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Campus & Community

10 locales we love: Tour great spots at Ohio State

Few people know campus as well as Molly Ranz Calhoun, president of Ohio State University Alumni Association, and here she shares top places for Buckeye meetups.

A smiling woman poses outside with hands on hips and a happy smile. Her hair is gray and frames her face; her scarlet jacket is modern and has small studs and zippered pockets.For alumni association president Molly Ranz Calhoun ’86, Ohio State is a home away from home. The expert on university spaces not only earned a degree in design here, she spent more than 35 years working on campus, including managing operations for the renovation and construction of all Student Life facilities.

“Spaces create culture. They create belonging,” says Calhoun, who points to the renovated lobby at Longaberger Alumni House, with its comfy seating and welcoming fireplace that encourage graduates to stay a while and chat. “The spaces we build — and the spaces between what we build — create opportunities for us to connect to past, present and future. They build the memories that create our culture of belonging to something bigger than who we are as individuals.”

Here are 10 more of Calhoun’s favorite places on the Columbus campus that offer great opportunities for connection.

Two young women sit in padded rocking chairs in front of a wall of windows that make them look like no more than dark silhouettes. The frames in the wall of windows have an architectural look and in the distance, you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Columbus.

This interactive video shows what it’s like to be in Park 10 Lounge, also called The Knox Sky Lounge. Once the video starts, if you’re on a phone or tablet, move it around to change your perspective. If you’re on a computer, click and drag.

PARK 10 LOUNGE: When the university connected Park and Stradley residence halls, the 10th-floor connector was turned into this two-story lounge space with couches and a window overlooking downtown Columbus. It boasts plenty of natural light.

SOUTH OVAL: If the Oval is the living room, then South Oval is the family room. Here, students can get dirty and tear up the grass. A Calhoun favorite here: attempts to set the Guinness World Record for biggest pillow fight.

In a restaurant space with an order counter and diners in the background, two young women eat lunch at a wooden table with food in front of them. The black woman laughs, wears glasses and holds a sandwich; the white woman smiles at her and momentarily ignores her soup.

This interactive video shows what it’s like to be in Heirloom Café inside the Wexner Center for the Arts. Once the video starts, if you’re on a phone or tablet, move it around to change your perspective. If you’re on a computer, click and drag.

HEIRLOOM CAFÉ: This Wexner Center for the Arts dining space was a project Calhoun first envisioned for her senior design class — before the building was constructed. “It’s very much what I imagined it was going to be, kind of a hidden gem under the stairwell.”

HALL COMPLEX COURTYARD: Gathering places often are intentionally created during the design process in the spaces between buildings, such as Scott Green between the Physics Research Building and Scott Laboratory or Ratner Plaza between Park-Stradley and Baker halls. Hall Courtyard, formed by the U shape of the building surrounding it, works as an intimate space that connects indoors and outdoors.

BROWNING AMPHITHEATER: When Calhoun came to sibs weekend as an eighth grader to stay with her older sister in Mack Hall, they went to see Livingston Taylor, James Taylor’s younger brother, play at Browning. These days, the amphitheater space near Mirror Lake hosts performances by theatre groups, weddings and other special events.

Students sit in seats looking up at a night sky projected onto the domed ceiling of a planetarium. The sky is blue with large and tiny white stars and casts blue light on the students’ faces.

This interactive video shows what it’s like to be in the Ohio State Planetarium inside Smith Lab. Once the video starts, if you’re on a phone or tablet, move it around to change your perspective. If you’re on a computer, click and drag.

OHIO STATE PLANETARIUM: As a freshman, Calhoun and her residence hall mates visited the cozy planetarium on the fifth floor of Smith Lab. Her kids would later enjoy lying back and looking up at the stars when their Ohio State child care group visited.

POMERENE HALL: As the university’s first women’s union, Pomerene was where, during her college years, Calhoun took yoga in the gym and swam in the pool (since removed). “It’s a beautiful building surrounded by so much history,” she says. “There are magnificent spaces inside to host events.”

Looking down on a dining room floor from a second-story vantage point, almost three dozen students eat at tables or along counters. Tall windows line the walls and scarlet circles at the ceiling provide more light.

The first two floors at Scott House residence hall are home to Traditions at Scott, a dining hall that features multiple specialized cooking stations to suit a variety of tastes. That makes it easy to bring Buckeyes together for a meal.

TRADITIONS AT SCOTT: Plans for the north residential district were designed to provide opportunities for faculty to meet up with students on common ground. This all-day breakfast spot at the edge of campus was the largest sit-down dining area in Columbus, with more than 900 seats, when it opened.

SLOOPY’S DINER AT THE OHIO UNION: An ideal environment for meetings, this restaurant is an invaluable on-the-job teaching space for hospitality management students. Plus, a fun tradition singles out some Buckeyes to have sandwiches named in their honor.

MIRROR LAKE: A favorite for generations, Mirror Lake is a great place to stop and connect, even during winter. Each year for Light Up the Lake, shining November through February, the Ohio Staters hang over 50,000 lights — one for every student on campus — to bring light during a dark season.

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