Photo courtesy of: Brian Baur/Ohio UniversityThe interior of Ellis Hall includes a student collaborative area and other more open spaces.
The Ohio University College of Arts & Sciences will hold a ribbon-cutting for the newly-renovated Ellis Hall on Friday, Jan. 18. Special guests include Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis, First Lady Ruthie Nellis, Interim Arts and Sciences Dean Joe Shields, and members of the Ohio University Board of Trustees.
The reception will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 18, with remarks and the ribbon cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
Ohio University’s newly-renovated building will be a state-of-the-art facility featuring seminar rooms, a grand entry hall, student and faculty collaboration spaces, and a student publishing space. It will house three departments, English, Philosophy, and Classics and World Religions.
“The liberal arts are an important part of Ohio University’s culture and academic core, and it’s important to provide a modern, well-designed space where students can learn in a highly-engaging way,” President Nellis said. “Ellis Hall remains an iconic building at the heart of our campus, and is now far more sustainable, and more welcoming and accessible to all of our students.”
The original construction on Ellis Hall began in 1902, and additions were included in 1906 and 1908 on the north and south ends of the building. Contractors learned that those additions were made with no insulation included. The renovation project will be submitted for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, in keeping with President Nellis’ goal of enhancing the University’s national position as a leading-edge laboratory for sustainability.
Other key sustainability features include LED lighting, low-flow toilets and sinks, drought-tolerant trees and shrubs, new insulation, and new windows.
Accessibility upgrades were also part of the renovation. The building has a new elevator, as well as improved wheelchair accessibility from the west with a lift to provide a path from a partially-raised entrance to a floor that has elevator access.
The three departments in the building also worked with architects to create a new functional model for the building. This involved rethinking both territory and budget. A central administrative hub easily accessible to students, faculty and visitors alike will replace department offices formerly located on different floors. The merged staff, in addition to saving costs, provides career advancement opportunities with a building administrator now managing the merged staff.
"Within the next month the departments of English, Philosophy, and Classics and World Religions will return to their former home now transformed. The renovated building will again feature offices, classrooms, and meeting spaces, but with modern HVAC and flexible features that encourage collaborative interaction and pedagogical innovation," says Dr. Joseph Shields, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "The investment in Ellis is a physical demonstration of the university’s commitment to the humanities as a foundational part of college-level education, and to scholarship and deep engagement with these disciplines as essential underpinnings to civilization and to finding meaning in our lives."
The building will also include a central lobby, including a stepped bridge across the first floor. A floor slab dividing the ground and first floors was removed as part of the renovation. Classroom and student-oriented spaces are concentrated on the lower two floors, with offices on the upper two floors. A large arched opening was created on the first floor between the corridor and a new student collaborative area on the west side of the building. This cross axis was reinforced using a wood ceiling element that connects the entry lobby to the student collaboration area across the corridor.
The longer sections of corridor were modulated with lowered ceiling barrel vaults that referenced the historic construction techniques using more modern materials. Circulation space was captured for use as conference space and multi-occupant offices on an upper floor where the wide circulation zone wasn’t needed to support classrooms.