East Regional Chilled Water Plant, OSU

Columbus Building, East Regional Chilled Water Plant Ohio State University, OSU Design

East Regional Chilled Water Plant

Building at The Ohio State University, Columbus – design by Leers Weinzapfel Associates, USA

8 Jul 2015

East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University

Design: Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Location: Columbus, OH 43210, United States

Leers Weinzapfel Associates East Regional Chilled Water Plant Completed at the Ohio State University

Infrastructure Experts, the Firm Crafts a Sculptural Solution for a Mature Campus

OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant

Leers Weinzapfel Associates announces the completion of its East Regional Chilled Water Plant at the Ohio State University. The firm’s third university chiller plant, this $38M, 33,000 square-foot project joins previous award-winning structures at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania. GBBN was associated architect for the building.

OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant

Located on a prominent site between the campus and the city, the new 12,000-to-15,000 ton (the latter with N+1 redundancy) chiller water capacity plant introduces a large, critically important facility to a mature campus, preserves an important green space at the east edge of campus, and frames the gateway for a new campus entry. Its perforated, copper-colored aluminum enclosure serves as a new interpretation of the brick used prolifically on this and many US college campuses, adding aesthetic variety to its built surroundings. The result is an elegant approach that fits well with the building’s urban site and the surrounding context of older brick buildings.


The gemlike structure’s sizable scale, comprising approximately 23,000 square feet of interior space and 10,000 square feet of screened rooftop cooling tower enclosure, is designed to support a densely packed equipment layout of up to six chillers and cooling towers (it currently contains five). The building’s dimensions also respond to those around it, modulated by two offset volumes that each respond to unique engineering requirements and create zones of machine activity.


A linear zone is created within the lower, two-story, glazed rectangular volume with a mezzanine. Veiled and diaphanous on the exterior, it provides semi-transparent views from the interior looking out. The upper screened level, a lifted square volume open to the sky, uses perforated metal walls of resin-based, coated aluminum to provide a cost-effective water cooling tower enclosure. The walls are designed with two perforated densities, and, along with narrow open slots, achieve the combined 35 percent open area for ventilation required for the equipment. To minimize the building mass, a full basement contains pumping equipment. The new chilled water plant will significantly improve overall campus central plant efficiency.


Both volumes of the plant are gently illuminated at night to provide site lighting for the surrounding pedestrian zones and to continue the dialogue between the building’s forms and their contrasting materials. The glowing crystalline lower volume is lit from the inside, while the glittering metallic volume above is illuminated with a halo of projecting lights at its upper edge.


“We believe that performance and beauty can co-exist in campus infrastructure,” says Principal-in-Charge Jane Weinzapfel. “A building that serves utilitarian functions can not only meet rigorous functional requirements but can also, through artistic yet synergistic design, contribute to the architectural context of its environment. OSU’s East Regional Chilled Water Plan is our firm’s latest example of this approach.”

Photography: Brad Feinknopf

17 Aug 2012

East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University

East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University, USA

Construction Underway, Receives Award Recognition

Iconic Infrastructure Design Integrates Landmark Form with Function

The Ohio State University, Columbus

Boston, MA – August, 2012 – Leers Weinzapfel Associates has announced that construction has begun on its new East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University (OSU), in Columbus, Ohio. The iconic structure will introduce a large, critically needed infrastructure facility to campus while maintaining an important green space at its edge, contributing a gateway to a new campus entry. Shortlisted for both a 2012 American Architecture Award (The Chicago Athenaeum) and a 2012 World Architecture Festival Award (Future Projects, Infrastructure), the design will be on exhibit at the WAF from October 3-5, 2012, at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, where the award winners will be announced.

Model showing lifted square perforated resin coated aluminum screen wall volume:
OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University Building Columbus
image from Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Modeling showing the two offset volumes – a lower two story glazed rectangular volume housing six chillers, and a lifted square perforated resin coated aluminum screen wall volume providing a cooling tower enclosure:
OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University Building Columbus
image from Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Perspective dusk rendering:
OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University Building Columbus
image from Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Providing an entry to campus at 18th Avenue that is adjacent to urban context, the firm believes its new plant has a certain responsibility to stand out as a landmark. The gemlike structure’s scale, which responds to the older buildings around it, is modulated by its composition of two offset volumes—a lower, two-story, glazed rectangular volume housing six chillers, and a lifted, square, perforated wall volume of resin-based coated aluminum that provides a cost-effective cooling tower enclosure. Copper-colored, the aluminum enclosure serves as a new interpretation of the brick used prolifically on this and other college campuses, adding aesthetic variety to its built surroundings.

“A sculptural solution for the chiller plant is integrated into the arts sculpture green along the university’s east campus edge,” says Leers Weinzapfel Principal Jane Weinzapfel. “The result is an elegant approach that fits well with the site and its surrounding context.”

East elevation in context within North High Street:
OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University Building Columbus
image from Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Section showing equipment:
OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University Building Columbus
image from Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Campus site model:
OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University Building Columbus
image from Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Recognized for its infrastructure design expertise, the OSU chiller plant contributes to Leers Weinzapfel Associates’ growing body of work in this typology. The University of Pennsylvania Gateway Complex (2000), which received a 2001 American Institute of Architects Honor Award, and the Princeton University Chilled Water Plant (2005), which received a 2006 Boston Society of Architects Honor Award, are two of its predecessors. Read more about these projects on ArchNewsNow.com: “The Big Chill: Leers Weinzapfel Associates’ Chiller Plants Reinvent the Art of Infrastructure Work.”

OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant – Building Information

Design: Leers Weinzapfel Associates
Completion: 2014
Construction Cost: approximately $32M (including equipment)
Architect of Record: GBBN architects, Cincinnati, OH

East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University images / information from Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Leers Weinzapfel Associates


To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.



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East Regional Chilled Water Plant at The Ohio State University – page

Website: Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Website: United States

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