Having previously designed two widely acclaimed chiller plants the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton, Leers Weinzapfel has become a go-to firm for elegant campus infrastructure. “It is an often forgotten area, but infrastructure has been a focus of our practice from the beginning,” said principal Jane Weinzapfel. “You can make these projects beautiful as well as functional.”
Their latest 23,000-square-foot chiller, at Ohio State University in Columbus, does just that, and it’s also designed to compliment the masonry buildings nearby with a “refined industrial” look, according to Weinzapfel. The ground floor level will be glazed allowing views of the mechanical systems inside. A frit on the glass will filter the daylight coming in, minimizing heat gain, and at night, when lit from within, will give the building a shimmering glow. On the roof, cooling towers are concealed behind a cantilevered perforated metal screen, likely in copper of aluminum, with two levels of transparency. The cantilever also helps limit heat gain in the glazed volume below.
Lighting will give the screen a nighttime shimmering effect. “The building will usually be unoccupied, so lighting will help create a safe atmosphere for students passing by,” Weinzapfel said.