Engineering Research Center
University of Cincinnati West Campus 
(accessible from Jefferson at University Avenue)
Cincinnati, OH

Michael Graves & Associates, associated architects KZF 1995

Built as part of the University of Cincinnati's "Signature Architect Program", the Engineering Research Center serves as an entrance point to UC's main campus, and sits at a busy pedestrian intersection within the University. Graves, a University of Cincinnati alumnus, designed the 167,000 square foot building to house laboratories, classrooms and a clean room for the Engineering Department. The building's façade is dominated by four main volumes, the primary one breaking the building¹s symmetry, and is topped with four sculptural smokestacks.

Often referred to by students as "the cash register", due to its curved copper roofs (similar in form and material to Graves' O'Reilly Theater in Pittsburgh), the building has come to be much appreciated by the student body. One aspect in particular in the building's construction that has paid off, is Graves' elegant use of traditional building materials, which have allowed the Engineering Research Center to age gracefully in comparison to its nearby neighbor, the Aronoff Center for Design and Art.


In many ways the Engineering Research Center is exactly what you would expect from Graves: elegant use of traditional materials and forms, an appropriate variation of his signature color scheme, and well-laid out interiors. Within this, however, Graves has created an elegant structure that seems particularly appropriate for its use and location while retaining the wit that he is now known for. An example of this are the round windows on the eastern façade, reminiscent of his salt and pepper shakers which Graves designed for Alessi. Also to be noted are the second floor doorways, which are arched to allude to the barrel-vaulted interiors and hallways.

K. Bellon 2003


How to visit

The Engineering Research Center is located on the western end of the University of Cincinnati's main campus (in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati, just north of downtown), and is easiest to access by parking on Jefferson Avenue (metered street parking is available). The building is very close to Peter Eisenman's Aronoff Center for Design and Art. A map showing the location of these two buildings as well as other buildings of architectural importance can be found at

The nearest highway is I-75, from which visitors should take exit #3 (Hopple Avenue) and head west, up MLK Drive (follow signs for the University of Cincinnati). Follow MLK for about half a mile, you will see the Aronoff Center for Design and Art on your right hand side at the intersection with Clifton. Go about three more blocks and make a right on Jefferson. You will see the Engineering Research Center on your right. 

There are no tours of the building currently available, but many public spaces are open during school hours.

Books and other web sites

Click the book title to view and to order direct from


University of Cincinnati: An Architectural Tour
Paul Bennett, Walter, Jr. Smalling (Photographer), Michael Graves



The official school site is at

The site offers a virtual tour of the school of Engineering (including some spaces not in the Engineering Research Center) at

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