Projects   Project Portfolio – October 2006
----- Advertising -----
----- Advertising -----
Sweets, Search Building Products

University of Cincinnati Campus Recreation Center


Morphosis intertwines programs and forms for a campus Recreation Center at the University of Cincinnati

Photo © Roland Halbe

By Sarah Amelar

With the muscular body of an athletics compound, the slit-eyed head of a dorm, the diaphanous wings of a swarm of lecture halls, and the robust belly of a food court, the University of Cincinnati’s new Campus Recreation Center is a chimera of a building. And if that mix—with juxtapositions as unexpected as a Surrealist’s “exquisite corpse”—were not complex enough, the 350,000-square-foot facility morphs slightly wherever its contrasting “body parts” touch one another or meet such adjacencies as, say, an existing football stadium wedged up against them.

“I’ve always needed contingencies to respond to,” says architect Thom Mayne, who with his firm, Morphosis, designed the center. “Even in my earliest work,” he adds, “I’ve been interested in attacking homogeneity.”

Six years ago, when Morphosis, along with the local firm of KZF Design, took on the commission, the site’s urban character had not fully evolved, and the brief called for just an athletic center, without any classrooms, dormitory, or dining hall. But even then, this project was poised as a key piece in the 15-year campaign to remake the 200-acre campus and turn it from a lackluster commuter domain, overrun with parking lots, into a vibrant, architecturally distinguished, 24/7 student venue. (Today, the school, dating from 1819, has an enrollment of approximately 35,000.)

The threads that wove it all together came from the full realization of landscape architect George Hargreaves’s master plan, and by no small measure, from Morphosis’s interpretation of his larger concept. Not only does the building give the campus a nexus, but like much of the master plan, it provides what both Hargreaves and Mayne dub “connective tissue,” drawing together disparate parts of a domain that developed piecemeal, if not haphazardly.

Spanning a 53-foot grade change, the Morphosis project is a veritable freeway interchange of a building, with five major campus pathways running through it, as well as connectors bridging to other structures. Celebrating, even willfully exaggerating, the eclectic campus’s ad hoc sensibility, this $113 million compound fuses an aluminum-clad dormitory block with a curved classroom wing, veiled in perforated metal, and an almost amorphous athletic facility, beneath a contoured roof Swiss-cheesed with skylights. Mayne encouraged the university to amplify the original program, juxtaposing key components of student life—eating, sleeping, studying, exercising—at the very center of the campus.

Want the full story? Read the entire article in our October 2006 issue.
Subscribe to Architectural Record in print, or get Architectural Record digitally

the People

University of Cincinnati 

Design Architect: Morphosis
2041 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404
T: 310 453 2247
F: 310 829 3270

Executive: KZF Design

Morphosis Project team:
Principal: Thom Mayne

Project Manager: Kim Groves

Project Architect: Kristina Loock

Project Designer: Ben Damron

Project Team: Henriette Bier, Ted Kane, Silvia Kuhle, Eric Nulman, Martin Summers, Brandon Welling

Project Assistants: Jason Anthony, Crister Cantrell, Delphine Clemenson, Simon Demeuse, Manish Dessai, Hanjo Gellink, Lisa Hseih, Dwoyne Keith, Patricia Schneider, Scott Severson, Paxton Sheldahl, John Skillern, Christian Taubert, Chris Warren, Petar Vrcibradic, Eui Sung Yi, Natalia Traverso

KZF Design Project Team:
Principal: Donald L. Cornett

Project Manager: William H. Wilson III

Project Architect: Dale E. Beeler

Project Team: Dan Briggs, Marty Doscher, Chad Edwards, Lita Gibson, Daniel Groene, Michael Hanson, Brady Hartmann, Amy Hauck-Hamilton, Fred Julian, Susan Kalti, Charles Kemp, Bob Schmitz, Michael Smith, Nathan Sunderhaus, Ronald Terranova, Dajuane Thomas, Haresh Vibhakar, William Wright

Interior Designer

Engineer(s) / Consultant(s)

Structural engineer(s):
THP Limited Inc.

Structural system schematic design:
Ove Arup and Partners

Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing Engineer(s):
Heapy Engineering

MEP schematic design:
IBE Consulting Engineers

Landscape architect(s):
Hargreaves Associates

Cost Estimating:
Davis Langdon Adamson / Hanscomb, Inc.

Sports Consultant: Moody Nolan Inc.

Site Utilities:
M-Engineering Inc.

Aquatics Consultant:
Counsilman Hunsaker

Food Services:
Ricca Newmark Design
Construction Manager:
Messer/Jacobs, a joint venture

General Contractor
General Trades Contractor:
Turner Construction Co.

CAD system, project management, or other software used
Bentley Microstation

the Products

Exterior cladding
housing component:
CENTRIA "Formwall" Dimension Series insulated steel composite wall panels

Exterior siding
on steel trusses:

Structural system
Steel Frame:
Southern Ohio Fabricators
2565 Batavia-Williamsburg Pike
Batavia, OH 45103
513 732 6033

Metal/glass curtain wall:
7000 Series:
Waltek And Co.,Ltd.

Precast Concrete:
2x8 Sandblasted Planks
Concrete Technology, Inc.

composite metal panels for trusses

Standing Seam Aluminum


Interior finishes
Suspension grid:
open plenum wire mesh ceiling

Wall coverings
Interior cladding walls:
Carat (cement fiber board)


Interior cladding truss volumes:
Aluminum composite panel

Glass and ceramic wall and floor tile in pool area
Dal Tile

American Olean

Liquid applied resilient athletic flooring:


Office furniture:

stacking chairs food services and administration
TomVac and 03

Pool deck chairs:
Loop Chair
Willy Guhl


Murals in Marché food court
Artist: Rebeca Mendez

Painters: Painted Surfaces— Susanna Dadd and James Griffith

----- Advertising -----