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OSU South Campus Chiller Plant

Ross Barney Architects

OSU South Campus Chiller Plant
By Francesco Pagliari -

At the edge of Ohio State University’s South Campus amidst parking lots and access roads, the new chilled water production plant for the Medical Faculty is striking in its architectural design. The result is an iconic marker signposting the southern entrance to the University.

While meeting tough energy efficiency and production requirements for the water-cooling plant, the programme extends well beyond the standard architecture for an essentially unmanned infrastructure facility, producing a highly distinctive addition to the university campus. The choice of materials and the way they have been put together to form the outer walls take the building to a higher level, creating architecture of excellence.

The elevations of this parallelepiped appear to comprise a series of dynamic segments, giving the impression of a succession of walls whose aspect changes continually as the observer shifts his viewpoint. The underlying feature is constant variation, achieved through light, colour and materials, all of which appear differently during the various hours of the day and under different weather and seasonal conditions. The elevations glint and reflect the light in myriad fleeting ways. Polished concrete panels, some of them tall and narrow, form the basic grid in which are placed narrow windows and larger glazed sections. The medley of different shaped concrete strips and slabs, their different thickness creating recesses or projections, adds to the sense of constant variation. This variegated geometry of refined, polished panels is highlighted to great effect by a palette of colours made to reflect on the elevations like a rainbow that has split into numerous shards of light. 177 dichroic glass fins containing micro-layers of metals or oxides mounted perpendicularly to the walls splinter the light into a fascinating range of hues that change depending on the fritted glass structure and the observer’s vantage point. Cutting-edge...

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