The buildings exterior wall system is a Reynobond composite metal panel of which the provenance has a local connection: Bauxite was first processed into aluminum in Oberlin by scientist Charles Martin Hall. The milled brush finish plays with the light in a way that evokes the adjacent Yamasaki buildings; their white concrete has an opalescent aggregate that gives the white a great deal of depth.
Sustainably harvested ipe is used as part of the LEED Gold strategy. It will weather to gray, relating in tone to the metal panels. The building's top floor is a fully glazed box that floats over Kohl plaza on the buildings west face. A custom frit pattern helps increase the glazings shading coefficent to 0.28 while adding another shade of gray to the palette. Over time, The building will become a series of gray tones as a backdrop for a vibrant art, Kurtz says.
The Reynobond cladding is treated with a specially formulated stain from PPG Industries that takes it from aluminum to a deeper shade, more like zinc, Kurtz says. The team selected the coils of metal used for the panels and then took samples to the plant, where the coating was tested.
The pattern of windows on the east fa§ade is a nod to the neighboring Yamasaki buildings. The rhythm of panels was intended to recall, but not mimic, the windows and arches of the older buildings.
Interior circulation centers on a series of stairs on the west side of the building. The first flight mirrors an outdoor staircase, which doubles as seating for performances. Standing on the second floor landing, students can see up into a courtyard on the third floor.
A third-story bridge links the Kohl Building to a new circulation tower that nestles between two of the Yamasaki volumes. The bridge doubles as a student lounge. Polished concrete floors and white walls create a neutral backdrop for the space, which can be used for everything from group study to impromptu performances.
The faculty lounge is also located on the third floor, next to the enclosed garden. Growing in the garden are two specially bred witch hazel trees, which bloom in late January. When students return for the spring semester, the vibrant orange and lime green blooms provide a respite from the snow-covered Ohio winter.
The corridors offer benches and nooks that are intended for use as casual social spaces. The hope is to promote more interaction between students and the faculty who have offices nearby.
The recording studio located on the south end of the building is the most acoustically sensitive room in the building. To isolate the room from the rest of the facility, the walls are a massive 4 feet, 1 inch thick. The ceiling has to protect the studio from airplane noise and vibrations, because the building is on the flight path to the Cleveland airport. The green roof directly above the studio adds extra mass that helps block the roar of 747s passing overhead.