Call Detail
Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library Plaza Installation

Entry Deadline: 9/28/21
Application Closed
Work Sample Requirements
Images | Minimum:Min. 3, Maximum:Max. 5
Total Samples | Minimum:Min. 3, Maximum:Max. 5
Call Type: Public Art
Eligibility: International
State: Ohio
Budget: $215,000


The Library is committed to the community’s well-being and to contributing to the effort of building a bright future for all Cincinnati and Hamilton County residents. As a part of this commitment, the Library will undergo a decade-long process to upgrade its facilities. Thanks to the residents of Hamilton County, the Library will receive approximately $19 million in additional funding for the next ten years beginning in April 2019, for a total of $190 million for much-needed system-wide improvements across its 41 locations. System-wide facilities work has not been undertaken in generations. To ensure that taxpayer funds are used ethically, efficiently, and effectively, the Library worked with experts to create a Facility Master Plan. The development of the Plan engaged over 3,000 community members to listen and learn from the community about what their biggest needs are and how the Library, with its 41 locations, can be re-envisioned to serve not just today’s generation but also generations to come. The implementation of the plan is being called Building the Next Generation Library and seeks to abide by a series of guiding principles which are “customer focused,” “diverse and inclusive,” “industry leading excellence,” “maximizing access,” “sustainability,” and “transparency.” 

As part of the planned renovations for the Main Library located at 800 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, a new plaza will be created, making space for monumental public art. This is an exciting opportunity to transform the downtown campus from the curb to the main entrance and engage public residents and visitors in outdoor programming with the Library as a destination in the urban core. As part of the larger renovation plan, an art installation will help create a strong anchoring presence, as a unique and iconic work on the public plaza that invites interaction and delight from audiences of all ages.  Successful art will be welcoming, inclusive, intriguing, engaging to individuals of all abilities, and attractive to diverse and multi-generational audiences, speaking to “Minds of All Kinds.” Applicants might also consider how the installation for this opportunity might be expanded to an adjacent plaza during a later phase of the renovation.  

Color and light are critical elements that will simultaneously draw attention to but also soften the built surrounding environment. Artists should consider the history of the architecture and how they can artistically communicate “nodding to the past while looking to the future.” Beyond form, this piece should function by being equally engaging and magical for Library visitors by day and by night, but illumination at nighttime will be of particular importance. In addition to eye-catching elements of color and light, successful artwork should consider how to exist in the plaza space without overly impeding sightlines or obstructing a visitor’s view from one corner of the plaza to the other, taking special consideration of the sightlines to the Library entrance; consider how negative space might contribute to achieving direct sightlines. 

The piece itself should be durable and easy to maintain over many years to come, and the material(s) used should be suitable and appropriate for a permanent public art piece. Artwork may not impede surrounding sidewalks and will leave all right-of-ways clear and accessible for pedestrians; specifications around these stipulations will be provided to all selected artists/artist teams as supplemental resources for the proposal phase. Additionally, while the artwork should be engaging and interactive for visitors, it is important to note that the piece should not be climbable. 

As an accompanying component to the artist selection and design phase, ArtWorks and partners will conduct up to five community engagement sessions with Cincinnati & Hamilton County residents and Library visitors. The goals of these community engagement sessions are to provide programming that seeks to engage traditionally underrepresented communities, spread awareness about the Library and Plaza renovations, and gain insights from the public on what they feel a successful installation on the plaza would include. The artist/artist team should have experience with and demonstrate a willingness to take community and partner committee feedback into consideration as part of the design development phase. 

Ultimately, the artist/artist team selected for the final design and production will be integrated into the Library’s renovation design team. The artist/artist team will work closely with partner designers and architects to ensure all components of the artwork design are considered in concert with the foundational and surrounding plaza elements.  


