Knowlton Students Envision a New Hale Center

By Kim Kovarik, Ohio State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion

For the students in Professor Kay Bea Jones’ Architecture 4420 Vertical Design Studio, the presentation of their vision for the Frank W. Hale, Jr. Black Cultural Center expansion was the culmination of three month’s work.

To prepare for their presentations, students worked closely with Larry Williamson, director of the Hale Center, Karen Alsbrooks, executive director, Organization Development, and the Hale Hall Expansion Committee, led by Expansion Committee Chair and basketball all-star, Jim Jackson. The student’s expansion ideas were inspired by focus groups made up of Diversity and Inclusion staff members who work closely with students and external partners. Focus groups were walked through a “mind mapping” exercise to help them envision how a newly-renovated and expanded Hale Hall would look and the purposes it would serve. Using information provided in those mind-mapping sessions, architecture students focused on creating interior and exterior building designs that emphasized these needs and ideas while honoring the historical importance of the Hale Black Cultural Center and Hale Hall.

As students readied to present their classwork to Hall Hale staff, Professor Jones framed their work by stating that students were not trying to solve how Hale Hall should be expanded but were looking at the project as a chance to dream, to impose their values, and to take risks.

The eleven students then communicated their visions for a Hale Center expansion, explaining the thought process used to create their projects. The proposals varied in square footage, exterior and interior design. ODI staff and Expansion Committee members who saw the finished renderings and scale models were impressed with the scope of the designs and how they incorporated the ideas and comments generated by the Expansion Committee.

Williamson was especially happy with the results of the class, stating, “I am very pleased about the outcome of Professor Jones’ Architecture class and Hale Hall Expansion project. The students are to be commended. Through the partnership established by Dr. Lee, the class and outcome proved to be astonishing, especially the end results of the booklet, research, models, and presentations. Whatever the final design of the Hale Center, I am certain that the student’s work and findings will help to establish the foundation and basic start for the official expansion project.”

Hale Hall – and the Hale Center – serve as a portal to South Campus, and an expanded Hale Hall will fulfill Dr. Hale’s vision of a space able to serve more students, provide more quality services, offer enhanced art and cultural resources for the campus and the community, and allow for greater collaboration among staff, faculty and administrators, maximizing departmental resources and talent.

“As this ambitious design endeavor proceeds, we look forward to a revitalized historic building on the South Campus Oval, its gallery and art collections, cultural and educational events, and an inclusive Ohio State, distinguished by its diverse and creative Buckeyes,” said Professor Jones.

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