Well that, I get geeked out about.
CR: What do you enjoy most about Cincinnati’s architecture?
Platte: There’s so much! The steeples are beautiful; we got to do a modern interpretation of a steeple with Old St. George. The breezeway gates are unique; you get squeezed into a tunnel and explode into an open courtyard. The diversity of the population; what’s going on in the city is part of that story. The richness and juxtaposition of all the pieces; old and new architecture being side-by-side.
CR: Are there any trends you particularly love?
Platte: A lot of people shy away from steel and metal, but we love it. We try to stay away from trends, since they’re typically short-lived, and try to do timeless instead. It’s hard not to fall into trends (reclaimed wood), but we’re very mindful to avoid them. Timelessness is incredibly important, especially in OTR.
CR: Your portfolio features projects from different realms, in which do you take the most pride?
Platte: Our clients are completely invested in their needs. It’s hard to say some are more important than others, it’s the sense behind them. Honestly, we get just as geeked about anything that we get to work on.
CR: What are some of the challenges you face when working in historic OTR?
Platte: If it came down to just the design and our heart for OTR, it would be super simple. The reality of it is it’s not checkers, it’s chess. It takes great skill in working with the city and all the entities that come with it. The key is embracing, not fighting, it.
CR: What's your vision for the future of Cincinnati design?
Platte: I believe it should have great diversity, not just in use, but in population. I’d like to see some churches down here instead of turning them into breweries. I would like to maintain the diversity that’s happening. I think it’s really beautiful. A lot of people talk about gentrification; the urban poor and middle class have to cross paths and reconcile what that is. Reconciliation is really beautiful down here. It’s a great time to be a Cincinnatian.
Projects where Platte's been involved include:
- Article Menswear (OTR)
- St. George Church for Crossroads (Clifton)
- The Anchor (OTR)
- 3CDC Offices (OTR)
- Mottainai Lofts (OTR)
- Blue Rock Flats (Northside)
For more, check out Platte Architecture + Design's website.