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Chilled Water Plant - The Ohio State University

Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Chilled Water Plant - The Ohio State University
By Francesco Pagliari -

Placing a technical facility in a consolidated, compact urban fabric. This was the architectural challenge for Ohio University’s new water-chiller plant. Preliminary research led to a programme that can be summed up as a unit comprising multiple, interrelated design features whose highly contemporary aspect in no way jars with the traditional surrounds. The new construction, located at a major entry and pathway into the campus, blends into its context of historical academic buildings in ample grounds. Its compact volume is in keeping with the size of its neighbours, further underlining the existence of a consolidated urban quarter. Its compactness fits easily into the adjacent arts sculpture green area, contextualising the new building even further.

The large-capacity chilled water plant is composed of two superimposed parallelepiped storeys of contrasting texture and outer envelope. The lower, two-storey, glazed rectangular volume has a veiled, diaphanous exterior of translucent fritted glass whose varying reflections as the day proceeds, and lantern effect at night lend it a somewhat dematerialised quality. 

The inside is, to all intents and purposes, a huge double-height space housing six water-cooling pumps and related equipment, and a sort of mezzanine floor with more equipment. A small landing with a rail guard overlooks the machinery room below. 

An upper, prominently cantilevered volume sits atop this diaphanous glass-clad base. It is similarly veiled but with a copper colour perforated aluminium screen that resonates in colour and height with the nearby brick buildings of the campus.


Francesco Pagliari

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