Miami University in Oxford, Ohio is building a new student center, and it’s old arts center stood in the way. So in the process of relocating the facility, the university settled on a plan to transform an old natatorium into a new art center. The old natatorium, designed by Cellarius & Hilmer Architects in 1960, had good bones and large light-filled spaces, classic elements of art studio conversions. Working within the confines of the old building, Dayton, Ohio-based Annette Miller Architects transformed the pool building into an education facility, called Phillips Hall, housing a wood shop, ceramic, painting, and photography studios, as well as faculty offices.
They placed mechanical systems in the pool space itself, built a platform for the first floor, and inserted a mezzanine level. The architects kept the glazed ceramic tile on the interior. “We wanted to retain an element of what the building was before,” said Mason Waldo, the project’s lead interior designer. A giant blue louvered screen hangs over the two story south facing windows, picking up on the pool theme, while green panels are suspended from the ceiling to provide scale. Red columns hold up the mezzanine and contrast with the cooler blues and greens. “The red columns were just for fun,” he said. The airy space welcomes students into the artistic process in an inviting and slightly irreverent way.