Design for Innovation
 
 

FIRST AVENUE SCHOOL

Interview with Bob Wandel

“Since you’ve done this once, you probably want to do it better the second time. Right?” Bob Wandel asked me when I sat down with him to talk about a few upcoming blog posts. “Right,” I answered. “So, go ahead and tell me things.”

Sandy Wood, one of the influences in developing the Short North, was the client. He bought this school on First Avenue with office buildings in mind and commissioned Wandel & Schnell, Architects to answer the most challenging question they all asked themselves: “How do you economically convert a 19th century wood floor-wall bearing-masonry building from a school to an office building?”

The concept they came up with was a straight-forward solution: each classroom became office suites divided by low partitions to create an openness. One set of stairs became an atrium to allow light to seep in at every floor of the building. “When we were uncovering some teaching tools, like a chalkboard, we discovered artwork that had been there for years,” Bob added. 

“So are we done? Ready to move on? Lose your voice, or what?” Bob asked in immediate succession.

“What did we learn from this project?” I asked.

“Oh you’re back to your questions. That’s fine. We learned to allow the building determine the concept.”

“Okay, and how did we create a successful project for the client?” I asked.

“WE?!” he exclaimed. “We were thinkin’ about you. We knew you were coming.

“Okay, how did you?” I asked, laughing.

“I think we provided the client with an interesting solution: to allow light and openness in a time when natural light was discouraged,” he poetically recited. “How about that! I had a good lunch.”

1982 Pop Culture Facts

The good news in 1982 was that Honda opened up a facility in Marysville, Ohio where they started producing Honda Accords, so this is what I imagine Tim Hawk to be doing at this time:

I imagine that Tim Hawk graduated from New Philadelphia High School and then made his way to Marysville for a new Honda. He sat in it for the first time and thought I need to be jamming to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” because it was released in 1982. So, there he was, flying down the highway, working for another speeding ticket, wiggling to “Thriller” and the thought enters his brain: “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” because he had been hearing good things about it being the highest grossing film. He also thought about “Annie” because it premiered as well and he had a thing for red heads. (He doesn’t find that until later. Kris Hawk shout out!) He decided to make a plan to catch that movie over the weekend with friends after they watch the NCAA Tournament Selection because it was televised for the first time. Meanwhile, after having “Thriller” on repeat, he decided to listen to the news to catch up on Cyanide laced Tylenol killing people. He listened for a minute and then changed it because that was sad.

He got home, sat on the couch, turned on the TV to watch some NBC because sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. Right? Cheers premiered this year, so he watched that and then caught Drew Barrymore hosting SNL at age 7, and some Late Night with David Letterman (also debuting this year) with Bill Murray.

** This is fictional, of course, because this assumes that all of these events happened in the same day and they did not.