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Cincinnati Boomerang
Gensler designs a light-filled workplace for British data company dunnhumby.
Courtesy Gensler

British data company dunnhumby says one of its goals is to “make the complex simple.” That’s just what Gensler hoped to do with their design for the new nine-story, $125 million dunnhumbyUSA headquarters in downtown Cincinnati, which is being developed by 3CDC and Cassidy Turley.

Employees won’t have to sacrifice daylight or views of downtown towers when they move in March 2015. A “boomerang” of open space creates light wells reaching down to even the lowest occupied floor.

“We really wanted to think about daylight from at least 270 degrees. These canyons that carve through the building bring light all the way through,” said Todd Heiser, a design director with Gensler.

“The skylight in the project serves multiple purposes,” said Gensler architect Tim Jacobson. “It allows for views of the surrounding buildings (specifically the Carew Tower) while allowing filtered light into the middle of the each floor.”


Floors two through five are currently slated for parking, with more underground, but Heiser said over time office space will take over those three floors. Visitors enter at street level and take an elevator to the top floor, which features outdoor deck space and views of downtown. The ground floor has 30,000 square feet reserved for retail.

The lower floors are organized around a series of shared spaces as opposed to the typical office atrium. Heiser calls them “piazzas stitched together.” Each floor has a piazza dedicated to a different use, including a café and conference space.

“They’re organized architecturally so you go right through the piazza,” said Heiser. That circulation is meant to encourage employees to use the stairs and facilitate chance meetings.


The design team used Grasshopper to optimize views and daylight, resulting in a rhythmic pattern of dark and light gray precast panels on the building’s Fifth Street and Race Street facades. Insets denote the two main entrances for the office building’s different tenants.

At 55,000 square feet, the floor plate is about the length of an entire city block—one which has for more than a decade been the closest surface parking lot to Fountain Square. Jacobson said the building should improve the street experience in the western downtown area and strengthen the connection between the Duke Energy Center and the heart of the city.

Along with a new hotel project in the old Enquirer building one block off Fountain Square and a nearby 30-story luxury apartment tower designed by RTKL Associates, Dunnhumby’s new headquarters is one of several developments sustaining the wave of renewal sweeping parts of Cincinnati. It is scheduled for completion in early 2015.

Chris Bentley