Bolz Hall renovation powered by alumni and donor support

Posted: September 3, 2020

Newly renovated fourth floor designed to improve student experience

With approval from The Ohio State University Board of Trustees, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering (CEGE) leadership has named spaces in Bolz Hall in recognition of several generous donors who helped make the fourth floor renovation possible.

Rows of computer workstations in the Kokosing Design Studio
The well-equipped Kokosing Design Studio can accommodate 160 students.

The $2.5 million project that opened in late August not only modernizes the learning environment, but it will also improve the overall experience for CEGE students.

The renovated space includes a multi-purpose design studio, student collaboration and work areas, student advising suite and a kitchenette.

“We wanted to create a place where students, graduate students, faculty and staff could gather and collaborate,” said Associate Dean for Facilities and Capital Planning Michael Hagenberger, who is a CEGE professor of practice.

“It is a way to build community and—for the first time—creates a home for civil, environmental and geodetic engineering students.”

The 14,000-square-foot renovation includes the Kokosing Design Studio, a multi-use space that can serve 160 seniors working on their team capstone projects. It includes two 40-seat studios and one 80-seat studio—that is also an open computer lab—which can be used separately or combined to accommodate up to 160 students.

The Kokosing Design Studio features sliding glass walls to permit multiple configurations, state-of-the-art information technology for teaching and 160 computers that will be equipped with the latest software. When not used for classes, the entire studio will be available for students to study, meet and collaborate 24/7.

Named in recognition of Kokosing, Inc., which made a significant gift to support the project, the studio will also be utilized for guest lectures and career events.

“The company’s financial contribution for the new design studio is a natural extension of our long-term partnership with the university,” said Kokosing President and CEO Brian Burgett, BSCE ‘73. “Ohio State is continuing on an exciting trajectory and I can’t wait to see where it leads.”

Within the Kokosing Design Studio is the Comfort Family Collaboration Space, consisting of two huddle rooms and informal seating for students to meet and work. It is named after Greg Comfort BSCE ’78, MBA ’85, in honor of his significant contributions.

A member of the CEGE External Advisory Board and a capstone course instructor for nine years, Comfort helped conceptualize the Kokosing Design Studio and sees it as having a two-fold impact.

“This gives the students a space so they can be together and get to know each other,” Comfort explained. “Number two, it provides a real-life business environment, where they can work together and collaborate, with all the appropriate technology.”

A new advising suite will house the student advisors to facilitate easy and increased interaction with the department’s 750-plus students. Recognizing a family who made significant contributions to the renovation, the suite includes the Plahovinsak Family Advising Office, named in honor of Michael F. Plahovinsak and Jennifer L. Plahovinsak.

Also included is the Dr. Carolyn J. Merry Student Advising Office, which will house the head advisor. It is named in memory of Dr. Carolyn Merry, former CEGE chair and professor, in recognition of her unwavering dedication to students during her 25-year career at Ohio State. Her husband, Robert Redfield, made the first gift that kick-started the fourth floor renovation project.

Redfield shared that one of Merry’s long-term desires was to have a computer lab capable of accommodating large classes, instead of them having to be split into multiple sessions.

It’s just really gratifying to see that it has reached fruition,” he said. “Now those large classes will all be together and they’ll be able to collaborate, which is so important today.”

Cafe tables and collaboration space with comfortable seating
The Smariga Family Café and Comfort Family Collaboration Space enable students to socialize, eat and work together.

The Smariga Family Café, named in recognition of generous contributions from Edward G. Smariga BSCE ’72 and Pam D. Smariga, includes a kitchenette and casual seating for students to have a meal and socialize.

Smariga hopes the fourth floor space will enhance learning for CEGE students.

“My desire is that it’s a place for them to get together and collaborate,” he said. “Because that’s one of the best ways to learn.”

The floor also includes the Patrick ’75 & Deborah Ellis Huddle Room, which honors Patrick K. Ellis and Deborah S. Ellis. It offers additional space for students to meet in small groups or with a professional engineer serving as a capstone consultant.

New workstations and conference rooms for graduate students and post-doctoral students will enable interaction across research groups.

The renovated space is designed to be a professional environment where students can learn, work and socialize together, Hagenberger noted.

“If we want students to be professionals when they graduate, we need to provide opportunities for them to work in a professional environment.”

View more photos of the Bolz Hall 4th Floor renovation on flickr.

by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications,

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