Big Ideas

Big Ideas

Community Design Alliance is helping Hamilton redesign its future.


Mike and Cindy Dingeldein have dedicated the last ten years aiding the revitalization of Hamilton by providing community-based architecture, design, and planning solutions with Community Design Alliance (CDA).


Revitalizing local spirit


CDA began operation in October of 2012, with only Mike and Cindy in their office at 236 High Street. Prior to launching CDA, Mike and Cindy worked at SHP, an architectural firm founded in Hamilton in 1901 by Fredrick Mueller. Mike and Cindy served as Principal Partners and Vice Presidents before retiring from SHP after 28 years. 


More than two decades of industry experience, paired with a shared commitment to urban revitalization, brought Mike and Cindy out of retirement to make an impact in their hometown. 


“We decided that continuing the legacy of community-based architecture, design and planning in our hometown of Hamilton would better meet our goals for work and family,” Mike and Cindy said.


Hamilton is home to both CDA headquarters and the Dingeldeins. Mike, an architect, is a native Hamiltonian. Cindy, an interior designer, was introduced to Hamilton when she joined SHP in 1984. 


“The ability to live in our city with a walkable distance between our office and our historic home is priceless,” Mike and Cindy explained. “We love the urban environment with a small-town vibe and the comradery of people who are working together to make our city the very best that it can be. Hamiltonians are visionary and hardworking, and we are proud to be a part of the community.”


In addition to its design work, CDA exhibits its commitment to the community by helping to lift up local organizations each year. CDA is a longtime supporter of Operation Pumpkin, Hamilton Ohio Pride, the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, the Hamilton Boys & Girls Clubs, Inspiration Studios, and many other organizations. 


"We are tightly connected to our community and believe strongly in the saying that 'A rising tide raises all ships,’” Mike and Cindy exclaimed. 


Designing spaces for work and learning


During their first five years in operation, CDA solely focused on projects that supported community revitalization and redeveloped existing buildings for new uses as its downtown neighbors positioned themselves for the future. 


Examples of such projects include the redevelopment of the former Elder-Beerman building into retail and offices, new offices for Kirsch CPA in the former Fifth Third Bank building, the theater addition at the Fitton Center, Municipal Brew Works, Lane Public Library Tech Center, Sara’s House, and numerous projects on Main Street and High Street for small businesses and the Hamilton CORE Fund.  


CDA has also been named the Criteria Architect for the new Hamilton Justice Center, which Mike and Cindy consider to be “A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a space for our police and courts to do their vital work for our community.”


But perhaps CDA's most significant community-based project is Spooky Nook Champion Mill. Mike began the visualizing process for that project in 2012 with a small group of supporters and worked with multiple stakeholders over the years as the design evolved. 


“Sam Beiler and his team have turned that vision into reality with the near completion of the $165M facility,” Mike and Cindy stated. “And CDA is proud to be the Architect of Record for Mill 1.”


Along with community revitalization, CDA is also passionate about designing spaces conducive to learning and education. CDA is actively involved in K-12 education facilities for many school districts in partnership with Schorr Architects. Some of the school districts that CDA is currently working with include South Western City Schools, Worthington, Athens, Bloom Carroll, Berne Union, and Lancaster.


Recently, CDA broke ground on the largest high school project Mike has worked on in his career: Lancaster High School, which is estimated to be 400,000 square feet with a budget of $100 million.


Shaping the future


CDA has served approximately 600 clients since its inception, many of which are repeat customers. The CDA team today is composed of 10 employees, and they frequently hire an architecture or interior design co-op student. 


Mike and Cindy not only appreciate the trust and personal connections they are building with CDA clients, but they also enjoy seeing the impact they have on making Hamilton a better place.


"Our biggest achievement is looking around the city of Hamilton and seeing the visible impact of all of the projects that we have worked on. The change in our cityscape never ceases to thrill us and the vision that we, and so many others had, is becoming reality."


Anyone who is interested in learning more about CDA can visit its website, and stay up-to-date on developments and events promoted on their Facebook page.

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