The new Campus Commons is an outdoor living room. A landscaped trellis system and curving benches provide restful intervals in the circulation path.
Placement of the new 380-car underground parking garage against College Hill created nearly four acres of open space in the heart of campus.
The Burton D. Morgan Building defines a new arrival sequence through campus. Formal and informal outdoor meeting spaces activate the Commons.
The main lobby and circulation core creates many opportunities for interaction and discussion.
Smaller break-out rooms, or incubator rooms, provide students with places to meet and work as groups.
A 200-seat lecture room is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and supports a variety of functions.
The double height dining/meeting room overlooks the Commons and is used for a variety of University functions.
A lantern-like roof form draws light vertically through the public circulation, creating a vibrant main stair.
Burton D. Morgan Hall, Denison University
“The Burton D. Morgan Center is emblematic of that fundamental sense of life’s opportunities, catalyzed by connections among people and ideas. Without a doubt, the building is strikingly beautiful and indisputably functional. But more than that, it ignites that all-too-rare chemistry that is catalyzed when people mix with ideas, imagination, and each other.”
– Dale Knobel, President, Denison University
This picturesque college campus on the ridge of rolling hills of central Ohio was seriously in need of additional academic space. With few obvious building sites in the campus core, the challenge was to accommodate more than 100,000 gross square feet of new facilities in the neighborhood of the Academic Quadrangle with minimum disruption to its community and its academic schedule. The first step in the process was to update and repair the compromises and deficiencies that had accrued since the Olmsted brothers produced their master plan early in the 20th century.
An outdated 1960s science building and a Student Center that had lost much of its luster marked the northern boundary of the campus core. Parking, service access and dumpsters filled the space behind the buildings before the start of the steep slope toward the fields below.
The new Master Plan reinforces the rhythm and integrity of individual quads as the primary orientation of the campus. It also recommends a functional reorganization and expansion of campus circulation to strengthen the internal fabric of campus. The solution suggests the placement of a new 380-car underground parking garage against the north slope of the College Hill, creating nearly four acres of prime real estate at the heart of the campus.
Two new buildings, one at the east end and the other at the west end above the garage, are arranged around a landscaped oval or Campus Common. The siting creates a new forecourt to the existing student center building and a unique outdoor living room for the entire Denison community.
The gateway building, Burton D. Morgan Hall, on the east edge of the Common, provides a new point of entry for campus visitors and houses a variety of academic and administrative functions. Transparency is used as a device to encourage movement through and engagement with the larger campus sequence. A three-story glass lobby, with views to the Chapel and the landscaped green, is a physical manifestation of community and communication among faculty, students and alumni. A bridge that connects to adjacent academic buildings and the pavilion affords direct access to the garage. Both forms are rendered in glass and steel and maximize the sense of transparency between the built elements. A distinct sense of discovery and interaction is celebrated as part of the visitor experience as one moves through the building. Being able to drive under the Burton Morgan building provides a ceremonial gateway to the campus and an added dimension to experiencing its heart. This great room was projected out into the landscape, capturing magnificent views on the three major facades.
The landscaped Campus Common acts as a key pedestrian linkage between the academic and residential parts of campus. The previous arrangement of buildings acted as a terminus to the pedestrian and vehicular traffic through the campus, abruptly interrupting the north/south flow. With a compelling new two-acre open space as an organizing device and a gateway building that encourages interaction, pedestrians are now drawn through to the edge of campus. At the same time, vehicular traffic is directed below this precinct into an underground garage. The new separation of paths for pedestrians and vehicles, together with a significant open space, restores the visual clarity and pastoral tradition of the university. The $60 million project was completed in just three years.
AIA Ohio, Honor Award for Design Excellence