Jim Guthrie has worked at Hub + Weber for over 30 years and is excited to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. The company began in 1973 when Bill Hub opened the doors as William Hub Architects in Covington, Kentucky and hired Gene Weber as the first employee. While the company now calls an office on Pete Rose Way home to their 10 employees, they are still a community-centered business who values a fun work culture and offers a variety of services from design to planning to construction.
Hub + Weber is the architecture firm responsible for the adaptive reuse of Hotel Covington in 2012. The Historic Tax Credit project had significant historic features and once housed Coppins Department Store. One of the earliest concrete frames in Kentucky, the building at 638 Madison Ave has a ground floor that slopes 18 inches from front to back. Since they wanted to return the first floor to the city as a mercantile area or community space for restaurants and events, they had to get creative in creating bar seating and window bench seating at varying heights so that visitors wouldn’t be impacted by the slope.
“Historic tax credits played a big part in making this project a success. Plus, it’s so important to preserve our building stock to maintain building diversity and have a more textured pallet.” – Jim Guthrie
Another challenge was the adjacent building. It was torn out to make a courtyard enclosed by a “glass jewel box”, but the facade, once a wedding mall, needed to be saved to preserve the historic streetscape. Extending 10 feet deep, the facade had three bays all constructed with different materials since it was originally built out of leftover supplies. Ready for a creative challenge, staff at Hub + Weber rebuilt the facade to stabilize the interior structure so the streetscape still retains its historical design integrity.
Guthrie notes, “That it’s not just the ornate buildings that need to be saved. Warehouse structures have great potential because they provide contrast between modern and historic buildings. We need to continue to find ways to allow development to happen around the historic structures, so that our city’s fabric continues to include 150 year old buildings alongside 10 year old buildings. This mix creates a tapestry that weaves together the old and the new adding a unique continuity throughout our region. He adds, “Plus the materials used then were better and simply last longer!”
Hub + Weber is passionate about working and playing hard. For nearly 10 years, they hosted a competitive badminton tournament for friends and clients, and they even have a ‘happy wall’ full of photos that inspire positivity. When it comes to their work, they especially value projects that can be appreciated by the community. In particular, communities that don’t have ready access to design.
“We hope to help neighborhoods control their own narrative,” Guthrie explains. “First asking, does this development serve the community beyond its economic growth? Does the community want this as part of their street? Will the community be patrons (not just workers) here and experience this development as an amenity?”
It’s clear that after 50 years and perspectives from both sides of the river, Hub + Weber continue to have an impact on our built environment that inspires us all.