University of Cincinnati CARECrawley Building

The University of Cincinnati is known for creating a showcase of modern architecture on its campus. The expansion of their health sciences complex partially renovates the original 900,000 sf concrete structure, and adds a new 246,000 sf wing, uniting the two buildings to create a distinct architectural identity for the complex. The completed project creates a one-building research and education campus for the medical sciences, as well as a Student Commons for use by the university population.

The concept for the project was to create a more approachable campus precinct for health sciences. The CARE project forms the heart of the precinct, which includes several other science and medical buildings. The addition and forecourt replaces a former parking structure, and unites with the existing building to create a new indoor/outdoor public space at the entry level.

The plan of the new building is fractured in order to create more neighborhood-like research spaces, as well as aligning the complex with the Universitys master plan force fields, thus strengthening its connection back to the Central campus. The building is largely diaphanous, allowing for better visual penetration into the structure.

A full-height atrium acts as a zipper between new and old, resolving differing floor heights and providing vertical connectivity. Multi-story openings were carved into the original 1970s high-rise structure; glass bridges span the atrium like chandeliers, softening the existing medical buildings fortress-like faade and weaving together the two structures.

The atrium envelops the exterior open space to create a large, light-filled urban room that encourages socialization and collegiality among students, staff and faculty throughout the year, shielding building users from Cincinnatis four-season climate. Common amenities such as recreation, conferencing, dining, lecture halls and student support areas are placed within the atrium space or clustered at the entry level, evoking a town center atmosphere.

The program for the entire complex includes classrooms, offices, research and teaching labs, student services, an auditorium, bookstore, library, dining facilities, fitness center, recreational lounge, and support spaces.

This project raises the standards for sustainable design in a laboratory environment; the new building is LEED Gold certified, while the existing building will seek LEED Silver. To meet these goals, the design team incorporated a series of strategies that affect lighting, air-conditioning and ventilation, as well as site design and material selection. Energy-efficient features include pass-through ventilation and a cogenerative heat recovery system for mechanical units. In addition, the nine-story atrium is naturally ventilated, utilizes recycled materials, and features a system that captures rainwater runoff for irrigation.

The project recently received a 2009 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum.


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