Probasco Auditorium Renovation

University of Cincinnati

Design Challenge: As a result of an increase in student enrollment, the University of Cincinnati needed a large lecture hall and classroom space. At the same time, UC wanted to expand its campus footprint. UC acquired the vacant Second Church of Christ Scientist, a 1920s era Greek Revival building, to fill that void. Located at Clifton Avenue and Probasco Street, it also expands the campus footprint. Our challenge was to transform the existing church into a 430-seat student-accessible lecture hall. In addition, the lower level would serve as classroom space. Maintaining the architectural character of the neoclassical Greek Revival building was essential.

Design Solution: To define the full extent of needed repairs, MSP undertook a detailed assessment, including complete laser scan of both the interior and exterior along with on-site inspections by restoration experts. All infrastructure elements were upgraded including A/V, acoustics, information access, and MEP systems. The central two-story sanctuary space serves as the primary presentation and lecture hall featuring a retractable split-screen rear-projection system.

To maintain the look and feel of the old church, MSP was tasked with finding a way to use the original church pews as seating, but with the addition of a desk. MSP collaborated with PWWG who created a series of evolving concepts for the folding desk. MSP carried the concept through to completion culminating in the custom-designed folding tablet arm desks pictured below. Not only does it provide students with a desk surface; it’s also equipped with power and data connections.


Probasco pew concept 1 PWWG Pew concept 2 PWWG Pew concept 3 PWWG

Surround-sound and modern lighting controls help create an immersive experience. Lower level active learning classrooms increase flexibility and allow for greater student access.

Design Outcome: Probasco Auditorium is now a state-of-the-art lecture and presentation venue in a beautifully restored historic building. It meets UC’s operational standards for a 21st century learning environment. The new facility can be used by students from all academic programs, as well as performing arts such as plays and musical concerts while allowing for digital connection to other campuses and audiences throughout the world.