Take a Virtual Tour
Story by Melissa Rake
Photography by R. Greg Hursley
Architects say Grover Center was built like a bomb shelter. Massive amounts of concrete - cast as columns, supportive slabs and a thick foundation - solidified its boxy structure. So several years ago, when designers examined Grover, they knew something amazing had to happen to render its reincarnation.
Call it a brick-and-mortar miracle, but Grover's living its second life. The building opened with new tenants this fall after a two-year, $24.5 million renovation. The 41-year-old facility, originally constructed to house basketball and physical education programs, now is home to the College of Health and Human Services.
Its transformation to a contemporary style is remarkable - even shocking - to many who have played, learned, taught and worked in the building through the years. Besides the concrete foundation, thick steel trusses above what used to be the gymnasium and a few other structural features, hardly any of old Grover remains.
At the heart of new Grover is an expansive atrium with a wide, circular stairway winding to the third of three floors, a veritable feat of geometry in itself. On each floor, the atrium opens up to program entrances that, along with skylights and old-style lampposts, lend a streetscape feel. The brick exterior mimics the Georgian flavor elsewhere on campus.
Additional floor space has boosted Grover to almost 200,000 square feet, providing room for some 50 classroom and lab areas that seat nearly 1,600 students, more than 150 offices, six conference rooms, a public dining area, exercise facilities and more.
The space is a precious boon to the college, whose six schools - Health Sciences; Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences; Human and Consumer Sciences; Nursing; Physical Therapy; and Recreation and Sport Sciences - have been scattered around campus since the college was formed in 1979. Now faculty, staff and students can collaborate across hallways rather than strain to communicate across the greens.
Although all seem thrilled with Grover's new look, no one is quite as excited as Tad Grover. The building was named in honor of his father, Butch Grover, who led the men's basketball team from 1922 to 1938 and later rose to the position of assistant to the University president, retiring in 1963.
Tad, a 1950 graduate and member of the Board of Trustees, is grateful his father's contributions are associated with campus' newest - and, arguably, most attractive - facility. Grover Center has been reincarnated, and so has his father's legacy.
Melissa Rake served until recently as assistant editor of Ohio Today. R. Greg Hursley is a freelance architectural photographer based in Austin, Texas.