  • Inclusive
  • Equitable
  • Accessible
  • Iconic
  • Intriguing
  • Delight/Fun
  • Whimsy
  • Next Generation
  • Minds of all Kinds
  • Community Roots
  • Interactive/Engaging
  • Welcoming


  • A design fee of $1,500 to be paid to each selected artist (finalist) for proposal development for Phase 2 of the design process (RFP).
  • Budget for the artwork is $215,000 to be paid to the selected artist for successful completion of the artwork including all expenses such as but not limited to design fee, materials, labor, fabrication, shipping, installation costs, etc.


  • 2021
    • Phase 1 (RFQ) launch: August 31, 2021
    • Phase 1 (RFQ) closed: September 28, 2021
    • Partners select three (3) artists to advance for Phase 2 (RFP): November 21, 2021
    • Proposals due from Artists: December 10, 2021
    • Selected Artist integrated into design team/final design work begins: Mid-December 2021
  • 2022
    • Final design, fabrication, and installation plans submitted for approval to design team: February 1, 2021
    • Fabrication and production of artwork: March - December 2022
  • 2023
    • Art shipped and stored: January - March 2023
    • Installation: April - May 2023



Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library along with its design partners Group 4 Architecture, Champlin Architecture, MKSK, and ArtWorks will lead the overall strategic input process for artist selection and will incorporate extensive community input to ensure the final artwork appeals to audiences of all ages and meets the design criteria. This committee will review artist submissions and interview finalists prior to being invited to create a design proposal.

  • Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library: Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library has been cultivating curiosity from the moment it first opened its doors in 1853. Since then, it has evolved into one of the biggest and busiest libraries in the country: supporting minds of all kinds who seek to unlock their full potential. With 41 neighborhood branches, a vast range of programming, and an ever-growing collection of virtual resources, it is proud to be a place where everyone can learn without limits. 
  • ArtWorks: ArtWorks, now in its 25th year, is an award-winning Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that has pioneered public art and economic impact throughout the region with a mission to transform people and places through investments in creativity. ArtWorks co-creates public art with community leaders that build civic pride and beautifies the region, creating jobs for over 300 artists annually, including youth, ages 14-21, earning a living wage. Economic empowerment, mentorship, and upward mobility are critically important for youth and artists who are underemployed and youth come from a majority of underserved households. Since 1996, ArtWorks has employed nearly 4,000 youth and 3,500 creative professionals, and the organization has completed more than 14,000 public and private works of art that include over 200 permanent outdoor murals, as well as public sculpture, and light-based installations as part of BLINK, all contributing to the region’s global reputation as an arts destination. ​ArtWorks is based in the neighborhood Walnut Hills in Historic Peebles Corner with a new storefront and youth gallery and is part of the burgeoning arts district in Cincinnati’s second downtown.
  • Champlin Architecture: Champlin Architecture is an interdisciplinary design practice founded in 1978 from the existing client base of Harry Hake and Partners, a firm with a history dating back to the 1800s.  Champlin operates as one design firm with a shared mission, culture, and values, with office locations in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Since its founding, it has partnered with a diverse list of clients in the following market sectors: Workplace, Civic, Higher Education, Healthcare, and Worship. The team delivers innovative design solutions and it recognizes that architecture is where art and science, creativity, and analysis converge. At Champlin, there is a passion for design in its built environment and a commitment to quality in all of its projects. As strategic thinkers and creative designers, Champlin helps its clients to realize their vision by embracing the process of Think. Create. Realize. It is Champlin’s responsibility to provide excellent service at every touchpoint throughout its process. The Champlin team is agile, resourceful, and tenacious in its pursuit to serve its clients’ needs because excellence comes with a high bar. Its clients’ image and branding, values, and functions are analyzed and creatively translated into a building or space that expresses their brand, reinforces their culture, and optimizes their business strategy. Champlin is a leader in its commitment to the integration of visualization with process. It has become a foundation to Champlin’s clients experience and engagement with its process and ensures a collective vision and experience. It designs for the future. Its industry-focused experts offer solutions and strategies to set you up for success for what’s next. The team brings value in turning obstacles and challenges into opportunities and solutions that can provide inspiring experiences and enhance the places people live, work, play, learn, and grow as individuals. Champlin is proud to be a part of the cities and regions it serves. It is important to Champlin that it shares that pride and finds ways to actively engage with its communities.
  • Group 4 Architecture, Research + Planning, Inc.: Group 4 Architecture, Research + Planning, Inc., is a full-service architecture and planning firm dedicated to creating vibrant public places that cultivate dynamic communities. Since 1974, its inspired and talented team has provided quality services to public clients and the cities, counties, and districts they serve. Its distinctly inclusive design process engages staff, stakeholders, and citizens in shaping the future of their communities. Exceeding clients’ expectations for facilities that reflect and celebrate their vision of community is a key reason behind its project success. Group 4 is proud of the long-term relationships it builds with its communities through excellence in both planning and design. It is a 34-person studio including licensed architects, planners, interior designers, and technical and construction support specialists located in South San Francisco (CA), Lexington (KY), Philadelphia (PA), and Seattle (WA). Group 4 is active in professional organizations such as the Urban Libraries Council, the California Library Association, ALA, PLA, NEXT Library, the American Institute of Architects, and the Environmental Design Research Association.
  • MKSK: MKSK is a collective of Planners, Urban Designers, and Landscape Architects, founded in 1990, who are passionate about the interaction between people and place. It works with communities and clients to reimagine, plan, and design dynamic environments for the betterment of all. It is a practice with a network of eight regional metropolitan studios in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina, and Georgia. MKSK approaches planning and design with a clear understanding that each place is unique and has economic, social, environmental, historical, and cultural influences which should be explored through thoughtful, context-sensitive design. It helps communities and its clients meet the challenges of changing global conditions by addressing resiliency and sustainability. MKSK shapes place to improve lives, and it shares its transformational stories and the power of strong planning and design to inspire itself, its peers, and the world to work together for the common good.

