Lawn Boy

Lawn Boy

The new university center links several areas of campus and defers to its grassy landscape.
James Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography

Like most Spartans, the newest arrival on Case Western Reserve University’s campus this academic year hangs out on the lawn. Squeezed in between two existing buildings and popular Freiberger Field, the new Tinkham Veale Center (nicknamed “The Tink”) does everything with a nod to its landscape.

Dedicated August 24, the Perkins + Will-designed building sits at the intersection of the two historic campuses of Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology. A pass-through walkway connects them still, while the building’s three-pronged shape reaches out to the distinct campuses that surround it. “The building really does not have a back side,” said Perkins + Will managing principal Mark Jolicoeur. “It’s a unifying agent within the campus, providing a daily hub of activity for students and faculty.”


A green roof helps the steel-and-glass building blend in beside the public lawn, as does an accessible “tail” of green space that glides down to meet Freiberger Field. According to Jolicoeur, at the building’s opening students took to the sloping lawn for a vantage point on the band OKGo, performing for the start of the 2014–15 school year. Even when an event is not happening, the elevation is intended as a viewing platform for everyday activity on the field, from frisbee to football.

Glass walls connect the slender two-story building’s interiors to its surroundings, letting in light and reframing the adjacent masonry buildings. Perkins + Will Design Director Ralph Johnson said the windows make the existing buildings look new again. “You’re always looking out to one of those spaces,” said Johnson. The courtyard between Tinkham Veale and its immediate neighbors also contains two sculptures by Philip Johnson. “It seems to fit really well on campus. It kind of looks like it’s been there for a while.”


The building’s unusual shape was partly the product of structural and ventilation issues with a below-grade parking lot. “What looked like a huge open site,” said Johnson, “turned out to be pretty tight.”

Targeting LEED Silver, the 89,000-square-foot building cost $50 million and was funded entirely by donations, $20 million of which came from its namesake. Tinkham Veale II is a 1937 alumnus known for his industrial and philanthropic pursuits. He died in 2012 at the age of 97.