Mirror Lake at Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects created a concept planning study for the historic Mirror Lake at the Ohio State University (OSU). Originally designed by the Olmsted Brothers, Mirror Lake was transformed over the last century, becoming disconnected from its hydrological and ecological environment; the lake was expanded, deepened, and its edges increasingly artificialized. These circumstances led OSU to seek design solutions to improve safety, sustainability, and ecological function while being mindful of Mirror Lake’s cultural relevance.

NBW research revealed the existence of a natural spring at the site - the primary reason for the selection of the original site at the time of OSU’s founding. The design process produced a design that honors the original, densely horticultural aesthetic of Mirror Lake, while integrating strategies for safety and stormwater management. The study considered the environment beyond the lake to encompass the entire Mirror Lake Hollow, where a series of proposed stormwater treatment areas and a network of sinuous paths recall the area’s geologic history as a stream valley and provide a distinct experience from the traditionally formal geometries of the adjacent Oval. The project was designed by NBW and implemented by MKSK

Collaborators: MKSK, EMH&T, Kelley Design Co.