Home Architecture Cincinnati Ballet’s new center embodies the idea that dance is for everyone

Cincinnati Ballet’s new center embodies the idea that dance is for everyone


Cincinnati Ballet had become a victim of its own success, according to company president and CEO Scott Altman. “We were bursting at the seams in our old building. We had simply outgrown the facility,” Altman told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

In September, Cincinnati Ballet moved into a new home that can accommodate the growing needs of its two dance companies and dance academy: the purpose-built $30.8 million Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance.

Expansive windows allow natural light to fill almost every space in the building, including the offices and the wardrobe department, which had been housed underground in the company’s former home. Some studios look out onto expanses of trees; others offer views of downtown.

Expansive windows allow natural light in. Photo: Brad Feinknopf

At 62,000 square feet, the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance is more than 60% larger than its previous home. The center includes nine dance studios, one of which has a mobility lift system that provides a new level of mobility to students with physical disabilities. The facility also features large dressing rooms, public lounges, break rooms for performers, a 140-seat performance space, and a recording studio.

The new building consists of nine studios. Photo: Brad Feinknopf

Display Case
Display cases show different ballet dresses. Photo: Brad Feinknopf

“This new Ballet Center is a dream,” Altman said.

The owners and the architects, GBBN, wanted the open, accessible design to embody Cincinnati Ballet’s mission to break down the stereotype that ballet is only for a certain group of people—and illustrate the idea that dance is for everyone. For its design, GBBN received an AIA Cincinnati Architecture Honor Award.

Night exterior
Night exterior of Cincinnati Ballet. Photo: Brad Feinknopf

The Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance joins a local arts district that includes other major cultural institutions, including the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

Owner: Cincinnati Ballet

Design architect and architect of record: GBBN

MEP engineer: dbHMS

Structural engineer: Schaefer

General contractor/construction manager: Messer Construction

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