Our addition to the Ohio State Wilce Student Health Center adds to, and substantially alters, an existing monolithic 1960’s Brutalist building at the core of OSU’s campus. The project presents a 21st Century “Model of Care” facility creating new clinical spaces, incorporating new technologies, optimizing patient services, and accommodating an ever-growing student population on a 24/7 basis.
The existing building was designed by the Columbus based architectural firm, Freshwater and Harrison and sited on an extension of the University’s legendary Central Oval, called the West Mall.
The existing building’s hermetic and closed precast envelope does little to serve and welcome its constituents. New University Health Services and Facility Staff required the renovation of the existing building and the relocation of the building’s entrance to address the University’s newly created West Mall.
In a conscious design response to the existing elegantly proportioned and classically derived precast concrete panel-clad building, the architects proposed a full-floor glass storefront coupled with striated precast concrete panels, digitally derived, and manufactured off-site.
Architectural “triage” was exercised in the relocation of the building’s entrance. Since there was no “attic stock” of the historic precast panels available to close the opening made by its relocation, the architects developed a new transparent full-height glass skin at the site of the former entrance. The same components—glass and precast concrete panels—were used in the addition, whose west-facing upper floor terrace offers a “wellness” garden accessed from the patient waiting area.
The new addition serves as the buildings’ new entrance, its open stair and two floors serve patient registration, reception, patient intake/exam spaces, expanded pharmacy, patient interview, clinical backup and laboratory facilities.
The addition’s new striated pre-cast concrete panels recall in a material sense the Breuer inspired precast window panels, offering an ever-changing pattern of shade and shadow during the day. The ground floor’s transparent façade provides a visual connection from Mall to registration and waiting rooms, partially obscured by an intentional glass frit in the interest of patient privacy.
The new precast walls were first digitally developed in the architect’s offices and once modelled, were modified by hand in the interest of limiting the family of panels to four. The then modified panels were digitized and CNC milled molds created to shape the final panels.
The second-floor terrace zinc Flatlok ⓒ clad torqued parapet shades the waiting room store front and recalls, at the building entrance, the sloping profile of a pedestrian bridge once proposed to link building terrace to University grounds.
The addition brings design process and material evolution in the interest of a complimentary sequel to the original structure.
The Ohio State University
Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects LLP
Henry Smith-Miller, Laurie Hawkinson
Across the United States and abroad, Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects has
designed and built a variety of public and private projects including museums, not-for-profit
cultural facilities, parks, transportation terminals, government facilities, and performing arts
centers. We view each project as an opportunity for design excellence through which we
refine our understanding of practice with each unique set of constraints and conditions.
Projects include US Land Ports of Entry at Champlain and Massena, NY, the Visitor’s Center
and Master Plan for the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY, and The Dillon – an 83-unit
residential building in Midtown Manhattan.
The firm has received numerous awards including the American Academy of Arts and Letters
Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture, the NYC AIA Chapter Medal of Honor, the
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and a Special Recognition for Excellence
in Design from the New York City.