top of page

2016 MCHAP

Case Western Reserve University; Tinkham Veale University Center

Perkins & Will

Cleveland, OH, USA

June 2014


Ralph Johnson, Perkins+Will


CBLH Architects / Marc Bittenger (Associate Architect) KS Associates / Mark Skellenger (Civil Engineering) Thornton Tomesetti / Carol Post (Structural Engineering) Affiliated Engineers / Paul Petska (MEP FP Engineering ) Schuler Shook /Jim Baney (Theatre/Lighting Consultants ) Shen Milson Wilke / Randy Tritz (IT/Telecom/Acoustic/Audiovisual/Security Consultants) Birchfield Jacobs Foodsystems / John Birchfield (Food Service Consultants) Construction Cost Systems / Robert Svoboda (Construction Cost Estimating)


Stephen M. Campbell


James Steinkamp


The primary goal of the project was to create a heart to the University providing a unique and iconic facility positioned at a campus crossroads bringing together students, faculty and community for informal and formal interaction and collaboration. From this larger context, the team developed a planning concept that provide entry points on each side to the building, creating an inviting, open, and transparent design (there is not “back of the building”) which specifically relates to the natural student paths across campus and site-specific context given the challenging site and close proximity to existing adjacent buildings. Within the building, open pathways connect the diverse program both physically and visually. The building program consolidates University needs; the northern wing of the facility was designed to enhance student engagement, organizations, and student government. The professional student office and organization workspaces occupy the ground level of the facility allowing for greater collaboration. The second level is home to several student engagement entities including the Mather Women’s Center and the Inamori Center for Ethics, who provide support, education and events for students and the public. Throughout the building, informal group study spaces are dispersed among large and small conference rooms, a 450 seat multi-purpose room and an open informal food service area which balance the more formal program elements.


A new University Center was envisioned to bridge the original Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University campuses, institutions that merged in 1967 and continue to integrate the campus experience. The 2005 Case Western Reserve University masterplan identified the need for a multi-functional campus center. The building needed to minimize its encroachment into the existing amenities while creating a system of pathways and courtyards that connect buildings and exterior spaces. The selected site was in a prime location between campuses, easily accessible from the Case Quad, North Residential Village, South Campus and future West Quad. The site was also adjacent to several existing student activity buildings including Kelvin Smith Library and Thwing Center. Additionally, the site has the distinction of being part of the University Circle District, home of several cultural institutions like the Cleveland Museum of Art and Severance Symphony Hall. The dynamic building mass is a result of a number of existing conditions. The design helps define an existing sculpture garden to the north, enlivens an existing circulation path to the east with a café, and provides a backdrop to a popular outdoor field to the west. This field sits atop an existing underground parking structure that could not accommodate additional load and had to remain operational through construction, thus restricting the site’s buildable area.


The University Center represents a new hub for campus life, providing amenities while maintaining previously established open spaces. The building provides and elegant solution on an optimal site despite physical challenges. Instead of creating spaces that are linked by circulation, spaces are designed for multiple programs dependent on the time of day allowing for sharing of public spaces between uses. The design team facilitated a series of work sessions throughout the design process as a means to elicit aspirational and prescriptive input from students, staff and faculty. Aesthetically the building respects the space, scale and materiality of the adjacent buildings while reflecting clean, elegant design. The building is a showcase of sustainability, tracking LEED Gold standards. Techniques used include site development, water efficiency, sustainable materials, daylighting, natural ventilation, radiant heating and cooling, double glazed façade, green roof, and photovoltaic panels. Importantly, the design incorporates branding through the use of color, graphics, media and sculpture. Key programming elements helped deliver the project on budget by utilizing flexible spaces in place of elements originally programed individually. The University Center design solution maintained the character of the surrounding buildings and became a distinct barrier-free hub of movement through the campus.

bottom of page