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Ellis Hall Renovation

Ohio University

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Renovation of Ellis Hall on the historic College Green of Ohio University achieves LEED Gold Status, creating a student-centered building for the College of Arts & Science.

When Ohio University determined the need to prioritize the renovations of the anchor building on their historic College Green, Champlin Architecture worked with the University to program and plan a state-of-the-art rehabilitation of the prominent Ellis Hall. The original masonry bearing wall building was constructed in 1904 with additions to the north and south completed in 1906 and 1908. The building was fully renovated in 1962 at which time toilet rooms and stairs were moved, an elevator was added, and all wood structured floors were replaced with concrete. Limited renovations since then left an aging facility in need of upgrades still needed in order to meet the requirements of modern pedagogies.

The building houses three departments within the College of Arts and Science: English, Classics & World Religions, and Philosophy. In collaboration with our higher education design team, these departments worked together to create a new functional model for the building's central administrative hub within the building easily accessible to students, faculty and visitors alike. This Hub co-located administrative personnel and functions, such as mail, conference rooms, and high-volume copiers, to create more effective administrative tasks throughout all departments.

One of the major reconfigurations of the renovation was the entrance from the east portion of the building. Previously divided between a ground floor entrance and first-floor entrance, it could only be accessed by climbing stairs to an elevated portico that caused confusion about the location of the building’s main lobby. Our design team eliminated the structural floor that divided the entrances and created a lighter, more transparent stepped bridge across the first floor, which allowed light to penetrate to the ground floor. Interior design elements were integrated to visually connect the two floors, effectively creating a double height entrance lobby for the building.

Classroom and student-oriented spaces were concentrated on the lower two floors and, offices were located on the upper two floors. The existing structural system created limitations which needed to be overcome due to available classroom sizes and office layouts. Several creative solutions were utilized to break through these bearing walls to counteract the tunnel like corridors:

• A large arched opening was created on the first floor between the corridor and a new student collaborative area on the west side of the building. This cross axis was reinforced using a wood ceiling element that connects the entry lobby to the student collaboration area across the corridor.
• The longer sections of corridor were modulated with lowered ceiling barrel vaults that referenced the historic construction techniques using more modern materials.
• Circulation space was captured for use as conference space and multi occupant offices on an upper floor where the wide circulation zone wasn’t needed to support classrooms.

Ellis Hall is now the thirteenth building on Ohio University’s campus to be LEED certified and the fourth building to achieve LEED Gold status, surpassing its original goal of LEED Silver. Sustainability and accessibility were key components of this project and, additionally, a method was identified to increase wheelchair accessibility by adding a lift that would provide a path from a partially raised entrance down to a floor that has elevator access.

The location of Ellis Hall on the edge of the uptown Athens business district links building users to numerous city and campus transportation routes, as well as a wide variety of neighborhood amenities, creating a strong connection between Ohio University and the Athens community.

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