The Ohio State University recently announced a restoration of historic Mirror Lake and the surrounding district focusing on safety and sustainability.
In November 2013, the university began exploring ways to make the lake more sustainable. A series of modifications over many decades had resulted in a body of water that was both polluted and leaking, requiring consistent maintenance and creating thousands of gallons of waste water daily.
The restoration announced on Oct. 11 will return Mirror Lake to a more natural and sustainable state — closer to its historical form — while emphasizing improved stormwater management, reducing chemical water treatments, increasing overall biodiversity, and more.
The overall Mirror Lake District, including Browning Amphitheater and Oxley and Pomerene Halls, is being renovated to create modern learning environments for students and faculty in data analytics, linguistics and the history of art — while retaining its significance, ambience and appearance as an early and iconic area of campus. The experience of walking through the district will be much the same as it would have been throughout the past century, but the facilities will be upgraded dramatically to 21st century standards for safety, sustainability and functionality. During the first phase of this project, which began last spring, Baker Commons was renovated to house the Office of Student Life’s disability services.
“This is an unparalleled opportunity to advance our academic mission while connecting our campus’s past with a vision for a sustainable future,” said Bruce A. McPheron, executive vice president and provost. “The project is the culmination of years of work, and we appreciate the involvement and input from hundreds of members of the university community.”
The current restoration process began in October with spring of 2018 targeted for a grand re-opening of the historic district.
After the 2013 Mirror Lake sustainability study, a spring 2014 design charrette with active participation from students, faculty and staff recommended interim sustainability efforts — including sourcing from ground water wells, which will continue in the current renovation.
The charrette was followed by an open house at which approximately 200 members of the campus community reviewed and provided input on the concepts. An online survey conducted to gather further input received more than 300 additional suggestions and recommendations. The combined results strongly favored a concept that returned Mirror Lake to its natural state.
That effort served as the basis for the current plan, which was combined with long-planned and extensive renovations to buildings and locations in the district bordering Neil Avenue, including Baker Commons, Browning Amphitheater and Oxley and Pomerene Halls.
The restoration also supports the university’s compelling interest, shared by student leaders, in seeing the recent practice of a Mirror Lake jump ended.
Said Keith Myers, associate vice president of planning and real estate: “Mirror Lake is an important historic campus landmark that evokes the pride we all feel as Buckeyes.
“As we approach the 150th anniversary of Ohio State’s founding, our plans have been carefully developed with input from the university community to restore the lake and its environs to its original serene habitat with a focus on sustainability and safety — all while retaining its status as one of our most beautiful, most-loved features of the campus.”
Information for this story was provided by The Ohio State University.