Ohio University

Ridges Advisory Committee tours Buildings 13, 14 and 18 ahead of renovation completion

Published: October 28, 2019 Author: Staff reports

Members of the Ridges Advisory Committee toured Buildings 13, 14 and 18 at The Ridges during their meeting Oct. 23.

The structures are under renovation as part of Ohio University’s administrative relocation plan, supporting academic prioritization of core campus facilities. The buildings will house personnel from offices including

  • Legal Affairs
  • Design and Construction
  • Finance
  • Ohio University Police Department
  • Budget office
  • Planning office
  • Real Estate office
  • Conference rooms

The project is part of the ongoing effort to preserve key Ridges buildings and return them to long-term productive use.

New windows are being installed in the buildings, complete with the original, refurbished wrought-iron gratings, which will maintain the original appearance of the buildings, Ohio University Chief Facilities Officer Steve Wood said.

Wood also provided an update on the Ridges Circle roadway project, which is scheduled to be finished in November. Many of the bricks in the roadway have deteriorated, and the project includes rebuilding the west portion of Ridges Circle with a concrete surface, while salvaging intact bricks for use in maintaining the brick surface in front of the historic Kirkbride buildings and elsewhere on The Ridges.

Wood also said a walkway connecting the hilltop near Ridges Building 21 with the sidewalk and pedestrian tunnel under Route 682 is now complete.

Associate Vice President for University Planning Shawna Bolin, co-chair of the Ridges Advisory Committee, said the building renovation work is expected to be complete by March 2020.

“The renovation of a major Kirkbride facility for academic use is a major accomplishment,” Bolin said. “This project fulfills a community goal of maintaining these important buildings while addressing the needs of Ohio University.”

Bolin also highlighted there is more work to do and will rely on community and private partners to continue making progress.

The committee received several other updates. Bolin shared that the University would like to hold an event in the summer of 2020 celebrating the completion of the project and the expanding vision for The Ridges’ future. A national conference of Kirkbride building aficionados may also be held, though details are not yet confirmed.

The committee received an update on the Ridges Conservation Land, a swath of The Ridges northwest of Dairy Lane and south of the Ridges Land Lab identified as in the Ridges Framework Plan as Tier 1 land. Ohio University Vice President for Research and Creative Activity Joseph Shields, also a co-chair of the Ridges Advisory Committee, said the goal was to establish usage rules for the land that allow access to the space while still maintaining its character.

While details are still being refined, the land generally would be available for academic uses such as research and training, and recreation including hiking and walking, with pets allowed if kept on a leash. Permanent structures, camping, wood cutting, removal of plants or animals, bicycles, and motorized vehicles would be excluded under the draft guidelines.

“This space is an important resource, and we want to preserve it while taking advantage of the opportunities it offers to the community,” Shields said.

Another update included an OHIO Museum Complex project which will provide interpretive panels and directional signage for an outdoor museum installed at key points of the existing trails system at The Ridges.

Director of Real Estate Dominick Brook provided an overview of the University’s intention to put forth a request for qualifications (RFP) for a private entity to operate the café housed in Lin Hall to serve employees, visitors and the community. The café intends to provide lunch options and hot drinks in a casual setting.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Deborah Shaffer also outlined a plan to seek a non-binding request for proposals from developers with ideas of how they could renovate Buildings 2, 3 and 4, on the west side of Lin Hall, for future use, likely as housing but with the opportunity for mixed uses.

The Ridges Advisory Committee is a state-established body that includes representatives from the city of Athens, Athens County, Ohio University, and the community. The committee periodically reviews the comprehensive land use plan for The Ridges and the University’s progress toward its implementation.