Wexner Center for the Arts
Ohio State University
North High Street
Peter Eisenman and Richard Trott 1989
The Wexner is named after donor Leslie H.
Wexner, founder of the Limited, Inc. retail chain, a man preternaturally active in the
citys philanthropic affairs. The Wexner fills a tremendous need in the community for
a central arts facility; I grew up southeast of Columbus and can attest to its galvanizing
The Wexner can feel alternately cramped and
spacious; it can be disorienting to the point of near nausea (grids, grids, grids!), and
has a stairway that seems like it simply must be in violation of numerous safety
codes--but it is engaging, interesting, and friendly, giving shy Columbus comfort with
"alternative" buildings--hopefully paving the way for better attention to
architecture in the future.
The Wexner is also blessed with a site-specific
work by Maya Lin, "Groundswell," and terrific landscaped gardens, by landscape
architect Laurie Olin, to the north and west of the building. Unfortunately, the
firms landscaping of the eastern, main entrance to the building was too vast and
hardscaped to be welcoming to anyone but skateboarders and people who ride bikes that are
too small for them, and these groups dominate the entry to the point of unfriendliness.
Much ado was made by the architects about the
symbolic schism between town and gown: the university grid and city grid are misaligned by
12 1/2 degrees. By its site plan and use of grid vocabulary, they attempt to re-sew the
university back into the city.
Christy Rogers 1998
How to visit
Columbus has an enthusiastic pride in the
building and its offerings, and has at the front desk a short, free "Architecture
Guide" to the site. You can schedule a free, one-hour architectural tour for groups
of three or more by calling +1 614 292 6982.
The Wexner Center
386 on the OSU's online map. You may also
want to visit the Mathematics
Tower and Science/Engineering Library by Johnson and Burgee,
three blocks to the west. They are respectively buildings
005 on the OSU's
There is a public parking garage just south of
the Wexner on High Street. Other parking options are shown on the map.
For more information about the Wexner, call
Karla Rothan, Manager of Information Services, at +1 614 688 3162.
As stated by the "Architecture Guide",
The Wexner Center presents visual arts
exhibitions, music and dance concerts, performances, films, videos, and mixed-media
projects, as well as educational programs for audiences of all ages. Facilities include
four exhibition galleries, a film/video theater, a flexible "black box"
performance space, a lively cafe, a bookshop specializing in art and artists books
and unique gifts, a state-of-the-art video production studio and editing suite, and the
adjacent 2400-seat Mershon Auditorium.
The cafe food is great, but if you are spending
the day in Columbus you might also want to wander along High Street, especially northward,
to explore some neat bookstores, coffee shops, and restaurants--there is particularly good
Indian food in the neighborhood.