Bryant Arts Center

DATE: 2009
LOCATION: Granville, Ohio, USA
OLD USE: Men’s gymnasium
NEW USE: Arts center


This 1904 Neoclassical building originally served as Cleveland Hall, the men’s gymnasium, at Denison University. In 1950, a new men’s gymnasium was built at the university. Cleveland Hall then became the women’s gymnasium. The studio art department later took over the building in 1970 when the men’s and women’s athletics were joined in the Physical Education Center. During this time period, the school also used the building for a student union, with dining facilities, a social hall, and meeting rooms.[1]


Founded as one of the earliest colleges in “Northwest Territory,” Denison University was originally called Granville Literary and Theological Institution and then Granville College. Landscape architectural firm Frederick Law Olmsted Sons created the “Olmsted Plan” for the campus in 1916 which the school continues to follow.[2]

The New York City architectural firm of Beyer Blinder Belle was brought on to see the newest conversion through. The firm is known for its involvement with many other historical building adaptive reuses. It was founded with “a different approach to the design of the built environment which focuse(s) on the social integrity of communities and institutions empowering the daily lives of people; their interaction with each other on streets and in neighborhoods; their potential to take pleasure in moving through the city; and their memories and associations with the physical fabric around them.”[3]


The Bryant Arts Center is now 45,000 square feet after an intensive adaptive reuse of the original building and additions to the north and east wings. The Center now serves as home to the studio art and art history programs within the Department of Art. The renovation has provided space for studios for ceramics, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and digital media, as well as fully electronic classrooms, open gallery spaces, an art history resource room, outdoor performance spaces, a common area for studio art seniors, and independent studios for faculty.[4]

The facade was retained but the original timber-frame interior has been replaced with a modern steel structure. This provided the school to have the lighting, circulation, and ventilation upgraded. A central four-story atrium was created to connect the floors and provide light through all the levels. Green construction was used on the project and it has been submitted for LEED Silver certification.[5]

[1]Denison University
[2]Denison University
[3]Beyer Blinder Belle
[4]Denison University
[5]Architectural Record

Images courtesy of Brad Feinknopf.