By Austin Lightle

The Recreation and Physical Activity Center, or better known as the RPAC, was built in the heart of Ohio State’s campus in 2005.  With its massive scale and irregular design, the RPAC is a true gem of the campus.  It has become a very iconic building for not just The Ohio State University but also for the city of Columbus.  It was designed by Moody Nolan Incorporation, and locally by design architect Antoine Predock.  They were left with a tough job of putting a nearly 600,000 square foot building on a campus full of students without impacting circulation.  The architects were able to successfully fulfill the universities needs and give it a landmark at the same time.  Not only was the RPAC a landmark but it is notorious for its “Scarlet Walkway” connection the RPAC to the Physical Activity and Education Services building.  The walkway adds a flow to building that allows students to go between the buildings without having to cause chaos on the sidewalks.  The Scarlet walkway adds continuality to the façade of both buildings.  The scarlet glass continues from the walkway all the way to the entrance of the Physical Activity and Education Services.  It adds hierarchy to the RPAC because the walkway builds up to the iconic RPAC at the end.

The RPAC is not built on flat ground like most buildings.  There is a large slope in the topography that the designers decided to build with rather then erase it.  The topography allowed them to create a unique design.  The natural topography served as a precedent for the slope of the the exterior walls on the building.  Instead of entering at the bottom and working your way up like in most buildings, you enter at the top and work your way down.  The slope allows the building to have have ramps and large figural voids inside the building.  There are parts when you can look down from the fourth floor and see the ground floor.  The main materials used in construction of the RPAC are steel, concrete, and glass.  The structure of the building is a prefabricated steel that is connected by large trabeated support beams.  Most of the façade of the building is glass except for the west side where the class rooms and offices are located.  During the day the glass serves as almost a mirror. From far away you can not see anything inside the building, even you are closer to the building it is still hard to see through the slanted glass façade.  When the sun goes down and all the lights in the building are on the façade becomes completely transparent.  The structure and interior of the building also becomes completely visible.  This unique view adds a sublime feel to build and adds to its hierarchy on campus.


  1. “Recreation & Physical Activity Center (RPAC).” Moody Nolan. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.
  1. http://www.dispatch.com/content/search/google-results.html?iq=st%20joseph#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=st%20joseph&gsc.page=1

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