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UC Building Rises in the Ranks: Named Among the World’s Elite Eleven

The most prestigious professional group in American architecture has just named UC’s Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center among the world’s 11 best buildings of 2006. The judges praised the building’s dynamism.

Date: 1/20/2006 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Andrew Higley and Lisa Ventre

UC ingot  

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is just out with its 2006 international rankings of the world’s most notable projects, and the University of Cincinnati’s Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center (SLC) is among those named as the 11 most exciting buildings – taking its place among winning projects from throughout the United States and Europe.

The 2006 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture represent the profession’s highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture and urban design.

The architects from throughout the U.S. who served on the AIA award jury noted that the 42-foot-wide, 500-feet long crescent form of the SLC represents a design challenge that has been well met. That challenge came from the extremely narrow building site available for the structure along with 60-foot grade changes along the spine of the site.

Project designer Mario Violich, senior associate with Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners, who designed the student life center in partnership with firm principal Buzz Yudell and with local firm, glaserworks, admitted that the extremely narrow building site was quite the challenge. He added that it was also quite the opportunity that eventually led to creatively incorporating daylight into just about every corner of the building by means of the wall of windows facing onto Tangeman University Center.

SLC not only incorporates great views of the central commons to the south but also more intimate views into the Mews gardens on the north side. Said Violich, “It would have been easy to treat the narrow slip of space between SLC and Swift Hall as residual space, but we wanted to create another kind of public realm, something to contrast the hard, open, urban feel of MainStreet. The Mews gardens is that contrast. They’re soft, intimate and varied.”

The 114,700-square-foot SLC is the backbone of UC’s MainStreet, cooperating in the flow of major pedestrian and topographic paths. The AIA jury remarked that the structure “figuratively bridges the residential, recreation, and classroom districts of the campus” and adding, “This is architecture that…creates a dynamic and active exterior MainStreet for the students.”

Other winning projects spotlighted by the AIA for recognition include a small chapel, a library a very large convention center, restoration of Washington State’s 1920s capitol, artists’ housing and museums located in Baden-Baden, Germany; Ditzingen, Germany; Malaga, Spain; Washington, D.C.; Geyserville, California; Seattle, Washington; and New Brighton, Minn.

UC’s Steger Student Life Center houses

  • UC Bookstore business center
  • Center for Community Engagement
  • Ethnic Programs and Services
  • Judicial Affairs
  • Philip M. Meyers Jr. Memorial Art Gallery
  • Professional Practice
  • Student Life
  • Student Government
  • Student Organizations and Activities
  • Wellness Center
  • Women’s Center
  • Computer lab
  • Starbuck’s and Subway
  • Meeting spaces