After more than a year of planning, intensive design work and thorough probing and analysis by preservation architects, the real construction work on Union Terminal is underway. The restoration of Union Terminal requires a keen understanding of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and history as modern construction and engineering techniques blend with early 20th century materials and design to save iconic Union Terminal.
What to expect when visiting Union Terminal in January
Construction is now fully underway! Aspects of your general visit will be different as the work continues and we make sure your visit is still fun and safe.
The front entrance drop off zone has been reconfigured due to scaffolding on the exterior of the building. The new drop off and pick up zone is at the bottom of the fountain. This area is not be covered.
The parking lot on the north side of the building will be available for guest parking. There will be new handicapped spots in this lot.
The temporary lobby construction is complete. You will be able to see the Rotunda for a period of time but must stay on the carpeted area in the front of the Rotunda. You will continue to purchase your tickets at our box office in the same location.
Restrooms will be available in the Duke Energy Children’s Museum and outside the entrance of the Special Exhibit Gallery.
Both the escalators and large elevator that lead down to the Duke Energy Children’s Museum and Special Exhibit Gallery will continue to be available for guests.
We will have wheelchairs and strollers available for rent.
There will be food service available on the lower level with limited grab-and-go options.
We will continue to have retail available in the Special Exhibit Gallery that is in conjunction with the content of Vikings: Beyond the Legend There will be no retail available on the main level.
Public safety and first aid will continue to be available on main level. This will continue to serve as our lost and found as well.
- As the windows on the face of Union Terminal continue to be removed for cleaning and repairs, the aluminum frames around them are being cleaned using dry ice. Pellets of dry ice are blasted at the metal but leave no residue because they sublimate (change state from solid to a gas) almost immediately.
- The disassembly of the north drum wall (the wall just below the half dome in the rear of the building) begins this month. The drum wall consists of an exterior brick face with a terracotta tile backup wall and steel frame behind it. This construction methodology has resulted in poor thermal expansion capabilities of the wall, leaving little cushion as brick and steel expand and contract from the region’s fluctuation in temperatures and humidity. This has resulted in movement of the brick and steel away from each other, causing damage to the wall system. This wall protects the interior Rotunda ceiling, one of the most memorable features of the building.
- The fountain and plaza area is critical to the historic fabric of the building and will also undergo much-needed repairs. Surveyors are completing a full documentation of the fountain and plaza area, photographing and measuring the location of every single stone in preparation for its disassembly. In the coming months, the fountain and plaza will be disassembled and rebuilt in a precise manner once the areas below (which forms the roof for portions of the lower level) are waterproofed to prevent future water damage.
- Masons are using hand tools to continue applying mortar to limestone joints across the front of Union Terminal. Using acid digestion analysis on samples of the building’s original mortar, historic preservation architects were able to better understand the mix of sand and limestone that formed its basis. Using that scientific analysis, preservation architects and masons tried several ratios to find the proper match, finally settling on 1 part Portland cement, 1 ½ parts limestone aggregate and 7 parts sand. That mortar is now being applied 1 to 2 inches deep into over 35,000 feet of limestone joints.
- An outdated boiler and two chillers, each over 25 years old, were recently removed from the mechanical room to make room for updated mechanical systems. The mechanical room will be overhauled and the two remaining boilers will be removed in the coming months. New boilers and chillers will be more efficient, increasing overall environmental control inside the building.
Number to know: 1,270 – There are 1,270 windows of the front face of Union Terminal, each of which will be removed and thoroughly cleaned. While the windows are removed, painted plywood will temporarily take their place and the historic metal frames will be repaired.
Experiences and areas closed for the duration of restoration:
The Museum of Natural History and Science
The Cincinnati History Museum
The OMNIMAX® Theater
Cincinnati History Library and Archives
Store to Explore Gift Shop
Collector's Gallery Gift Shops
What has been done so far?
Take a 3D tour of Union Terminal’s interior
As teams finalize plans for the restoration of 83-year-old Union Terminal, they’re getting an assist from new technology. A recently completed laser scan of the building produced a 3D model that will be an essential asset for architects and designers as they begin the restoration. Watch this video for a 3D flythrough of Union Terminal and click on the links below to take an interactive look inside the walls of Union Terminal.
Click the links below for more information.
In the News
Museum Center's OmniMax theater closing Monday (July 4, 2016)
Curate My Community: Cincinnati Museum artifacts to move around during restoration (June 22, 2016)
Museum exhibits on display at libraries during Cincinnati Museum Center renovations (June 22, 2016)
Final 6 large murals moving to Duke Energy Center from CVG (May 12, 2016)
Companies Participating in March 25, 2015 Building Tour