UC Alum Carrie Parker Designed Interior of UC's Newest Residence Hall
Date: Sept. 3, 2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos by Carrie Cochran
Students who live on the University of Cincinnati campus can start moving in at noon, Sept. 20. With the opening of Turner and Schneider Halls in the brand new Jefferson Residence Hall Complex, a total of 3,134 beds are now available for students who want to live on campus. In addition to their computers, stereos and suitcases, it's also likely students will have posters, masking tape and other knick-knacks tucked in their gear, as they set up house and make their rooms their very own.
Imagine what it would be like for a student to also select the paint, carpet and linoleum, not just for his or her room, but also for the entire hall. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for UC grad Carrie Parker, the interior designer for the Jefferson Residence Hall Complex. Parker, a senior interior designer for KZF Design, Inc. of Cincinnati, worked on the color scheme for the interior of the building in partnership with Jim Cheng, design director at KZF and the architectural designer of the Jefferson Housing Complex. Other UC alums and KZF employees on the Jefferson project team were Bob Schmitz (senior project architect), Don Hoffmann, James Chen, Ed Stegman, Tom Dietrich and Karen Green. Parker says there were also UC alums on the Messer Construction team.
Parker, who lives in Pleasant Ridge, graduated from UC with her bachelor's degree in design from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning in 1994. The Greenhills High School graduate also lived in campus housing as a student, including the very first dormitory ever to rise on campus, Memorial Hall, which was built back in 1924. However, Memorial Hall is no longer a student housing facility. The building underwent a massive restoration to become part of the College-Conservatory of Music Village. Parker was among the last groups of students to live in Memorial when it was a residence hall.
As she set about designing the interior of Jefferson, Parker worked with colleague and KZF architect Jim Cheng, so that the interior of the building "would be fun and also would help animate the exterior. The glass walls within the lounges and stairs generate a jewel-box effect through the color of the walls, the furniture and the students moving among them. The common areas were designed to include unique lounge furniture, atypical of a dormitory. All of these qualities are a benefit of the glass expressing the interior and the exterior."
Another challenge for Parker was that the Jefferson Housing Complex is comprised of six buildings, blended into two. The east group is named Darwin Turner Hall, after UC's youngest college graduate. The west group of buildings is named Herman Schneider Hall, after the founder of UC's cooperative education program.
"We wanted to bring six buildings together but pick two color palettes that had a common thread, so in Turner, there's blue, red and yellow, and in Schneider, there's purple, green and yellow. With the use of the glass, transparent lounges and connectors surround the central courtyard, fostering a sense of residential community, day and night."
Parker opted to keep the walls and carpet in the student rooms neutral, with the walls a soft white and the carpet a charcoal gray. "It's a flexible background so that students can bring their own look to their suites and rooms. The biggest impact is with the furniture and carpet in the lobbies. The carpet is a grid-design carpet that relates to the site, the walkways and the color of the buildings."
As she worked, she relived memories of her own days as a student, recalling that the fireplace in her old room at Memorial Hall gave the place some charm, but cramped the space. Sander Hall, the tallest building (26 floors, 293 feet high) to be imploded in North America, was still standing during Parker's early years on campus. She graduated in 1994. Sander came tumbling down in 1991. Tennis courts and a parking lot covered the area where Jefferson stands now. Asphalt has been replaced by green space as the university's Master Plan changes the look and feel of the campus.
The Jefferson Residence Hall Complex, she says, will serve as a quality anchor point for the west side of main campus. "When I was in school, I thought that was an area on the other side of the earth. Now it has become a central point on campus."
In fact, Jefferson is considered to be the west anchor of UC's $200 million MainStreet project to make the campus a bustling center of integrated living and learning, with better housing, student services, shopping, dining, recreation and entertainment. Parker says the Jefferson Residence Hall Complex "continues the transformation of the campus that has already established the University of Cincinnati as a leader in progressive environments for integrated living and learning."