High Street Story

Bass Studio has left its mark on the High Street corridor

The crew at Bass Studio Architects likes to joke that they specialize in High Street projects (High Street – Columbus, Ohio). It may be a bit of fun hyperbole, but it has a basis in the truth.

Bass Studio Architects has worked on no less than 18 projects along a 29-mile stretch of High Street, a major thoroughfare in central Ohio also known as U.S. Rt. 23 and considered the major north-south road in Columbus. The projects stretch from downtown Columbus northward to Lewis Center in adjoining Delaware County. They have ranged in scope from architectural design to interior design to planning.

Owner Tim Bass gets to view his work as he drives down High Street each day to the office. He currently lives near High Street in the Clintonville neighborhood, and his office is located 100 yards from High Street near the corner of King Avenue and High Street and The Ohio State University district. One of his firm’s latest and largest projects, a mixed use residential-retail project called Verve Columbus, sits right across street from the office.

“It’s really cool to have contributed to this landscape I have inhabited for so much of my life,” says Tim, who also grew up and attended schools near High Street. “It is nice to know that the projects we’ve done had some impact on the environment, and a favorable one at that. I feel a great sense of gratitude that we’ve had the chance to do it. There’s been a lot of good luck and divine intervention along the way.”

Having studied and taught architecture at Ohio State University makes the campus area projects especially meaningful. Now in its 31st year of operation, Bass Studio Architects’ first High Street project took place in 1993 with the feasibility study for the renovation of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church bordering the Ohio State campus, near the corner of Woodruff Avenue and High Street.

“That project has always been near and dear to my heart,” says Tim, “particularly because of the challenges we were able to help the community navigate, the extended relationship we developed with the community, and the chance to work on a nationally recognized mid-century modern building designed by former Ohio State University professors.”

BSA’s journey down High Street

Years later, in 2007 and 2009, respectively, Bass Studio Architects returned to the Ohio State district to work on major projects at the corners of Lane Avenue and High Street, and again at Woodruff and High. A Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant occupies the building designed at Lane and High, which features a uniquely designed tower.

“That was really a landmark building because we wanted it to be a gateway from the High Street corridor to (the Ohio State) campus,” Bass says. “That urban condition needed a gateway, which was a guiding design consideration.”

Along the way, throughout the years, Bass Studio added a pharmacy in downtown Columbus, a dental office, and several restaurants to its portfolio of High Street projects. The design of the J. Liu Restaurant and Banquet Facility in 2009 earned an architectural award from the suburban Old Worthington Association, and Katalina’s Café was a well-received addition to the Clintonville community.

And then there were many smaller projects, such as Bass Studio Architects’ work to help restore the historic façade of Old University Theater across from the campus, the building with the legendary Ohio State football great Chic Harley cast in terra cotta on the façade.

“Some of our projects were just small interventions that added to the texture of High Street,” Tim says. “And that’s good, too. You’d never notice some of these projects, they’ve just become a part of the fabric of the street. It’s fine if people don’t notice them, they are productive role players.”

Tim Bass said it was never a goal of his firm to become known as the “High Street architects,” yet there’s no mistaking the mark they’ve left along Columbus’ best-known roadway.

“Our work has ranged from major, more figural projects to just doing our urban duty with smaller ones,” he says. “And we’ve been thankful for every opportunity.”