UC MagazineUniversity of CincinnatiUC Magazine

UC Magazine

Campus construction

What's next for reshaping campus and the neighborhood?

by Mary Niehaus

On East Campus, West Campus and near campus, the University of Cincinnati is helping to expand learning and living choices. A new campus recreation complex is nearing completion. Medical Center research teams are looking forward to dramatic facility improvements. A historic building is undergoing major renovation. Nearby neighborhood economic development will offer upscale shopping and housing options. And the first off-campus student housing community is taking shape across Clifton Avenue.

UC’s new Calhoun Garage (at top) is literally the base for Phase I of a community-directed housing/retail project. The aerial view shows Phase II plans for upscale condos (center) and an oval park bordered by townhouses. illustrations courtesy of CHCURC

UC’s new Calhoun Garage (at top) is literally the base for Phase I of a community-directed housing/retail project. The aerial view shows Phase II plans for upscale condos (center) and an oval park bordered by townhouses. illustrations courtesy of CHCURC

Stratford Heights student housing

Projected completion date: fall 2005

Stratford’s main entrance, as it will look from McMicken Hall, across Clifton Avenue.

Stratford’s main entrance, as it will look from McMicken Hall, across Clifton Avenue.

Community builds reasons for students to cross the road
It began with the Greeks. When UC fraternity or sorority members share a house and encourage one another's academic and personal development, students are more successful and make lifelong friendships.

That model of supportive group living is about to be adapted by several more UC student organizations. A year from now, at least seven UC fraternities, one sorority and a mix of academic and religious groups will be the first to establish houses in Stratford Heights. Now under construction, the new student community is just a few steps away from UC's main campus.

A computerized rendering shows Tudor-style houses at Stratford Heights, bordered with lots of green space.

A computer rendering shows Tudor-style houses at Stratford Heights, bordered with lots of green space.

Created by the University Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (UHCURC), Stratford Heights will offer 15 buildings on its 10.5 acres. Six duplexes, seven stand-alone houses and one apartment-style building will accommodate more than 700 students. Central air conditioning and housekeeping service for bathrooms, kitchens and common living areas are included.

Stratford's community building will have a convenience store, snack shop, fitness center, recreation room, study lounge and rental banquet facility with an outdoor terrace and grill. Parking will be provided in two structures (484 cars) and surface spaces (100 cars).

Through an agreement with UC Information Technology services, a fiber optic connection will allow the community's residents to access the Internet and UC's Intranet, and students will be integrated into the university's telephone system, as well.

Nearly 18 months before occupancy, 65 percent of the Stratford Heights student community under construction across Clifton Avenue from the University of Cincinnati already had been pre-leased. According to Stratford project coordinator Mary Schap, DAAP '96, the first of 15 buildings is expected to be open in September '04. "Students are welcome to come in, look around, and make their selection from a choice of three color schemes," Schap said.

Fraternities that have committed to houses at Stratford are Delta Tau Delta, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Kappa Tau, Sigma Nu and Triangle. The Kappa Delta sorority has also pre-leased a house.

Nontraditional organizations moving to the community include the Carl Lindner Honors-Plus program, University Honors Scholars (two buildings), College of Law/College of Business MBA students and the American Baptist Campus Ministries. A "Taft House" is being formed for undergrads, graduate research fellows, visiting faculty and lecturers of the Taft Endowment for the Humanities.

Perhaps the most unusual program will be a French/Spanish immersion house, in which the residents of one floor may speak only French, while those on another floor speak only Spanish. It is the first language immersion house to be created at a large university in Ohio, according to Lowanne Jones, chair of UC’s Department of Romance Languages.

A screening room for movies in French and Spanish and a lounge where only international television is viewed are among the house's features. The resident adviser on each floor will be one whose native tongue is French or Spanish.

"The idea," Jones says, "is to bring Europe to campus, especially for those who can’t travel abroad. This is a major step for us."

While Stratford Heights is not a UC project, the university is one of the nonprofit group's three organizational members, holding one seat on the five-member board. The University Heights Community Council and the Greek Affairs Council are the other partners. The university provided a $4.5 million loan to help UHCURC fund planning work and land purchase.

Architects: Cole & Russell Architects, Cincinnati, with Mackey Mitchell Associates, St. Louis
Project cost:
$50 million


More about Stratford Heights student housing from UC

Medical Sciences Building, Center for Academic Research Excellence

Projected completion date: Phase I - late 2007

Construction changes face of East Campus
A dazzling new look -- and some of the most technically advanced laboratory and teaching space in the nation -- will welcome visitors to UC's medical campus by the end of 2008. Comprehensive renovation is already under way inside the Medical Sciences Building, and its west face soon will be linked by a nine-story glass atrium to a new Center for Academic Research Excellence (CARE).

