Henning Larsen debuts in North America with a business school in Cincinnati
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Henning Larsen debuts in North America with a business school in Cincinnati

Henning Larsen’s first project in North America - the business school at the University of Cincinnati - puts the spotlight on communal wellness, and learning outside the classrooms.

by Zohra Khan Sep 25, 2019

Danish architectural studio Henning Larsen debuted in North America with the recent project, The Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati, which is deemed to be one of the second largest universities in Ohio. Designed in collaboration with Cincinnati-based studio KZF, and British engineering firm BuroHappold, the project marks the coveted campus’ bicentennial.

University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
Lindner College of Business, Cincinnati, Ohio Image Credit: Alex Fradkin

The 225,000 sqft building imbibes a deep-rooted sense of communal wellness within the school through its Scandinavian-inspired approach. Located on the campus’ northeastern quadrant - amid a densely urban precinct in the north of Cincinnati, which is home to plenty of distinguished buildings - the new business school aligns with the neighbouring quad and connects it to the city's bus route. This created a porous pedestrian avenue, flowing through the built fabric that encourages students to pass through the building during campus commute.

A pedestrian path flows through the building that connects a neighbouring quad to the city bus route | University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
A pedestrian path flows through the building that connects a neighbouring quad to the city bus route Image Credit: Alex Fradkin

“Universities have a great responsibility in shaping young adults, and what happens outside of the classroom is equally, if not more important, than what happens inside,” says Michael Sørensen, Partner and Head of Henning Larsen’s New York office. The design seeks to spur communal well-being in the learning environment by reflecting on the Danish concept of hygge. “It’s an idea,” as Sørensen explains, “now associated around the world with candle-light and coziness, but the essence of hygge is really about being together in comfort and happiness. The students ultimately have to find hygge for themselves, but in providing spaces for togetherness we created a framework for that kind of atmosphere.”

The atrium offers multiple avenues for for learning outside the confines of classrooms | University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
The atrium offers multiple avenues for learning outside the confines of classrooms Image Credit: Alex Fradkin

The architects' intent was to foster knowledge beyond the confines of the classrooms and permeate it in every nook and corner of the campus. To make this happen, enough spaces for informal meetings and chance encounters have been integrated in the layout. A full height atrium cut through the centre of the building, where large skylights filter natural daylight into the interiors and help minimise the use of artificial lighting and glare. Distorted linear shadows of these skylights cast on the atrium walls, offering an immersive nudge to the space.

  • The steps in the atrium connects to the various floors and also act as an informal seating platform  | University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
    The steps in the atrium connects to the various floors and also act as an informal seating platform Image Credit: Alex Fradkin
  • Geometric shadows casting on the atrium walls create an immersive environment | University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
    Geometric shadows casting on the atrium walls create an immersive environment Image Credit: Alex Fradkin
  • Seating spaces overlooking the vibrant atrium  | University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
    Seating spaces overlooking the vibrant atrium Image Credit: Alex Fradkin

The atrium features a series of steps that double up as informal seating platforms, while flexibly laid furniture dots rest of the space. On the upper levels, counter seating is arranged peripherally that offer views of the atrium brimming with students. Across the rest of the interiors, the design eschews the traditional model of compartmentalised classrooms and offices, and instead promotes a more open and generous vision of future learning.  

A peek into the interiors of the building | University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
A peek into the interiors of the building Image Credit: Courtesy of Henning Larsen

On the outside, the four pristine volumes take on lenticular quality where the façade alternates between glassily transparent to stony-faced when viewed from different vantages.

A blend of the Scandinavian sense of openness with mid-western practicality, the project puts the spotlight on communal spaces within educational design, harnessing the idea of learning that takes place both in and out of the classrooms.  

  • Introverted landscape dot the building’s exterior  | University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
    Introverted landscape dots the building’s exterior Image Credit: Alex Fradkin
  • Introverted landscape dot the building’s exterior | University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
    Introverted landscape dots the building’s exterior Image Credit: Alex Fradkin

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than two years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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