Background/Foreground

The aim of the studio will be to explore the dialogue between background and foreground, fabric and object, ensemble and icon, for architecture in the urban and campus setting. The vehicle for this investigation will be the design of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Center at the University of Cincinnati, consisting of a new precinct of classrooms, faculty offices, research space, and a prominent new Auditorium for academic and public use.The question of ensemble building in an urban or campus framework is an imperative. New landscape and architectural interventions have the power to contribute to the legibility of the whole as an identifiable place, but must also maintain an individual character. The studio will attempt to discern between those architectural interventions which support and extend fabric, define open space, and reinforce pathways, and those which have the obligation to propose a singular identity and create destination. Students will be challenged to discover tectonic means which are expressive of this difference, and to fully deploy the elements of overall form, materiality, and assembly toward this goal. Program, Campus, and SiteEstablished in 1819 as Cincinnati College, the university began as a series of relatively independent schools (engineering, conservatory, medical college), and has evolved into an integrated multi-disciplinary urban university. It operates as a twelve month, twelve hour campus, and has moved from a predominantly commuter school to a growing residential community.As the disciplines of the Social and Behavioral Sciences have grown increasingly interconnected, their physical separation in several locations has been a barrier to productive academic inquiry. The new building complex of more than 200,000 GSF will bring the several departments into close proximity to promote collaboration and to share research capabilities. This \'flagship\' facility for the College of Arts and Sciences will also house its Dean\'s Office and associated administrative activities. The centerpiece of the new complex will be an auditorium and forum space for lectures and other public events in the College. The university campus is located on hilly terrain above downtown Cincinnati, with a high ridge defining the eastern entry edge of the campus and a deep ravine running from southwest to northeast. A grade change of 125 feet across the campus is a significant planning factor. Early buildings developed between 1900 and the 1930\'s were created in a relatively consistent way as groups clustered around well-defined open spaces. During the 1940\'s there was a hiatus in building, but in the post-war era the campus population soared. The first building to be built was McMicken Hall in 1950 on the academic ridge, and is still the principal structure of the campus. The majority of buildings at this time were brick three and four-story structures of sturdy but undistinguished design best described as academic classicism. Subsequent buildings of the 1960\'s through the 1980\'s, including a number of concrete high-rise structures, were not grouped but scattered on available sites creating open space remnants. Since 1990, the identifiable need to create more than one million new square feet of academic, research, and social space required a comprehensive vision for a coherent campus, and a balance between new buildings and open space framework. Subsequently, the University of Cincinnati embarked upon an extraordinary program of self-definition, master-planning, and architectural invention for which it has drawn public attention and scrutiny over the past ten years. Elements of an ambitious master plan developed by Hargreaves Associates and a series of new high-profile buildings have already been completed or are in construction. Academic buildings by Michael Graves, Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry and Pei Cobb Freed, were built first. Student Life bui