A ndrew Lords
Once upon a time manufacturing was alive and well in America. Exporting was higher than importing. Factories hummed across the landscape. The consensus now is that era has passed, leaving in its wake high unemployment and urban decline. Upon a closer look, this is not entirely true. There is a sector of manufacturing that is still thriving: micro-manufacturing. Micro industries focus on craftsmanship and quality, even luxury. This movement is supported by nationalist sentiments. These goods are marketed with phrases like “Buy American” or “spend where you earn it.” The “Made in America” label reaffirms this country’s identity of making and of high craftsmanship.
Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is deeply connected to America’s industrial history. Early in the 20th century, Over-the-Rhine was a bustling community, full of breweries and light industry, with over 40,000 residents. As industry declined so did Over-the-Rhine, which became run-down, dilapidated, and empty. And while it is true that the neighborhood is not what it used to be, just like American manufacturing, Over-the-Rhine thrives at the micro-scale. Businesses like the Morlien Brewery and landmarks such as the Findlay Market show potential of this neighborhood.
The MADE IN AMERICA Center will be a live-work complex sited in the heart of Over-the-Rhine’s Brewery District. It aims to capitalize on the potential of the neighborhood and American crafted goods. The complex will support American Industry by teaching micro-scale manufacturer’s how digital fabrication can effectively increase their quality, quantity, and craftsmanship. Renovating an abandoned factory building, the complex consists of fifteen live/work units situated over a large shared workspace.