Northern Kentucky University, New Power Plant

Highland Heights, Kentucky

  • FIRM

    Champlin Architecture


    Northern Kentucky University

  • AREA

    20,000 sq.ft.





A dramatic central campus location at the crest of a hill and fronting the primary access road inspired the university’s request for “context-driven” architecture—for a building type that typically is, at best, mundane, and at worst, a public eyesore.

The university is an example of “Brutalist” campus design, characterized by cavernous concrete structures conveying ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$460.00FEATURED IN2005 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYSpecialized anonymity. A strong desire to infuse new campus architecture with a more humanist, if figural, aesthetic, while maintaining a sense of continuity through material and color informs the bold volumetric aspirations and attention to facade design seen here.

The facility houses primary and secondary water pumps and electrical switchgear on a lower, plinth level; chillers are above in a tall, day-lighted “piano-nobile,” and boilers in a barrel-vaulted frontispiece. The command center occupies an adjunct volume, terminating in a semicircular workroom.

Reflective of its purpose, volumetric organization portrays Corbusier’s “machine in the garden” aesthetic. Mechanical expression is infused with a sense of transparency and familiar facade organization to establish the power plant as a distinct and recognizable place on campus.