Chiller plants and other important utility buildings are often incredibly plain (read: ugly!) and relegated to back lots, but not this one. Ohio State University's new chiller plant is a far cry from boring and its psychedelic exterior screams whimsy and fun. Designed by Ross Barney Architects, the new plant provides chilled water for the university's medical district and features enough sustainable design to garner it a LEED Silver certification.
The OSU Chiller Plant provides 30,000 tons of chilled water to the university’s medical district. It is sited on the edge of campus in a prominent location that also serves as an important gateway along Cannon Drive. Because of its noticeable location, the university didn’t want it to be an eye sore, so they tasked Ross Barney Architects and Champlin Architecture to create something that was eye-catching and iconic.
The four story building is clad in pre-cast concrete panels with a high sheen polish finish. Unlike many utility buildings, this one features a number of glazings letting passersby get a glimpse of the operations inside. Although there are no moving parts inside, the location of the windows and the interior mechanical systems give a sense of movement and play. The exterior also features a number of dichoric glass fins, which cast colorful shadows on the sides of the building. As the sun moves, the colors dance and change to create a visual representation of the energy that is being created inside.
Sustainable design played an important role in the building’s construction. The $72.5 million energy efficient facility achieved a LEED Silver certification and is capable of providing emergency backup cooling for the medical center. In addition, the exterior of the building was landscaped with prairie grass to create a welcome, public green space.
Images ©Brad Feinknopf