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The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge

The Ascent is a dramatic shape against the skyline in Covington. Kentucky Life gets impressive camera shots of the interior and exterior of the building.

There’s an unusual blue-and-white building that catches the attention of travelers crossing the state line between Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge, a curved, asymmetrical structure that houses luxury condominiums, was built in 2006 and has become an icon in the city of Covington.

The Ascent is the design of Polish-born Daniel Libeskind, a world-famous architect with ties to Kentucky; he was an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky from 1973 through 1975.

The building’s unique structure curves both laterally and vertically, mimicking the cables of the nearby Roebling Suspension Bridge and the river it traverses. With 11 stories on the west side and 23 on the east, the outline “ascends into the heavens,” according to Broker/Owner Lee Robinson of Robinson Sotheby’s International Realty.

The structure is made of steel, concrete, and the distinctive glass that gives The Ascent its eye-catching blue color. The roof is made of a single-ply membrane rubber with the same blue hue, giving the building the appearance of having a glass roof.

Such a non-traditional structure is bound to have some unique challenges, and The Ascent is no exception. Engineers had to compensate for the way the sail-shaped building would twist as it caught wind from the southwest with some “very unique structural additions,” according to Thomas Banta, Managing Director of Corporex Realty and Investment. As a result, the building is reinforced to resist forces of nature better than many traditional buildings.

“The way it turned out to be designed, if there were a tornado in this area, this is the building I would be in,” says Banta. “It is extremely well-designed.”

The long, slanted roof could have created a dangerous situation in the winter when daytime sunlight can cause snow and ice to fall to the ground in massive chunks. To reduce the danger, a system of cabling on the roof breaks up accumulation.

The exterior of Libeskind’s building is what makes it so notable, but the attention to design continues with the interior touches. For example, the flooring in the owners’ club area is an end-grain wood manufactured by a single company in Oregon that limits production to just a few projects each year.

The first residents of The Ascent had the opportunity to help select art for the common areas. All the paintings and sculptures were created specifically for the building and are collectively owned by the condo owners.

“In real estate, this building…would be called a signature property,” says Robinson. “It’s a world-class property by a world-class architect that really is very, very special for our region. Many of the people who have moved here do consider that they are living in a work of art.”

This video is part of Kentucky Life episode #2002 which originally aired on October 11, 2014. View the full episode here.