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Ohio University

Baker University Center

Project Description

Ohio University, founded in 1804 in Athens, Ohio, has consistently maintained its Federal and Georgian styles of architecture since the beginning, thus dictating the basic style for this building. The building’s planning is primarily influenced by the site, which traverses a forty-five-foot bluff that runs through the center of campus creating an “upper” and “lower” campus. Siting the building directly on the bluff allowed the building to serve as the vertical connection between the two levels of the campus assuring a steady stream of students passing through the facility.

Project Stats


Athens, Ohio

Square Footage


Date of Completion


Project Gallery

The Process

Moody Nolan teamed with WTW Architects on the design of this 180,000 sq. ft. student center. The site challenge included accommodating a dry river bed that is still subject to flooding. To overcome these challenges the building was placed over a single level of parking that can flood, and a central atrium was created with three flights of escalators paralleling the grade change. At the upper level, centered on the terminus of the main street of town, an iconic rotunda was placed at the entry. This gave the building a mass suitable for such a major building despite the fact that only two stories are visible above the bluff. From the lower campus the opposite occurs, with the five-story mass being broken down to a more human scale with a succession of terraces and building offsets.

The interior of the building is multi-use. A food court, game room, restaurant and computer lab are at the lower level, and a theater, art gallery, post office, campus store and coffee shop are found on the upper floors. As an activity center and portal between destinations, the Baker Center has become the front door to campus.