Design for Innovation
 
 

641 NORTH HIGH STREET

Interview with Tim Hawk

641 N. High Street, located on the Victorian Village side of the Short North, was originally a furniture company on the ground level called Ideal Furniture “and it was not ideal,” Tim Hawk punned like he had been waiting for a chance to use that joke. The upper two floors were used as a place for “vagabonds and gypsies” to have a place to sleep for a night. “I’ve been to Pompeii and that area looked like the volcano had been through it,” Tim exclaimed. “It wasn’t maintained. It wasn’t clean. There were still bowls of cereal with spoons in them sitting in the kitchen. They just lived day to day. It was kind of spooky.”

The basement was overpopulated with mice and rats and didn’t have a light, which made Tim grossly afraid to go down the stairs. “It was really gross. I remember walking down feeling like I was going to get eaten alive by rats,” he said as if that exaggeration wasn’t enough to make me understand just how dilapidated the building was. There was an outdoor stairwell that was falling apart and the windows were boarded shut and the neighborhood was equally represented by those qualities. 

“The stroke of genius for this project, in my opinion, was in taking a large space and dividing it into many spaces. To increase the valuable nature of the rental, Bob (Wandel) created the idea that we would put a big hole in the floor near the front of the suite. You’d come in and go across a, sort of, bridge to the retail component and there was a stair that went down so the front of the basement could also be leased for retail space with more natural light.”

Along with an increase of natural light, this hole also allowed for more storage space for residents because the initiative was to get more people back downtown. In the suburbs, there is an abundance of storage and this addition allowed for more of it in the urban setting. The design was more residential as opposed to institutional around the time the Short North Gallery Hop began.

“This development was significant enough that there was a growing, unanticipated momentum that wasn’t yet supported in the area. And more housing.”

1986 Pop Culture Facts

Nobody puts baby in the corner. You know? Dirty Dancing came out this year. And can everyone just show some respect? R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Aretha Franklin because she was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Married with Children aired on the newest network, Fox, giving a new meaning to the concept of love and marriage. “You can’t have one without the other.” The Simpsons is first seen on the TV, mocking society in the most hilarious way. And also… Prozac comes to the US to treat depression. 

I’ll leave you with a little pick-me-up, not unlike Prozac, to get through the warm and dreary day from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, also released this year. “In Ohio seasons are theatrical. Each one enters like a prima donna, convinced its performance is the reason the world has people in it.”