Required information for this application: 

  • Résumé/CV
    • Contact information
    • Website
    • Previous relevant art commissions
    • Design team experience
    • Exhibitions, awards, grants
    • Education
  • References - Please include at least three (3) art and/or design professionals who have detailed knowledge of the artist’s work and working methods, including fulfilling deadlines, working with the community, etc. Include a contact name, organization, address, telephone, and email for each reference
  • Artwork Images
    • Submit a minimum of three (3) and up to five (5) relevant images of completed artworks and/or commissions from the last ten (10) years. Pull these images from your account’s image bank.
    • Accompany the images with high-level information about each chosen piece such as but not limited to: Title, Date, Location, Media/Material, Budget, etc. You will provide this information when uploading the images to your account’s image bank.
  • Letter of Interest - Please include the following information in a 1- 2 page letter of interest:
    • Contact Information (name, address, phone number, and website for artist group and/or all individual artist team members)
    • Description of your interest in working on this project
    • Description of most relevant comparable projects from the last ten years
    • Description of philosophy on public art and/or creative placemaking
    • In reference to the Selection Criteria section, discuss your/your team’s eligibility for this opportunity


  • Professional artists and teams of artists (national & international) who have experience managing, designing, and completing site-specific public art commissions with a budget over $25,000 within the past ten (10) years are eligible; or those who can demonstrate equivalent skills and experience.
  • Artists of all backgrounds are encouraged to participate in the RFQ process.


  • Demonstrates prior experience with:
    • designing large-scale, site-specific, permanent public artwork
    • creating light-based and/or illuminated artwork that is both engaging at day and night times
    • incorporating community and/or committee feedback on design development
    • collaborating with partners, design teams, communities
  • Quality of work samples
  • Artistic aesthetic

Selected finalists will be required to attend an in-person or remote interview with the artist selection committee to further discuss the artist/artist team’s application materials, qualifications, interest, and vision for this opportunity.