Pomerene Hall, one of the most historic buildings on Ohio State’s campus, has been named one of five finalists for the 30th James B. Recchie Design Award. This prestigious award honors excellent urban design reflected in historic buildings and the “improved quality of life they help offer in Columbus.” The nomination comes just 1 year after Pomerene underwent a $43 million renovation.
The James B. Recchie Design Award is organized by Columbus Landmarks, a group advocating for the preservation of historic architecture, adaptive reuse of old buildings, and new design excellence throughout Greater Columbus. To be considered for the award, 5 criteria must be met: Creativity of Design, Context, Quality of Materials and Craftsmanship, Contribution to the Urban Environment, and Timelessness. Pomerene Hall is among notable company for the award: The National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Columbus Main Library, the Michael B. Coleman Government Center, and the View on Grant.
Throughout its years of development and renovation, Pomerene Hall has transformed into a one-of-a-kind facility that blends historic architecture with modern features.
In the 1920s, fifty years after The Ohio State University’s founding, Pomerene Hall was constructed to provide women with a facility for gathering on campus. Prior to construction, women were typically only permitted to congregate in a study room in University Hall known as the “Gab Room.” When the Ohio Union was built in 1951, Pomerene Hall lost most of its original functions and purpose as a women’s facility, although many of the women’s physical education classes were held there until the late 1970s. What was Pomerene Hall’s gymnasium is now a two-story Ideation Zone for research groups and special events.
Over the years, the building has housed various University programs and offices, including the School of Physical Activity and Educational Services. In 2016, an extensive renovation began to transform Pomerene Hall into a multifaceted, collaborative facility. Nearly $43 million was put towards this renovation, with the specific goal of preserving significant architectural elements and the important history that made Pomerene Hall so unique.
Some of the important historic and architectural elements the architects and Ohio State saved or replicated include reusing and matching the original copper downspouts, maintaining the original outside look by replicating the slate tile roof, replacing the original lead windows with modern versions made to mimic the originals, and refurbishing all of the interior and exterior solid wood doors. The swimming pool – which once served both Ohio State students and the local community – was replaced with a new four-story addition that blends seamlessly with the original building it encapsulates.
This attention to detail has restored Pomerene Hall’s status as a vibrant destination on campus. The building has been the location of many of the University’s senior leadership meetings and retreats, major events such as The Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, and countless research discussions around data privacy and smart campus initiatives. It boasts five large classrooms that serve hundreds of students every day, and is the home of the Translational Data Analytics Institute, the undergraduate data analytics major, Department of History of Art, and the Mirror Lake Eatery.
The winner of the 30th James B. Recchie Design Award will be announced at a reception on October 17th.