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Campus Heritage Network

The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Historic Building Survey and Preservation Master Plan (PDF) 27.5MB

The building stock at Ohio State University incorporates a broad mix of building types in a wide range of styles, from red brick Queen Anne and English Collegiate Gothic, dating back to the late nineteenth century, to Peter Eisenman's Wexner Center, completed in 1989. In spite of the broad diversity, the overall integrity of the campus is ordered by two strong axial elements, the central Oval and the Ohio Stadium. Funding will enable the university to carry out a comprehensive survey of the historic buildings sited around the Oval.

Ohio State University received a Getty grant in 2003 for $200,000 to support campus heritage planning. See Kiaramas Danai, Mont Kiara for more information.

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Report Summary

Purpose: Purpose: Funding will enable the university to carry out a comprehensive survey of the historic buildings sited around its Oval.

Historic Designation: Four buildings are already listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places. The project proposes nominations for 3 more individual buildings and for a campus historic district noting 5 landscape features and 29 contributory buildings.

The building stock at Ohio State University incorporates a broad mix of building types in a wide range of styles. In spite of that broad diversity, the campus has an overall integrity ordered by two strong axial elements, the central Oval and the Ohio Stadium.

The school’s original 327 acres were designated the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College--a public, non-sectarian, land-grant institution that opened in 1873. In 1878, the college was broadened academically and renamed Ohio State University. Landscaping was designed by Herman Haerlin, partner to Adolph Strauch, a devotee of Frederick Law Olmsted’s naturalistic designs. (Much later, the university consulted about campus expansion with John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.) Joseph Sullivant carried out the original landscaping, expanded in the Beaux Arts period and style by university architect Joseph N. Bradford. The list of architectural credits begins with an 1898 building by Yost and Packard, and includes a contemporary structure by Peters, Burns, and Pretzinger. Architects Frank L. Packard as well as Allen & Collens designed other campus features. The university employed its own architect beginning in 1911, first Joseph N. Bradford, followed by Howard Dwight Smith.

Varying architectural and landscape styles identify many University departments on their allotted sections of campus.

Planning Process Used

  • Archival documentation was collected and reviewed
  • Eleven targets for building audits were identified
  • Condition assessments included each building’s envelope and stresses, interior finishes, mechanical systems, and material flaws
  • Character-defining elements were identified by NPS criteria
  • Building data were entered in a tailored maintenance data base

Outcomes: Products

  • Identification of a conservation overlay district
  • List of character-defining features and materials
  • Detailed condition assessments for 9 historic buildings along with the exteriors of 2 more.
  • Articulated suggestion to share recommendations with all relevant university staff via recurring training programs for staff and update of the web site,
  • Searchable maintenance database
  • Visual management system (baseline photographs)
  • Master specifications, with database coding, including contractor specifications
  • Treatment illustrations designed with educational content, e.g., photo of an open joint allowing water infiltration, captioned that repair should use “an appropriate mortar, not synthetic caulk . . . .”; or photo of plaster damage from a roof leak, captioned that roof inspections should “check upper-floor ceilings for signs of moisture.”
  • Power Point presentation, including a database demonstration, synthesizing the report
  • A defect and a survey glossary

Unique Features

  • Conservation overlay district
  • Recommendation to supplement current staff with a “historic preservation planner or architect”
  • Articulated suggestion to share recommendations with all relevant university staff via recurring training programs for staff and update of the web site,
  • Evidence of a searchable database (i.e., coding for treatment guidelines)
  • Treatment illustrations designed with educational content, e.g., photo of an open joint allowing water infiltration, captioned that repair should use “an appropriate mortar, not synthetic caulk . . . .”; or photo of plaster damage from a roof leak, captioned that roof inspections should “check upper-floor ceilings for signs of moisture.”
  • Master specifications, with database coding, including contractor specifications
  • Reference to salvage materials and site cleanup
  • Power Point presentation, including a database demonstration, synthesizing the report

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