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OSU-Wexner Medical Center -- and the 'New James'
OSU's Wexner Medical Center and its $1.1 billion expansion.

Landscape Architecture by MKSK, Columbus, Ohio, with Sasaki Associates, and OLIN
By Michael Miyamoto, LASN



Working with Ohio State University, its Medical Center, and Sasaki Associates, the landscape architecture firm MKSK led the exterior master planning for OSU's Wexner Medical Center and its $1.1 billion expansion, defining short-term goals, long-term strategies and developing a phased implementation plan. The initial project was the OSUWMC Comprehensive Cancer Center, which consists of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute -- or the "New James" -- and marks the beginning of a long-range transformation of the Wexner Medical Center. MKSK "re-imagined" the Chlois G. Ingram Spirit of Women Park, the Phyllis G. Jones Legacy Park, the Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer Children's Park, the 'new' James Forecourt Plaza and the Phyllis Kaldor Hope Garden.
Photo credit: Randall Schieber, Randall Schieber Photography

MKSK, a landscape architecture firm based in Columbus, Ohio, played an integral role in the $1.1 billion expansion of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and the Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Together, the facilities make up OSU's prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center, and by extension, it was a major step forward in the OSU-Wexner Medical Center's long-range plans and strategies.

The OSUCCC -- commonly shortened to "The James" -- is one of 45 comprehensive cancer hospitals in the nation, named after Arthur G. James, the founder. With the recent expansion in 2014, it is now the third largest cancer hospital in the nation. The hospital treats cancer patients, while cancer research is conducted at the Solove Research Institute, named after Richard J. Solove, best known for his advocacy and philanthropy in the fight against the disease.


The Spirit of Women Park's signature feature is a 175-foot long crescent-shaped donor fountain and its etched granite. Here, the brilliant yellow of black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) in the fall make quite a display. Oak leaf hydrangeas (H. quercifolia) screen the busy roadway from the benches and tranquility of the fountain.
Photo credit: Randall Schieber, Randall Schieber Photography

A phased development plan was created for the expansion -- and the "New James." This included "re-imagining" the Chlois G. Ingram Spirit of Women Park; the Phyllis G. Jones Legacy Park; the Gerbig, Snell-Weisheimer Children's Park; the new James Forecourt Plaza; and the Phyllis Kaldor Hope Garden. All these sites are part of the Ohio State University campus and the OSU-Wexner Medical Center, and have been named after Cancer Center donors.


The original Chlois G. Ingram Park featured 1,515 hand painted ceramic tiles honoring the lives of women who played important roles at the Wexner Medical Center. Unable to salvage the tiles, each tile was individually photographed and painstakingly digitally traced. Then the landscape architecture team assembled the individual tiles into 97 mosaic glass panels. The mosaic panels appear to float just below the surface of the water, illuminated by hidden LED lighting (Hess).
Photo credit: Nick Fancher, Nick Fancher Photography

Chlois G. Ingram Spirit of Women Park
The landscape architecture team collaborated with OLIN to "repurpose" an underutilized flat lawn panel as a respite garden and create a new home for the Chlois G. Ingram Spirit of Women Park. Ingram was a dedicated American Red Cross volunteer at the OSU Medical Center in the 1950s-1960s. The original park featured colorful, hand-painted ceramic tiles mounted to a concrete wall. The tiles describe the personal stories of beloved and honored women, both living and deceased. Reusing the multicolored ceramic tiles from the former park was not feasible because they were weathered and fragile. So MKSK recreated the tiles into glass panels in a painstakingly involved process. This was done to maintain the handcrafted quality of the original artwork. The park is a dramatic signature space for the OSU Medical Center.


A social gathering space, adjacent to an existing caf?, provides a place for outdoor dining and conversation while viewing the memorial fountain. The park has incorporated secure Wi-Fi capability so that patients and doctors are able to access critical data. The "Charlie" table provides ADA seating under the shade of the shingle oaks. The red maples (Acer rubrum) along the streets were salvaged, stored off-site and returned during the construction process.
Photo credit: Randall Schieber, Randall Schieber Photography

Forecourt Plaza
The 1.25-acre Forecourt Plaza, set beneath a dramatic canopy, serves as the main entry to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (The James) and accommodates the active movements of patients, shuttle buses and pedestrian access to a nearby parking garage. Seating and planting zones, a respite garden, and a performance stage are set within this linear plaza, all designed as places of calm for visitors, patients and staff.


Challenged to provide an area that invokes the tradition of Ohio State University, the design team re-imagined the iconic "Oval" with its "Echo" path and designed the open space to provide dramatic views from patient rooms. The red brick (Pine Hall Brick 'Autumn Blend') and crisscrossing asphalt paths are repeated here in a modern interpretation of the campus' most honorable spaces. Victor Stanley, Inc., supplied the trash receptacles.
Photo credit: MKSK

Phyllis Kaldor Hope Garden
Located just outside the main entrance to The James, at the western edge of the Forecourt Plaza, the Phyllis Kaldor Hope Garden is the new home to the 13-foot bronze "Statue of Hope" that was designed by renowned sculptor Alfred Tibor. The statue was refurbished and is the centerpiece of the Garden, offering hope and inspiration to all people.


Dedicated in 1993 and created by famed artist Alfred Tibor, the relocated 13-foot "Spirit of Hope" sculpture provides inspiration to patients, their families and caregivers. The sculpture was relocated to the Phyllis Kaldor Hope Garden. Set within a field of dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin'), the sculpture is framed by a stand of birch (Betula populifolia 'Whitespire'), with an understory of Big Blue liriope.
Photo credit: Randall Schieber, Randall Schieber Photography

Phyllis A. Jones Legacy Park
Just south of the Forecourt spanning 10th avenue, the 2.4-acre Jones Legacy Park provides a dramatic "front" lawn to the new James. The identical brick used in the Oval's central promenade is repeated as the primary paving material in the park. Paving materials, site furnishings and the iconic serenade of the Orton Hall chimes, programmed into the light pole speaker system, were all part of the final design and link back to the history at Ohio State.


The Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer Children's Park provides an outdoor play environment for the OSU-Wexner Medical Center's younger visitors. In the photo: purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea 'Moench'); Becky shasta daisy (Leucanthemum superbum 'Becky); gay feather (Liatris spicata); black-eyed Susans; red switch grass (Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'); and dwarf fountain grass.
Photo credit: Randall Schieber, Randall Schieber Photography

Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer Children's Park
Tucked behind Jones Legacy Park, the Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer Children's Park is a place for outdoor play for OSU Medical Center's younger visitors. The custom children's playground was designed to accommodate universal play.


Custom patterned rubberized play surface (Terra-Soft EPDM), a climbing wall, a sensory garden, and a nature trail complete with overlooks and a custom slide (Columbus Cascade) create inviting outdoor environments for play and learning. Chinese elms, dwarf fountain grass and pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) are shown here.
Photo credit: Randall Schieber, Randall Schieber Photography


Team List
MKSK: Landscape Architect
OLIN and Saski Associates: Collaborating landscape architects
EMH&T: civil engineer
Shelley, Metz, Baumann, Hawk (SMBH): structural engineer
Dynamix Engineering, LTD: mechanical and electrical engineer
C.I.D. Irrigation Consultants: irrigation consultant
Big Red Rooster: graphic design
Turner Construction Company-Lend Lease Construction Inc.: construction management

As seen in LASN magazine, March 2017.

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August 24, 2019, 5:28 am PDT

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