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UC's Unique Architecture Draws a Global Following

UC’s celebrated collection of architecture is drawing international groups to campus – groups of architectural and design leaders that are deliberately choosing to meet at UC because of the building masterpieces to be found here.

Date: 3/26/2008 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Lisa Ventre

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For five days beginning April 23, about 400 international architectural historians will be meeting in Cincinnati and on the University of Cincinnati campus as part of the annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH).

Steger Student Life Center
UC's Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center designed by Buzz Yudell was named one of the world's best 11 buildings by the American Institute of Architects in 2006.

Members of this prestigious group of scholars, researchers and practitioners representing the disciplines of architecture and architectural history, art history and historic preservation lobbied to hold their 2008 conference in Cincinnati, according to Pauline Saliga, SAH executive director.

“One site kept coming up time and time and time again. The members wanted to come to the University of Cincinnati because their role is to study and chronicle the world’s most important and influential architecture, and UC’s architecture is quite definitely history in the making,” stated Saliga.

Even her group’s conference program proves that point. Its front cover and almost every interior page is filled with views of the UC campus, views and buildings that will draw SAH members here from as far away as Asia and the Middle East to study, up close, the university’s unmatched collection of modernist architecture by the leading practitioners of the century. Architects represented on UC's campus include Henry Cobb, Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, George Hargreaves, Thom Mayne, Bernard Tschumi, Buzz Yudell and others.

Said Saliga, “There are few, if any, places on earth that can boast such an impressive concentration of first-rate buildings by such a diverse group of leading architects. You don’t find this on the ordinary university campus.”

Indeed, this world-class collection is considered so historically significant that UC is one of the few campuses to receive a prestigious grant from the Getty Foundation to plan for the preservation of the campus’ modernist sites and structures.

The Society of Architectural Historians is not the first or only professional group connected to the world of design to elect UC as the best possible setting for a national or international meeting. Last summer, the Association of University Architects met on UC’s campus, bringing hundreds of the nation’s college and university architects to the region. 

In addition, on April 22, the Board of Trustees of the Design Futures Council – a national industry group representing architects, interior designers, industrial designers, engineers and related professions – will hold its next regular session on UC’s campus.

Board member Gerry Hammond, president and CEO of Steed | Hammond | Paul, a regional architecture, design and engineering firm, lobbied for UC as the site of this session. In this instance, however, it wasn’t quite so much the case of UC’s campus architecture per se that appealed to this group so much as the multidisciplinary approach to education within UC’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

Said Hammond, “The purpose of the Design Futures Council is to spot and analyze trends that will affect our professions. DAAP’s multidisciplinary education is already internationally recognized as among the world’s best. That type of education will definitely influence the future of our professions. So, it was an easy sell to have our board meet here.”

And, of course, as architects, engineers and designers, the group will tour campus’ buildings along with others in the city. Hammond stated, “Yes, the architecture here is a can’t-miss opportunity for the group.”

Vontz Center
UC's Albert H. Vontz Center for Molecular Studies was designed by Frank Gehry.

National and international groups that have or will come to UC because of the university's architecture



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