MKSK: The Ohio Field Interpretive Signage helps bring the site of The Ohio State University’s first football field to life. The signage works to further enhance the North High Street campus gateway by conveying the stories of the people and events that make this such an important place in Ohio State’s history. Through a collaborative approach, we were able to reveal the original Ohio Field and allow the viewer to better understand the significance of the stories being told in context.
Ohio Field (1898–1921) was located between 17th and Woodruff Avenues with an initial seating capacity of approximately 5,000. The Buckeyes gained an immense following over the years, ultimately leading to the construction of Ohio Stadium in 1922.
The popularity of Ohio State football continues to grow. Today, the games draw over 100,000 fans from all over the state. The significance of Ohio Field—as the humble beginnings of what is now a nationally ranked Big Ten school—is sometimes forgotten (or unknown) by the extensive fan base. Initially, MKSK worked in conjunction with OLIN to further develop the design of a new green space and campus gateway at the site of Ohio Field. Later, MKSK was asked to design and implement an interpretive sign plan that would enhance this gateway and recognise the historic field.
The intent of the interpretive sign system is to create a narrative that would highlight an area of historical significance and is designed so that viewers may interpret the experience in their own way.
In order to accomplish the project objectives, the design team focused on generating content that would pay homage to the memory of the historic field. Through research and refinement of information, the team developed four pillars that best communicate Ohio Field’s historic influence: Athletes, Leaders, Spirit and Tradition. These four themes highlight influential people, significant events and encapsulate the overall spirit of Ohio State. Historic imagery applicable to these four themes was carefully selected from the University Archives. Quotes revelatory of the University’s spirit were included on each of the pillars including a selection of lyrics from Carmen Ohio—a song that has been an Ohio State football tradition for more than a century.
Each of the interpretive signs has two distinct sides: 1| a large, historic photo paired with a quote that reflects the specific theme and 2| information graphics that reveal details about influential people and events that took place at the field. The large graphics can be experienced from a distance, while the contrasting side requires a more intimate experience. A timeline of events spans the bottom of each sign. The events include important university-related milestones as well as several nationally recognised events that occur within the years of Ohio Field’s lifespan (1898–1921). The purpose of the timeline is to create a greater context—allowing viewers to have a better understanding of the circumstances that define this point in history. It was important to maintain the Ohio State brand image in our design, so the primary brand color palette is applied throughout. Additionally, Jersey M54 (a variation of a classic football jersey font) is used in combination with the sans serif typeface Din.
The commemorative landscape design creates a new defining edge and gateway for campus, integrates seating for study and gathering, and enhances cross-campus connections between two university districts. The landscape references the University’s campus-rich traditions and anchors this north gateway to the campus. A “Scarlet Line” allée of trees creates a unifying gesture marking a clear boundary between the University and City while defining a more comfortable series of open spaces between the street and the buildings. The interpretive signage enlivens what originally was an abstract representation of Ohio Field. The addition of yard markers (to help the viewer identify the field) and large-scale graphics add dimension to what appeared to be a flat, green space. Each panel was printed using the Direct Embed powder-coating process—allowing for the images to seamlessly wrap over any corners and edges. A granite base engraved with Ohio Field was designed to support each of the four panels which highlight the significant leaders, athletes, traditions, and spirit that have shaped the University.
Short office name: MKSK
Role of the office in the project: Interpretive Graphics, Landscape Architecture
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: OLIN
Project location: North High Street Landscape, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2016