2 Feb 2012

Norwegian Architecture Finds its Way Into BGSU

Author: Austin J. Hunt | Filed under: BGSU, Donnell Theatre, Local stories, Spring 2012, Student Contributor, Wolfe Center

By Austin J. Hunt

Opened in December of 2011, Bowling Green State University’s $42 million Wolfe Center shows its Norwegian roots with architectural design from Snøhetta, an established Norwegian architecture firm, along with the artwork of Anne Senstad, a famous Norwegian artist.

Bowling Green State University was very particular with its search for an architectural firm to design the Wolfe Center. Ron Shields, the chair of the Theater and Film Department, explained that the university wanted an emerging architectural firm to take on the project.

The university awarded Snøhetta, a Norwegian architectural firm with offices in Oslo, Norway, and New York City, the job of designing the Wolfe Center. The firm has worked on many projects around the world but is best known in the United States for designing the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in downtown New York City.

Snøhetta cited the northwest Ohio glaciers as its main inspiration. The firm envisioned the building as a dynamic force, similar to the glaciers that created the Black Swamp in the Bowling Green area.

“It’s as much architecture as it is art,” Shields said about the design of the building.

The “monumental stairs” as Ryan Miller, the project manager of the Wolfe Center describes, becomes one of the main visual attractions inside the building. Snøhetta and BGSU wanted a grand staircase that could serve multiple functions. The BGSU men’s choir took advantage of the multi-purpose staircase, performing during the grand opening of the Wolfe Center on Dec. 9.

"The Eternal." By Anne Senstad. Photo by Austin J. Hunt.

Along with the grand staircase, the Wolfe Center main lobby showcases a massive 80-by-30-foot mural titled “The Eternal,” that hangs on the wall. The mural was designed and created by Norwegian artist Anne Katrine Senstad. According to Sheilds, Senstad cited her inspiration as coming from the sun trying to peek through the northwest Ohio clouds in the morning.

“The artwork is absolutely wonderful and really adds to the building.” J.D. Caudill, a musical theater major, who has classes in the Wolfe Center.

Along with “The Eternal,” Senstad has other works of art in the building. One of the pieces of art by Senstad hangs under the stairs in the lower lobby, which Ron Shields describes as his favorite part of the building. Another piece, a smaller rendition of “The Eternal,” hangs at the top of the grand staircase and is visible from most angles of the main lobby.

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