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Architecture grads view changes through unique lens

New buildings, modern designs dazzle members of the Class of ’66.

Knowlton School of Architecture

Marble siding, a rooftop garden and other features of the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture building set it apart from others on campus.

Buildings are taller and more spacious. Windows, glass fronts and atria bathe interiors in natural light. Building materials such as marble and terra cotta add classic touches to modern designs. In some cases, new buildings stand where streets once cut through campus.

Those are some of the observations of 26 members of the School of Architecture’s Class of 1966, who returned to the Columbus campus in the fall to find a much different landscape than the one they left 50 years ago. Tatiana Tenson Lukianoff had not been back since graduation. Ohio Stadium was familiar, she says, but not much else, given the many additions and renovations to campus.

Class members observed that a more compact and “taller” campus was matched by the density and scale of private development east of High Street. Classmate Ted Goodman, of F.A. Goodman Architects in Columbus, helped manage the growth of the neighborhood as a member of the University Area Review Board. “The cityscape is improving on High Street,” he says. “All the empty space is being filled in.”

Some class members took a bus tour, hosted by Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture Professor Robert Livesey.

Sentiment held sway when the bus idled next to a grassy area along Annie and John Glenn Avenue, formerly West 17th Avenue: This was the site of Brown Hall, former home of the School of Architecture, which stood on the spot until 2009.

“We all bemoan the loss of Brown Hall,” says John Corkill Jr. of Corkill Cush Reeves Architects in Maryland. “We pulled many all-nighters in the drafting rooms there. It was a badge of honor for professors to hang with us. They would come in with their thermos bottles filled with coffee.”

The School of Architecture now lives in the Knowlton Hall, dedicated in 2004. Its unique contemporary design includes a rooftop garden, 30-foot ceilings, dramatic cantilevers and Georgia marble siding.

“It looks like no other building on campus,” Corkill observes. The building was designed to have a unique identity that departs from the widespread use of red brick, Ohio sandstone and Indiana limestone elsewhere on campus.

The use of marble siding on the building reflected a compromise between the university and donor Austin E. Knowlton ’31, ’95 HON, who wanted a marble building. Knowlton was an architect whose company designed, financed and built more than 350 academic buildings and dozens of major hospitals and post offices. He personally designed more than 600 buildings.

“That’s a little bit of what architects deal with all the time: trying to please everybody involved — owners, donors, engineers and builders,” says Henry Hiner, a Richmond, Virginia, architect. “There are so many elements brought to bear on a building, from technological challenges to traditions.”

The architecture grads referred to many of the buildings by the firms that designed them. For example, they knew CBEC, the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry building that opened in 2015, as the “Pelli building,” a reference to Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.

Hale Hall
Hale Hall
Hale Hall
Hale Hall
Hale Hall
Hale Hall

Thompson Library, which reopened in 2009 after renovations that spanned three years, was one of two buildings requiring a stop for closer inspection. Livesey led the group inside to view the double-height ceiling in one of the library’s reading rooms. It was redone with a nod toward the Knowlton building.

“In the Knowlton building, we wanted to show the university it could have lots of volume in spaces and encourage it to be more diverse. I think the lesson was learned here,” Livesey says of the library.

The architects relished these back stories. “To us,” Hiner says, “the thoughts behind these buildings are the most interesting. He (Livesey) gives us great information.”

Another curiosity demanding a closer look was enCORE, the university’s student-designed and -built house on the edge of Chadwick Lake, north of Lane Avenue along Fred Taylor Drive.

The 900-square-foot home, designed to accommodate a family of three, features flexible living spaces around a core that allows light and ventilation to pass through the building. The architects leisurely walked through the home, pausing to inspect it carefully. “It looks very livable,” class member Tom Casey concludes.

Architecture standouts

Check out the accomplishments of some of the School of Architecture’s Class of ’66.