Denison's 'Campus Common' Design Recognized With Ohio AIA Honor Award for Architecture
Posted: November 1, 2004
GRANVILLE -- Denison University's new $60-million "Campus Common" was recognized last month with the state's highest architectural award. In ceremonies in Cleveland, Denison and Graham Gund Architects (Cambridge, Mass.) were recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Ohio Society with its Honor Award for the University's Campus Common design. The "Campus Common" includes the new Burton D. Morgan Center, the Samson Talbot Hall of Biological Science and a landscaped, elliptical, grassy common for campus functions above an underground parking facility for nearly 400 vehicles.
An aerial photo of Denison's new Campus Common looking south, with the Morgan Center at the lower left and Talbot Hall on the right. Slayter Hall is in the center of the image with the Academic Quad pictured along the top.
The AIA Ohio annually examines architectural projects of the previous five years to select only the most outstanding projects for these awards, said Peggy Blankenship, AIA Ohio director.
Denison President Dale T. Knobel and architect Youngmin Jahan accepted the award in ceremonies held October 8th at the Cleveland Public Library as part of an annual awards banquet.
Also representing Denison were Life Trustee Joe Thomas '56 and his wife, Ellen, of Cleveland, and Vice President for Finance and Management Seth Patton. Representing their firms were Holly Miller of Graham Gund and Chuck Stephenson, president of the A.M. Higley Co., Cleveland, which served as construction manager. Others recognized by the AIA for Denison's Campus Common were representatives of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation of Hudson, as well as Denison alumnus Jim Oelschlager '64, and his wife, Vanita, of Akron, who helped make the Talbot Hall part of the project possible.
Last fall (2003), Denison dedicated the Burton D. Morgan Center during Homecoming Weekend. The following spring, Talbot Hall was dedicated in campus ceremonies in April.
Denison received an $8-million grant in 2000 from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation for the construction of the innovative mixed-use building, which University President Knobel describes as being "designed to encourage the productive interaction of students, faculty and alumni."
Graham Gund Architects designed the five-story structure that serves as a dramatic new entry portal for the campus and houses an alumni center and related offices, a faculty common room, and facilities for Denison's Office of Career Services and its off-campus internship program. Internet-wired classrooms, a satellite-connected amphitheater, and meeting areas add to the college's growing inventory of technology-rich teaching and learning spaces.
The Morgan Center is seen as unique among top national liberal arts colleges in its focus on encouraging alumni of this 173-year-old institution to reconnect and engage with today's students and academic programs. In addition, the University's Organizational Studies program and University Resources and Public Affairs offices have been relocated to the Morgan Center. There are numerous classrooms and office spaces for visiting speakers and educators, as well as a new Welsh Hills Room for special events, including receptions and dinners. Useable floor space in the spacious new building measures approximately 41,000 square feet.
The Burton D. Morgan Center
At the western edge of Denison's Campus Common, Talbot Hall now houses the functions formerly located in adjacent Higley Hall, a building completed in 1941 when biology, as both a discipline and an academic department at the College, was much smaller. Talbot Hall is named for Denison's first alumnus-president who served the University after the Civil War and oversaw the introduction of the "natural sciences" into the college's classical liberal arts curriculum.
Samson Talbot Hall of Biological Science
The new building provides greatly expanded facilities that reflect recent advances in the life sciences, especially in molecular biology. Biology is taught differently at Denison today -- lectures take the form of discussions, small group projects and student presentations, using all forms of media. Faculty members are engaged in original investigative research, and students use laboratories to observe live organisms and investigate biological processes through experimentation and statistical analysis. In addition, faculty often involve students as assistants or collaborators in their work, so that they learn how science is done, one-on-one.
At last spring's dedication of Talbot, Gund architect Youngmin Jahan said that the firm's goal was to enhance Denison's pastoral campus with the Campus Common project, adding that Talbot "embodies both science and poetry."
Flexible teaching labs in Talbot Hall make it possible to conduct long-term and short-term experiments, and to foster learning-by-doing. The teaching labs are clustered with faculty research labs to further share resources and equipment efficiently, while classrooms are designed to reflect departmental commitment to small, interactive courses. Lecture and seminar rooms use latest digital media technology, while also fostering peer learning and small-group activities. In addition to social spaces on most floors for students, there is a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled greenhouse on the top floor which is segmented into multiple zones with differing light, temperature and humidity levels.
Denison's Campus Common is part of an overall Campus Master Plan created in 1999 by the Gund firm. That plan is the latest revision of campus planning documents dating back to the early 1900s, when Denison first retained Frederick Law Olmsted & Sons, landscape architects and designers of New York City's Central Park.
The Albert M. Higley Co. of Cleveland served as construction manager for the project. The Higley firm has been involved in the construction of 21 buildings or building additions at Denison since 1949.
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