Setting the stage

New renderings promise an Arts District featuring modern, cutting-edge facilities for music and theatre

Arts District Rendering

A groundbreaking ground breaking is in process for the Arts District.

Bold and innovative, the Arts District seeks to spark imagination and inspiration across Ohio State’s creative disciplines. With the arts together in a central location, the possibilities for collaboration will only grow in this stretch of land between 15th and 18th avenues.

This grand vision has come one step closer to reality after the reveal of new renderings outlining what Bruce A. McPheron, executive vice president and provost, calls “the front door” to campus, and it is a front door that will be welcoming and reaffirming Ohio State’s commitment to the arts.

“I think that sends a message — that having the front door to the university lifted up as something that really is committed to the things that make our hearts and souls sing,” McPheron said.

The renderings illustrate long-term plans featuring a renovated and expanded School of Music (including a central atrium) and a new building for the Department of Theatre and moving-image production major, which originated in the Film Studies Program. Both facilities feature new performance spaces, modern recital halls, new rehearsal rooms and high-tech classrooms. The facilities are expected to open in August 2022.


“These facilities, located centrally and prominently near the Oval, will anchor the university’s ambitious new Arts District and reinforce our commitment to creative inquiry and performance,” said Peter L. Hahn, dean for arts and humanities in the College of  Arts and Sciences. “This project will bring world-class spaces to our School of Music and Department of Theatre for teaching, learning and performance — all for the benefit of our students, our faculty and the Columbus community.”

The new homes for these departments also bring them close to some current residents in the area: Wexner Center for the Arts; Sullivant Hall, home of the Departments of Dance and Arts Administration, Education and Policy, the Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise, the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum; Hayes Hall, home to the Department of Design; and Hopkins Hall, home to the Department of Art. This underlines the promise of renewed collaboration and enhanced and invigorating arts and culture experiences for the Ohio State and Columbus communities alike.

“Momentum continues to build for our investment in the arts programs through these new facilities and the nearby 15+HIGH project led by Campus Partners,” said Keith Myers, vice president of Planning, Architecture and Real Estate. “We envision this district as a centerpiece for the campus and a place for the community to come together to engage the arts.”

15+HIGH is a separate, but complementary project that includes a University Square, a new home for WOSU Public Media and the development of a “signature building” which is envisioned as a hotel featuring direct sightlines to the Oval and William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library. A renovated Pearl Alley will serve as a retail corridor with stores and restaurants.

The total project cost for the Arts District is $161.6 million, including $1.6 million from Ohio State Energy Partners. Private fundraising is expected to support about $50 million of the project.

“We are being very, very creative with how we support these facilities projects, but the honest truth is that we can’t do it without our friends. We can’t do it without our alumni,” McPheron said.

In fact, thanks to the generosity of music supporters and patrons through the New Day campaign, the College of Arts and Sciences came into this building project having already raised funds toward this goal. The New Day campaign was launched in 2012 to raise money for renovations to the School of Music facilities. This early support was a precursor to and catalyst for the Arts District.

The Arts District is part of Framework 2.0, a long-range plan for the environment of the Columbus campus guided and informed by Ohio State’s Time and Change strategic plan. To join us in elevating the arts at Ohio State, please visit go.osu.edu/artsfacilities or contact the Arts and Sciences Advancement at ascadvancement@osu.edu.