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The Holy Cross Monastery, perched atop Mount Adams in Cincinnati, was built in the 1870s and served the region for over 100 years.

Landscape Architecture by Human Nature, Inc.


Landscape architecture firm Human Nature, Inc., took on the project of redesigning the chapel exterior hardscapes at Holy Cross Monastery in Cincinnati in 2016. Custom hardscape elements from Tectura that were installed in the renovation help integrate the site and the architecture. Thick wall and column caps visually anchor the site features, and custom precast pavers - made to look like limestone and bluestone - reflect the historic material palette while being mindful of budget and long-term maintenance.
Photo Credit: J. Miles Wolf

The Holy Cross Monastery, perched atop Mount Adams in Cincinnati, was built in the 1870s and served the region for over 100 years. In the 1970s a developer purchased the building to serve as their corporate headquarters. Much of the building was updated; however, the chapel and grotto lay dormant for 30 years. The landscape architects did quite a bit of research into the history of the site, seeking to honor the old soul of the historic landmark with a simple and sophisticated material and plant palette, sensitivity to the powerful underlying design principles organizing the site, and attention to proportion, balance, and enduring beauty.


The plaza features a new accessible chapel entry, updated corporate office entry, landmark fountain with pergola backdrop, and intimate gardens that support day-to-day activities as well as special events.
Credit: Rendering by Human Nature

The story of place is expressed through the integration of relevant details, materials, and craft, including custom art elements.

o Thick wall and column caps complement the stone water table, intimating that the plaza grew from the same foundation.

o Precast pavers match the historic limestone and slate.

o Custom metal railings incorporate details from the original 100-year-old fencing and fa?ade adornments (e.g., quatrefoil pattern, lamb's tongue, and decorative scrolls).

o 'Tuscan' artificial stone columns, a redwood pergola, and a fountain.

o A simple plant palette offers shades of greens and whites. Planter urns and planting beds provide colorful customizations.

o Ambient and feature lighting highlights the plaza's main features and creates a subtle theatrical effect.

o Human Nature connected with local mosaic artist Jan Brown Checco, who handcrafted stone tiles at the chapel narthex.

The landscape architects played an important role in revealing the site's story and enhancing the user's experience by seeking to understand the transcendent qualities of the space, timeless materials, and history that influenced the narrative.

Local mosaic artist Jan Brown Checco created several handmade high-fired glazed stoneware tiles recalling the history of Mount Adams. The hill is named after President John Quincy Adams, "who in 1843 delivered the dedication address for what was then known as the world's most powerful observatory (now the site of the Monastery)," according to
Credit: Jan Brown Checco

As seen in LASN magazine, February 2017.

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December 10, 2018, 3:59 am PST

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