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Which State Has the Boldest Architecture?

Bowling Green State University

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Quick: Which state has the boldest architecture? Ohio didn’t roll of your tongue, did it? But Bowling Green State University, near Toledo, just broke ground on a new building by Snøhetta. And that’s on top of a slew of other works by contemporary masters, scattered around the state, including Coop Himmelb(l)au, Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, SANAA, Zaha Hadid, I.M. Pei, Peter Eisenmann, Cesar Pelli, Robert Stern and Arata Isosaki; Rafael Vinoly is putting the finishing touches on an expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Snøhetta’s Wolfe Center for the Arts will be the new home of Bowling Green’s music and theater departments; it’ll also anchor the arts on campus, with theaters and performance spaces. Naturally, it’s a fairly large building, at 93,000 square feet, with a cost of $40 million. The signature feature will be a stunning cantelevered awning, which visitors approach via a gently graded, grassy ramp. (Ramps being Snøhetta’s signature.) The firm has been on a tear recently–they just won the Mies van der Rohe Award

Wolfe Center for the Arts

Wolfe Center for the Arts

Wolfe Center for the Arts

Coop Himmelb(l)au’s Akron Museum of Art was the firm’s first building in the U.S.:

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Akron Museum of Art

Another first in the U.S., this time for SANAA and its ultra-elegant Glass Pavillion, at Toledo’s Museum of Art:

Toledo's Museum of Art

Frank Gehry’s building, on the campus of Case Western Reserve University (whose winding halls were incidentally blamed for a bungled SWAT raid):

Case Western Reserve University (Frank Gehry)

Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Arts Center, in Cincinnati:

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Contemporary Arts Center, in Cincinnati (Zaha Hadid)

Thom Mayne’s rec center, for the University of Cincinnati:

University of Cincinnati (Thom Mayne)

And Rafael Vinoly’s Cleveland Museum of Art, which opens this summer:

Rafael Vinoly's Cleveland Museum of Art

Sadly though, with the exception of the SANAA and Zaha Hadid buildings, many of the buildings by great architects have often been slagged as lesser works. But in addition to architecture, Cleveland in particular is trying to transform itself through sustainability. Anyone in Ohio want to explain why the state attracts so much high-end architecture?

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About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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