Knowlton School of Architecture at the Ohio State University

Knowlton School of Architecture at the Ohio State University

In designing the landscape that supports the experience of Knowlton School of Architecture at the Ohio State University, MVVA found ways to increase the presence and power of landscape on a tightly constrained site and as a complement to strikingly contemporary architecture.

The landscape expression along a busy roadway was made more pronounced through a series of narrow tree-lined hills that parallel the building to the north and continued out into the median.

The strategic use of topography, pathway alignment, and planting help improve the pedestrian experience at the base of the building, create a borrowed landscape that is visible from the ground floor, and contribute to a new, powerful entry onto the campus.

The South Garden is a courtyard notched into the building with three architectural edges and one edge that opens up to the south. A planted hillside slopes dramatically away from the building, and an accessible ramp connects the adjacent sidewalk up to the courtyard level and then into the building. Stacked marble slabs and the tree canopy shape the center of the courtyard space, creating comfortable seating for outdoor classes or small events. 

The Sumac Roof Garden is the final stop of an interior ramp that connects the major programmatic elements of the building. A conic structure emerges from its center—the upper part of an oculus that is viewed from below, at the ground level of the building.

Within this fixed frame, the garden is allowed to shift and change in response to the unpredictable growth and spreading of the sumac shrubs, as well as the repositioning of the moveable furniture.