A new home for the College of Arts and Sciences has opened at the University of Cincinnati. Designed by Seattle-based LMN in collaboration with local firm KZF Design, the $93.5 million Clifton Court Hall unites a range of academic units within the college from various buildings across campus. The academic hub encompasses the departments of Political Science, Communication, Psychology, Journalism, German Studies, and Romance and Arabic Languages and Literatures.
The new academic building is at the northwest corner of UC's uptown campus; the 1948 Arts & Sciences Hall can be seen to the right. Photo © Tim Griffith
“Every student will spend time here learning, researching, and engaging with the outside community,” comments Susan Lowance, a principal at LMN, which has designed over 150 higher education projects across 53 campuses in the United States.
The focal point of the building's five-story central atrium is a grand staircase with dramatic red “gates” that rises from the first floor to the third. Photos © Tim Griffith
The building is organized around a five-story central atrium. Large north and south facing windows, as well as skylights, infuse it with daylight and provide a visual connection to the surrounding campus. The dynamic space, punctuated by a sculptural red stairway that extends three stories diagonally through the atrium, serves as a gathering spot for college students, faculty, and staff. A series of community and collaboration spaces, and adjacent team rooms are meant to foster academic discourse and social exchange. The 185,000-square-foot building contains over 1,000 classroom seats, housed across a mix of flexible flat-floor classrooms, seminar rooms, and an auditorium. Clifton Court Hall also provides spaces which support non-classroom learning in collaboration, study, specialized lab, and social spaces.
As UC's largest classroom building, Clifton Court Hall contains a variety of learning spaces, including classrooms, labs, and lecture halls (1,2); detail of the glazed facade with terra-cotta panels (3). Photos © Tim Griffith
Situated at the western edge of the campus, the new structure creates an arrival nexus that links the College of Arts and Sciences to the campus core, as well as to the adjacent urban neighborhood of the Heights in uptown Cincinnati.
Built into a sloping site, the building is fused to the rest of the campus though a series of outdoor pathways and serves as a gateway to the surrounding neighborhood. Photos © Tim Griffith
Responding to the specific site conditions of the west gateway, the exterior expression complements the school’s architectural heritage with a terra-cotta-paneled facade that evokes the red brick tones of prominent adjacent buildings, and its massing steps at the lower levels to mediate the sloping topography and engage the heavily used pedestrian pathways and entry points. Says LMN partner Mark Reddington: “The project choreographs a variety of welcoming experiences and takes advantage of the rich program and connections on site to create a center for social engagement on campus.”