Opened: January 2018
Architect: GBBN Architects
For the last few years, the University of Cincinnati campus has been a forest of cranes and construction sites as a number of new projects covered the urban campus. The running joke is that UC really stands for “under construction.” Within the housing department, which has been tasked to find space for a rapidly growing number of students, the latest fruit of their labor is Marian Spencer Hall.
The sleek, bright, and modern-looking hall features 338 beds and 113,000 square feet of mixed-use space. The first floor includes one of the campus’s most popular dining halls as well as a Tim Horton’s coffee shop. The building is also the new site of the campus housing offices. Aesthetically it is a bridge between its neighbors. It has the glass façade similar to the two residence halls to the north as well as the brick exteriors of the older residence buildings to the south. The result is a structure that both fits in with and stands apart from its neighbors. Glass in the common lounges brings in daylight and provides stellar views over the heart of the campus.
With suite-style rooms, the building is home to the Scholars in Transition and the Engineering living-learning communities. It also has an honors-themed floor. The hall is named in honor of the local civil rights advocate Marian Spencer, who, when she first started attending the school in 1938, wasn’t allowed to live on campus. She was a longtime member of the NAACP, helped desegregate Cincinnati public schools, and was the first African American woman elected to Cincinnati’s city council. She died at age 99, less than a year after the hall opened, but her memory will remain.
— by James A. Baumann