ArtWorks News

Request for Qualifications for Main Library Outdoor Plaza Public Art now being accepted through Sept 28, 2021

Rendering shown from birds-eye view. Courtesy of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library.

The Main Library Outdoor Plaza Public Art Request for Qualifications is an opportunity for professional artists and teams of artists. Artists of all backgrounds are encouraged to participate in the RFQ process. This commission opportunity is a two-phase design process, beginning with a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) that will expand to a Request for Proposals (RFP) at a later date, for selected finalists.

View Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

The deadline to respond is September 28, 2021. 

This opportunity is for public art for the Main Library Outdoor Plaza in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Below is a summary of the RFQ. For the full document, please download this PDF.

Overview & Guidelines

The Library is committed to the community’s well-being and to contributing to the effort of building a bright future for all Cincinnati and Hamilton County residents. As a part of this commitment, the Library will undergo a decade-long process to upgrade its facilities. Thanks to the residents of Hamilton County, the Library will receive approximately $19 million in additional funding for the next ten years beginning in April 2019, for a total of $190 million for much-needed system-wide improvements across its 41 locations. System-wide facilities work has not been undertaken in generations. To ensure that taxpayer funds are used ethically, efficiently, and effectively, the Library worked with experts to create a Facility Master Plan. The development of the Plan engaged over 3,000 community members to listen and learn from the community about what their biggest needs are and how the Library, with its 41 locations, can be re-envisioned to serve not just today’s generation but also generations to come. The implementation of the plan is being called Building the Next Generation Library and seeks to abide by a series of guiding principles which are “customer focused,” “diverse and inclusive,” “industry leading excellence,” “maximizing access,” “sustainability,” and “transparency.”

As part of the planned renovations for the Main Library located at 800 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, a new plaza will be created, making space for monumental public art. This is an exciting opportunity to transform the downtown campus from the curb to the main entrance and engage public residents and visitors in outdoor programming with the Library as a destination in the urban core. As part of the larger renovation plan, an art installation will help create a strong anchoring presence, as a unique and iconic work on the public plaza that invites interaction and delight from audiences of all ages.  Successful art will be welcoming, inclusive, intriguing, engaging to individuals of all abilities, and attractive to diverse and multi-generational audiences, speaking to “Minds of All Kinds.” Applicants might also consider how the installation for this opportunity might be expanded to an adjacent plaza during a later phase of the renovation.

Color and light are critical elements that will simultaneously draw attention to but also soften the built surrounding environment. Artists should consider the history of the architecture and how they can artistically communicate “nodding to the past while looking to the future.” Beyond form, this piece should function by being equally engaging and magical for Library visitors by day and by night, but illumination at nighttime will be of particular importance. In addition to eye-catching elements of color and light, successful artwork should consider how to exist in the plaza space without overly impeding sightlines or obstructing a visitor’s view from one corner of the plaza to the other, taking special consideration of the sightlines to the Library entrance; consider how negative space might contribute to achieving direct sightlines.

The piece itself should be durable and easy to maintain over many years to come, and the material(s) used should be suitable and appropriate for a permanent public art piece. Artwork may not impede surrounding sidewalks and will leave all right-of-ways clear and accessible for pedestrians; specifications around these stipulations will be provided to all selected artists/artist teams as supplemental resources for the proposal phase. Additionally, while the artwork should be engaging and interactive for visitors, it is important to note that the piece should not be climbable.

As an accompanying component to the artist selection and design phase, ArtWorks and partners will conduct up to five community engagement sessions with Cincinnati & Hamilton County residents and Library visitors. The goals of these community engagement sessions are to provide programming that seeks to engage traditionally underrepresented communities, spread awareness about the Library and Plaza renovations, and gain insights from the public on what they feel a successful installation on the plaza would include. The artist/artist team should have experience with and demonstrate a willingness to take community and partner committee feedback into consideration as part of the design development phase.

Ultimately, the artist/artist team selected for the final design and production will be integrated into the Library’s renovation design team. The artist/artist team will work closely with partner designers and architects to ensure all components of the artwork design are considered in concert with the foundational and surrounding plaza elements.


  • Inclusive
  • Equitable
  • Accessible
  • Iconic
  • Intriguing
  • Delight/Fun
  • Whimsy
  • Next Generation
  • Minds of all Kinds
  • Community Roots
  • Interactive/Engaging
  • Welcoming

For the complete RFQ document, download this PDF.

View the RFQ on CaFE

Partnership Overview

Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library along with its design partners ArtWorks, Champlin Architecture, Group 4 Architecture, and MKSK will lead the overall strategic input process for artist selection and will incorporate extensive community input to ensure the final artwork appeals to audiences of all ages and meets the design criteria. This committee will review artist submissions and interview finalists prior to being invited to create a design proposal.

How To Respond

Applications will be accepted through the Call For Entry (CaFÉ) platform/application portal. The deadline to respond is September 28, 2021. 

About ArtWorks

ArtWorks is an award-winning Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that transforms people and places through investments in creativity. The organization collaborates with community organizations and residents, businesses, governments, foundations and nonprofits to build creative works of art that bolster the region’s global reputation as an arts destination. ArtWorks employs professional artists who inspire and mentor diverse teams of youth, ages 14-21, helping them build 21st century career-readiness skills. These teams have completed more than 14,000 public and private art projects in its 25 years, including more than 200 permanent outdoor murals.