Skip to Main Content
Our Alumni

He knows the power of architecture 

To two-time graduate Sam Rosenthal, CEO of Schooley Caldwell, designing spaces and renovating landmarks are about creating amazing experiences for people.

A bearded man in a navy blazer stands smiles broadly in his office, surrounded by plants

Sam Rosenthal’s Schooley Caldwell office includes a prolific asparagus fern and framed print of Ohio Stadium. As a grad student, Rosenthal was awarded a scholarship named for Howard Dwight Smith, architect of the ’Shoe. (Photo by Jodi Miller)

In 1985, his family moved to Columbus, where the skyline looked very different from New York, but Rosenthal remained passionate about architecture and decided to study at Ohio State, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture. After that, Rosenthal worked for several design firms in Columbus before landing at Schooley Caldwell in 2011. His talent for design and strong project management skills earned him the job of president in 2019 and CEO in 2021.

While he’s busy overseeing multimillion-dollar projects, Rosenthal remains hands-on in his work. Just as he faithfully cultivates his asparagus fern, he tends to long-term projects such as the renovation of LeVeque Tower. “I’ve spent 10 years working on the restoration there, and I’ve been on every inch of the building inside and out. I was just out on the roof last week to do an inspection.”

Being a leader does have its privileges. Ever wonder how the colorful lights change on LeVeque Tower? That’s Rosenthal. He simply reaches for his phone and, with a few taps, can turn the lights pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, red and green for Christmas or other colors for nonprofit causes.

And when the Buckeyes make a touchdown during evening games, Rosenthal likes to flash scarlet and gray for a few moments.

From abandoned to inspiring

A long-abandoned school building north of the Ohio State campus has been transformed into a lively destination offering a bar, restaurant, café, fitness center and event space, thanks to a renovation designed by Sam Rosenthal and his team at Schooley Caldwell.

Noted architect Howard Dwight Smith designed the innovative Open Air School in 1928 for students at risk of contracting tuberculosis. The building featured abundant windows, indoor and outdoor play areas, and an open-air concept. The school later sat empty for years until the Kelley Cos. bought it in 2018 and hired Schooley Caldwell for the redesign.

A black-and-white historical photo shows a wide brick school. The center portion rounds outward and there are five archway openings set in that portion. A few adults and a few children stand in front.

Howard Dwight Smith designed the Open Air School in 1928 for children at risk of contracting tuberculosis. (Photo from Lauren K Davis/Feinknopf)

As the sky dims, lights shine from the windows of a wide, squat building whose architectural details include metal railings, arched windows and pale trim accenting the red brick.

The renovation turned the school into a modernized community space at 2571 Neil Ave. in Columbus. (Photo from Lauren K Davis/Feinknopf)

“We were able to keep the vast majority of the building and its character intact,” Rosenthal says. His team retained the windows, doors, staircases and hallways, and kept the lockers and chalkboards. On the exterior, they repaired some brick work, which was intentionally laid out in angles rather than a straight line — “a fun feature for the kids,” Rosenthal says.

His firm also preserved the exterior’s colorful tile and terra cotta detailing, a hallmark of Smith’s design. And in keeping with Smith’s goal to create a healthy environment, Schooley Caldwell designed a link from the patio of the building to the nearby Olentangy Trail.

“This connection to the trail has brought so many more people to the building,” he says. Hikers and cyclists can pop off the trail for rest and refreshments.

“It feels great to create a place where we can all come together in this community,” says Rosenthal.

Nearly 100 years after Smith designed the building, it’s as good as new.

Reinvigorating an icon’s work

Schooley Caldwell has many projects in its portfolio — including renovations, master planning and interiors — that originated from Howard Dwight Smith. In addition to the Open Air School, projects have included:

  • Ohio State’s Mershon Auditorium, William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library addition, the Faculty Club, and Baker, Ramseyer and Siebert halls
  • Columbus City Hall
  • Poindexter Village
  • First Congregational Church
  • Indianola Junior High, Bexley Junior High and the West High School cupola
Rate this story
Average: 4.7 (14 votes)