Ohio University recently welcomed students into two newly completed academic buildings for classes during the Fall Semester. 

Heritage Hall, the new home for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, or HCOM, is a custom-built facility featuring small-group learning spaces, active-learning labs and video conferencing technology, according to a university news release. It is located on West Union Street at the Union Street Green. 

The space was designed to help support modern medical education and facilitate collaboration and interprofessional opportunities for students and faculty. New features include more interactive and collaborative learning rooms, a fitness center, a mindfulness room, a first-floor café and expansive natural lighting. 

“As we continue to transform our curriculum for the modern era and beyond, having a facility that is highly flexible and forward facing to deliver our curriculum is essential,” Ken Johnson, executive dean of HCOM and OU’s chief medical affairs officer, said in the release. 

The college also seeks to expand community outreach programs through the new space, an initiative that began this summer as HCOM utilized Heritage Hall as a COVID-19 vaccination site in partnership with the Athens City-County Health Department. 

The new building was made possible through a $105 million award from its namesake donor, the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, $21 million of which was allocated to construction of the facility. 

The overall budget for the project was $65 million, comprising $5 million HCOM capital and $60 million of institutional debt. The debt will be repaid over several years with funds from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation grant and the Heritage College’s operating funds. 

Along with Heritage Hall, the university furthered its campus development through the construction of a new chemistry laboratory, located between Clippinger Laboratories and Emeriti Park. 

The laboratory was approved for construction by the OU Board of Trustees in 2018 with a total budget of $42.6 million. Funding is made up of $12.8 million of state appropriations, $10,844,159.19 of Century Bond funding and $18,955,840.81 of institutional debt. 

Many chemistry and biochemistry professors have relocated their labs to the new available spaces in the building. 

“The needs of the chemistry department have changed considerably since Clippinger Hall was first opened, and we are proud to be able to conduct future work in this first-class facility,” College of Arts and Sciences Dean Florenz Plassman said in a university news release.

The new space includes more bright and open space in labs as well as new fume hoods and updated air circulation and regulation. 

“The new building will have a huge impact on students in my Organic Chemistry laboratory classes,” Klaus Himmeldirk, professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, said in the release. “The motivation to learn depends on the emotional (affective) evaluation of the environment by the student. A laboratory that is clean, safe and allows for social interactions is certainly more conducive to meaningful learning than a loud, more than 30-year-old laboratory with poor heat regulation and many signs of deterioration.” 

Himmeldirk also indicated that new lab buildings allow greater safety in the learning environment and a setting more conducive to efficient learning. 

Both Heritage Hall and the chemistry building constructions are part of OU’s comprehensive master plan, which seeks to repurpose and create new space to advance the university’s programmatic needs. 

“New space helps the University provide dynamic environments for teaching, research, living and recreation, as well as the flexibility to adapt to evolving needs. New construction is strategically located to leverage synergies with programs and partnerships in existing buildings,” the university writes in the master plan document