Ohio University to break ground for arts center designed by Snøhetta

Ohio, a state with a rich collection of buildings by star architects from around the globe, is about to add another masterpiece by highly acclaimed Norwegian firm Snøhetta. The project will be the firm’s first to be completed in the United States.

Courtesy Bowling Green State UniversitySleek and mysterious, the Snohetta-designed Wolfe Arts Center, to be built at Bowling Green State University, looks somewhat like a spaceship emerging from -- or burrowing into -- the earth.

Courtesy Bowling Green State UniversitySleek and mysterious, the Snøhetta-designed Wolfe Arts Center, to be built at Bowling Green State University, looks somewhat like a spaceship emerging from -- or burrowing into -- the earth. Photo: Bowling Green State University.

Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green announced March 4 it will break ground Saturday, April 25 for a $40 million, 93,000-square-foot arts center designed by Snohetta, based in Oslo, Norway and New York.

The Wolfe Center for the Arts is intended to foster creativity and encourage collaboration in theater, music, film, digital arts and dance.

Images of the building make it look like a sleek and shiny slab of metal sliced by horizontal window bands. The entire structure seems to be rising slowly out of the earth or sinking into it, depending on your perspective.

It shouldn’t be necessary to justify aiming sky high in the arts, but the BGSU press release about the groundbreaking says that “emerging research about the link between economic revitalization and a climate of creativity shows that our communities need a creative and educated population that is technically savvy.”

That shouldn’t be news to anyone familiar with the writings of economist Richard Florida, or to anyone who voted for the countywide cigarette tax to support public arts funding in Cuyahoga County.

But it’s nice that BGSU is spreading the word and backing up its enthusiasm for the arts with a building by Snøhetta.

The project will be the firm’s first to be completed in the United States.

Admired for its Oslo Opera House, the Alexandria Library in Egypt and the new cultural center for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Snohetta was a runner-up in the competition to design the expansion of the Akron Art Museum, completed in 2007.

That commission, designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au of Vienna, was also a U.S. first for its firm.

Ohio is also home to buildings by, among others, Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Peter Eisenman, Robert Stern, Michael Graves, Sejima & Nishizawa, I.M. Pei, Cesar Pelli and Arata Isozaki, not to mention Rafael Vinoly’s expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Art, now under way.

By Steven Litt / Plain Dealer Architecture Critic. Source: Cleveland.com

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