Eden Quadrangle is the name of a new open space designed by Hargreaves Associates to complement the expanded Medical Science Building. It will contain granite seat walls and steps, a water feature, a large plaza, an outdoor amphitheater, open lawn spaces and lots of trees. "This is going to be an incredible project," says Len Thomas of the University Architect's Office. "It will create a transformation to the streetscape along Sabin Way."

Eden Quadrangle is the name of a new open space designed by Hargreaves Associates to complement the expanded Medical Science Building.

MSB's redesign involves updating research labs; improving educational, administrative and library spaces; and constructing the CARE addition: a 239,000-square-foot facility with six floors of state-of-the-art laboratories for use by graduate students, faculty and researchers. The laboratories will be highly flexible to allow easy adaptation to future science and technology uses.

Designers paid careful attention not only to high-tech qualities, but also to "humanistic elements" that nurture innovative thinking, scholarly collaboration and scientific discovery among researchers and students. Informal gathering spaces, such as breakout and study-group rooms, a fitness center, lounges, a bookstore, food-service area and the light-filled atrium are planned to stimulate exchange of ideas. The Health Sciences Library will also undergo a significant upgrade and adopt a new multi-level layout, with open stairways and vertical connections that promote interaction.

"Even as we look forward to its (MSB/CARE) completion, we know that we will rapidly outgrow the capacity it provides," says Medical Center provost Jane Henney. "We are now involved in our next phase of planning -- future place and space needs of the East Campus."

Architects: Studio Architecture of San Francisco with HarleyEllis, Cincinnati. (The design for MSB/CARE won the 2002 American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum, Museum of Architecture and Design.)
Project cost, Phase I: $177 million.

Projected completion date: spring 2006
Digital magic creates a preview of a new clear glass dome on Van Wormer Hall, UC’s first library.

Digital magic creates a preview of a new clear glass dome on Van Wormer Hall, UC’s first library.

Van Wormer Hall

Restoring the glass dome's sparkle
Missing for nearly 75 years, a glass dome will again crown Van Wormer as part of a complete restoration of UC's only 19th-century building. State-of-the-art internal systems and a freshened façade are among other improvements planned for the historic structure in the next 18 months.

When the classical-style library was dedicated in 1899, the gift of Asa and Julia Van Wormer had what the Princeton Architectural Press describes as "a small, inspired dome." By 1930, when the larger Blegen Library opened, Van Wormer was renovated for office use and its topmost feature removed.

"Since this is our oldest building, we want to be very careful about how we put Van Wormer back together, and that includes replacing the glass dome," says university architect Ron Kull. "We are mimicking the shape of the original, but using clear glass in place of frosted."

Van Wormer's new dome will be visible inside the building as well as outside, according to Len Thomas of the UC architect's office. "It will be an obvious presence as people enter," he says. "You'll see it immediately, because there will be no floor or ceiling to block your view, and it will appear totally transparent, almost a skylight."

Van Wormer Hall's original dome was translucent glass and copper.

Van Wormer Hall's original dome was translucent glass and copper.

Another modification inside the venerable building is the conversion of a half-floor to one of full height, so that offices can be added to that level. In addition, a stairway will rise from the main entrance to the fourth floor.

Embellishments planned for Van Wormer include historically compatible handrails, soffits, woodwork, terrazzo-like tile finishes, a turn-of-the-century color palette, new plaster interior wall and installation of hinged-glass transoms above selected doors, to improve lighting and ventilation. A new north entrance to the building will provide convenient access from University Plaza.

Outside on the upper façade where the building's aging sandstone has begun to peel away, the surface will be repaired or replaced. A different treatment is planned for the lower portion.
"From the first floor down -- the 'watercourse' of the building -- we are going to clad it all in Kenoran sage granite," Thomas notes. "It is very beautiful and blends well with the sandstone, which has a greenish cast. The steps and return walls also will be granite."

After restoration, Van Wormer will continue to house offices and will be known as Van Wormer Hall.

Architects: THP Limited and Champlin Haupt Architects, with Beyer, Blinder & Belle of New York, restoration consultant
Project cost: $8.6 million


See Van Wormer before restoration

Read a history of University of Cincinnati Libraries, beginning with Van Wormer

Calhoun Street Garage and Marketplace

Projected completion dates:
Phase I - fall 2005
Phase 2 - fall 2007
UC garage - summer 2005

UC’s new Calhoun Garage is literally the base for Phase I of a community-directed housing/retail project.

UC’s new Calhoun Garage is literally the base for Phase I of a community-directed housing/retail project.

