Austin Hall opened September 2014 as the new home for OSU’s College of Business (COB), bringing 100,000 square feet that includes ten classrooms, a 250-seat auditorium, collaborative team rooms, research suites, over 70 faculty offices, staff and program offices, a café and event space.
Austin Hall will be connected by an open courtyard to the new Classroom Building, which will mean this area will have 5,000 – 6,000 students and faculty moving through this area during class changes. Built upon the realization that COB holds a unique place at OSU as the connection of other disciplines with the marketplace, Austin Hall includes large gathering and interactive learning spaces, all of which were designed to support universal accessibility and inclusivity.
All four entry doors have electric assist actuators. Two centrally-located elevators connect the four floors of the building. Classrooms and auditoriums with multiple levels have sloped walkways to allow wheelchair access. The typical 48-seat classroom in the building has wheelchair access to 2 of the three seating levels. The 30-seat seminar room supports access to all levels. The 250-seat auditorium provides access to the front and to the rear entrance area of the room. Additionally, there is more than one location for wheelchair seating areas. Because it can be difficult to adjust door pulls to accommodate a variety of height considerations, airport-style restrooms eliminated the need for doors on the entrances. In office spaces and all classrooms, height-adjustable furniture is incorporated.
Landscape architecture includes subtle integration of accessibility features. Building entry paths are gently sloped beyond ADA minimum standards to provide an elegant and seamless grade change, so that everyone, including those with mobility assistance needs, are able to approach the building in the same manner. Seat walls and benches allow all wheelchair and non-wheelchair users to sit together, rather than sitting separately in dedicated spaces.
Cutting edge technology for the hard of hearing has also been included. In addition to the standard infrared assistive listening device capability, which requires the use of hand-held equipment, Austin hall is equipped with an audio induction loop system that creates a magnetic field in the room to transmit sound directly to hearing aids and cochlear implants, for hands-free accessibility. The audio induction loop system provides a more discreet listening experience, while also decreasing background noise, competing sounds, reverberation and other acoustic distortions that reduce the clarity of sound.
The open nature of the building and the floor-to-ceiling white board walls creates an open, interactive learning experience. To accommodate different learning styles and study needs, building design includes learning environments, which encouraged students to continue their learning and discussions outside the classroom.