Weaving as a Means for Establishing Flow
The Campus Recreation Center at the University of Cincinnati ties together incongruous buildings into a unified expression. Both keystone and connector, the building encourages social exchange and harnesses flows onto the campus green. Appropriating and magnifying specific site conditions, the project taps the potential energy of found material. Its formal genesis is a result of programmatic superimposition and found site conditions–relationships to surrounding buildings, ground formation, and directional flows. The building is grounded in its context yet monumental in stature, a physical phenomenon and a cultural artifact. Negotiating between local specificity and universal idealism, the recreation center is both background and foreground–a fabric building become infrastructure that connects and provokes.
Weaving as a means of establishing flow to resolve the site’s disparate staccato of existing buildings and edges informs the principal strategy for the University of Cincinnati master plan. We were interested in developing a series of connective events to engage peripheral flows on the campus in order to generate or augment an urban density and to encourage, rather than dampen, the polyvalent nature of social experience on campus.
Forms reflect found conditions and contribute to a strategy for cohesively incorporating numerous existing structures with the additional 350,000 square feet of recreational facilities, classrooms, housing, campus store, dining hall, and varsity aquatic center, that are included in this new facility. Conceiving the main circulation corridor as a series of weaving strands, we placed “Main Street,” the primary campus thoroughfare, in such a way as to concentrate and direct the movement of students. The contoured element of the new housing building funnels students onto the campus green, feeding the force-field of movement through a “pinch point.” Secondary pedestrian paths penetrate, intertwine, and wrap buildings, further relaxing a reading of discrete objects on a homogenous field, and substituting a thick mat of cohesive trajectories in its place.
Augmented ground has been an evolving interest in our studio; here a thickened ground mat becomes a means of adding program to site. The new recreational facilities are tucked beneath a curvilinear plane of landscape -- a field of undulating mats, punctured with light openings. The housing bar, lifted on pilotis, overlooks this “roofscape,” which smoothes the transition between the sunken football field and the higher grade of north campus. The scheme resolves many of the site’s awkward idiosyncrasies, and the new cohesive texture embraces the complexities of campus life.