The Ohio State University South Campus Central Chiller Plant is an iconic marker at a major entry and pathway into campus . Utilitarian in function, this collegiate infrastructure building has no active users. Conceived of as a “House for Energy,” the LEED Silver Certified building has an envelope that showcases the energy-efficient chiller equipment inside and records the sun’s energy on the exterior.
Glazed openings are specifically located to frame views of the chiller equipment. The highly technical façade is composed of modular precast concrete panels that preserve views of the equipment. Seemingly random at first glance, the ordered façade of two-hundred panels is based on repetition, efficiency, and function; utilizing just nineteen panel types. Functionally, the envelope minimizes the visual, noise and vibration impact of large equipment: chillers, cooling towers, transformers and generators.
Working in collaboration with a glass manufacturer, the design team created the first exterior use of dichroic film, a metallic inner layer that alters the wavelength and therefore the color of light passing through. Dichroic glass fins and boxes change in color with the movement of the sun that cast color-changing shadows onto the precast panels that have been polished to a high sheen.
The resulting design is a dynamic façade that changes with the time of day, season and the location of the observer.