Design for Innovation
 
 

K2U

Interview with Tim Hawk

“So, you want a story about this project, right?” Tim Hawk asked me, suddenly eager to be reminiscing. He moved to Chicago with no intention of coming back to Ohio because it was his plan to fall in love with the city and stay. And he did, but ultimately he decided that home was going to be a place he could raise his children close to family, and Wandel & Schnell, Architects had offered him a job. K2U was influential in his decision to move home, alongside the boom in radio stations. “The idea that Columbus finally had a radio station that was alternative showed that it was a city that was moving forward,” Tim told me while laughing at Nate who popped through the kitchen area making that hand motion a person makes to mock someone who tends to talk a lot, the bird chirping motion. “I can see you in the reflection, Nathan!” It was really hilarious.

K2U was an accessible yet high end restaurant created at a time when that wasn’t really an option in Columbus. It was filled with the chains and the local greasy spoon restaurants with very few higher end options. Those high end restaurants, like Rigsby’s (designed by Wandel & Schnell, featured a few posts back), weren’t as appealing to the younger crowd who didn’t have the means to pay the bill. K2U was the alternative. It was a high end restaurant, but it was affordable and intimate in a way Columbus hadn’t really seen yet. “It felt like Chicago to me,” Tim said. “It was symbolic of why I wanted to come back here because the people wanted something innovative and new.”

Bob Wandel and David Lenox worked with Kent Rigsby to design the building. Tim was describing the level of interest David had in taking the design beyond the surface and forming a full solution to solve the problems of the interiors. K2U had a strong brand. “It was a really great place to grab drinks with friends because of the design,” he described. The building was narrow and typically wouldn’t have been seen as a probable option for a restaurant or a bar, but it was intimate in its narrowness. There was a sculpture in the shape of an abstract fish that came from the ground and penetrated the front window so it could be seen from High Street. The disruption into High Street made it special. “The sad part is that it didn’t sustain itself because it was too early. It would have been perfect in Chicago, but here it didn’t get enough demand. We’re just on a different curve,” Tim explained.

“You know how we have a push to do fully integrated design solutions? It was born from K2U. We’re almost in year 30 of that.”

The focus was mainly fish and early sushi with cocktails. “We’d have friends in from Chicago and we’d always take them to K2U. They’d be like ‘Oh, this city is so amazing and it’s so small.’ And I’d be like ‘We only have one of those; you have 12.’”

1988 Pop Culture Facts

I’m going to shoot through these quickly because the real story of 1988 is at the end of this post. This year Sega Genesis and Photoshop were both created. Rain Man and Live with Regis and Kathie Lee premiered. Matilda hit the shelves, telling young girls who liked to read that they could make their carrots fly across the room. If the events following this blurb hadn’t happened, I would say that this is the most important event of 1988: it was finally realized that cigarettes led to death. Huge, right?