UC-community partnership rebuilds neighborhood
Phase 1
-- Block by block, the neighborhood business district south of UC's main campus is beginning to rise -- aesthetically, economically and literally. Directing the transformation is the nonprofit Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CHCURC), in which the University of Cincinnati holds a board seat.

As a partner in the drive for community improvement, UC is contributing in a number of ways, including a $40 million loan from its endowment, expert opinions from staff such as university architect Ron Kull and a lease to "air rights" above the university's new $40 million, 1,000-car garage between Calhoun Street and Corry Drive. The air rights agreement opened the way for CHCURC to begin construction early this year of Phase I of its Marketplace mixed-use project -- on top of the university’s garage.

Calhoun Garage itself is scheduled for full occupancy next June, with limited use possible before then. More than a harbor for automobiles, it will contain work space for the UC Band, both Air Force and Army ROTC programs and the Division of Facilities Management.

The Marketplace project above the garage will consist of 766-bed student apartments in single, double and triple configurations. At street level along Calhoun, 37,500 square feet of "at-your-service" retail is scheduled to open, with parking either in the adjacent surface lot or the university garage below.

"This retail space will have the things students need on a daily basis, such as a small bank and places like Panera Bread," CHCURC urban planner Matt Bourgeois explains. The names of retailers had not been finalized at "Cincinnati Horizons" deadline.

The redevelopment plan's first phase also includes a quarter-acre park at the corner of Dennis and Calhoun streets. "It will serve as a gateway, visually, from the community to campus," Bourgeois explains. "There is an impressive open vista of the UC campus at that point. Whatever retailer locates there -- a cafe for example -- its customers will spill out into the park."

Phase 2 -- By the beginning of next year, the Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CHCURC) will start construction of Phase II of their Marketplace development across Calhoun Street from the University of Cincinnati campus. A more ambitious project than the first, it will reshape several blocks west of the Shell gas station into high-rise condominiums, townhouses, upscale stores and bistros, plus a single-story marketplace with specialty food shops.

Land acquisition for this phase will increase development costs to more than twice that of Phase I, which was constructed on top of UC's Calhoun Street Garage.

"There will be 220 condominiums in Phase II, very upscale," Bourgeois notes, "situated above ground-level retail shops and our 600-car underground parking garage." The views will be panoramic, all the way across campus in one direction and to the Ohio River in another.

In addition to condos, 18 traditional three-story townhouses will be constructed, surrounding a large oval green space. Parking for those residents will be available on a lower-level deck.
Bourgeois says the 60,000 square feet of retail space in this area will include "nicer clothing shops, sit-down restaurants, a large bookstore" and more local retailers. "We want to keep the mix of national, regional and local businesses as diverse as possible," he adds.

The marketplace structure reflected in the project's name is an 8,000-square-foot building that occupies its own block. "We will have small shops, similar to those seen at Findlay Market -- cheese, breads, wine, a mini-grocery -- things that work together," the planner says. "All around the outside of the building will be tables and chairs for people to sit and enjoy."

And for the future? A new CHCURC project -- the Gateway -- is next on the development list. It aims to transform two blocks at the southeastern edge of campus near Vine and McMillan streets into a "visually engaging" entry to the business district and community. Features could include an upscale performance venue, theater, supportive retail, boutique hotel, housing, office space and underground parking.

Architects: VOA Associates of Chicago
Project cost, Phase I: $60 million
Phase II: $125 million


Current campus map

City of Cincinnati's Clifton Heights/UC Joint Urban Renewal Plan Web site

Visit the Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation Web site

What's next for future campus construction?

It's not a perfect campus yet. Even as the University of Cincinnati celebrates improvements now in place to support learning and increase the quality of campus life, other needs remain: space for expanding programs, renovations, reorganization and new technology to attract and satisfy future students.

As the Campus Master Plan continues to guide the developing face of the university, here are a few items that may appear on future project lists:

College of Applied Science
Because of fast-growing technical programs, CAS is expected to double in size. That amount of expansion -- 300,000 square feet -- can't fit on its Victory Parkway campus.

College of Business
Recent creation of a master plan for COB reveals the need for an additional 103,000 to 215,000 square feet for predicted undergrad and graduate program growth.

McMicken College of Arts and Sciences
The largest college at UC, its programs are scattered among several buildings on West Campus. A&S needs to literally pull itself together, to be recognized as one college.

Raymond Walters College
RWC's popular veterinary technology program is housed in the UC Medical Center on East Campus. That's quite a few miles from the college's Blue Ash site.

Medical Center
"The College of Pharmacy needs and deserves state-of-the-art facilities. With increasing enrollment, the College of Allied Health Sciences will need expanded accommodations. And, yes, someday in our future, the College of Nursing will move from our perimeter to the central academic corridor of the Medical Center."
— Provost Jane Henney, "State of the Medical Center, 2004"