OhioHealth Neuroscience Wellness Center

Architecture firm:  Gensler

Owner: OhioHealth

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Category: A

Project site: Not previously developed

Building program type(s): Healthcare - outpatient - general

In medicine, neurological disorders present the most challenging treatment protocols, requiring care that stretches beyond clinical options to a focus on quality of life and enhanced support for individuals and their support network. This new center in Columbus delivers that care in a first-of-its-kind freestanding facility that is a beacon of resiliency and community spirit.

Designed to uplift and inspire, the OhioHealth Neuroscience Wellness Center sits adjacent to a forested wetland on the perimeter of the health system’s Riverside Methodist Hospital campus. The interdisciplinary center’s programs serve people living with significant conditions like stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Its modest architecture, unusual for such an active major medical campus, prioritizes the surrounding landscape and access to daylight.

Initially led by the pioneering Dr. Janet Bay, the 13th female neurosurgeon in the United States, the center’s design began in 2017 with a series of workshops and visioning sessions comprising users, community members, and administrators. The process helped the team identify the appropriate site on OhioHealth’s campus, which informed the overall concept and sustainable approach. With a light touch on the land, the center hinges on orientation, planning, and a targeted facade design that maximizes daylight through the efficient building envelope. Site and program work in concert to drive movement and light through the building, a strategy that bolsters universal access.

On the exterior, a mix of contextually driven materials allows the center to fit with the surrounding buildings and its forest context. Masonry and a sustainably harvested hardwood facade marry the manmade and the natural, strengthening the connection between the building and its landscape.

“The building expression and siting of the center are absolutely wonderful, and it clearly addresses the needs of the clientele it’s serving. It also captures the idea of beauty so well, and who doesn’t want to play outside all the time?” - Jury comment

Inside, the center hinges on movement, and its architecture allows people of all abilities to experience and move in harmony with nature. Its program includes wellness and exercise studios with overhead harnessing for additional balance support, a quiet studio for mind-body classes, a geriatric clinic, a cafe, multipurpose fitness rooms, and administrative workspace. Throughout the spaces, the team paid careful attention to frictionless design considerations, which include intuitive wayfinding and subtle transitions that better suit those living with neurological challenges.

Organized around a central courtyard and hearth, each of the center’s programs expresses a unique identity. The courtyard is also wrapped with an interior walking track that offers tree-top views and further access to wellness studios that overlook the nearby forest to the south and learning and support spaces to the north. A network of nature trails and outdoor spaces further connect the center to the surrounding forest and wetlands, an amenity for the OhioHealth community as well as residents in surrounding neighborhoods.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of substantial project completion: 2021

Gross conditioned floor area:  25,300 sq. ft.

Project team

Engineer - Civil: Evans, Mechwart, Hambleton, & Tilton, Inc.

Engineer - MEP: BR+A

Engineer - Structural: Rubinos & Mesia Engineers, Inc.

Medical Equipment: Walsh Consulting

General Contractor: Whiting-Turner

Landscape Architect: Evans, Mechwart, Hambleton, & Tilton, Inc.


Eurico Francisco, AIA, (Chair), Perkins&Will, Dallas

Asia Allen, AIA, Gresham Smith, Nashville, Tenn.

Walter Jones, AIA, Campus Transformation at the MetroHealth System, Cleveland

Ashley Mulhall, AIA, Orcutt | Winslow, Phoenix

Akshay Sangolli, AIA, Page Southerland Page, Inc., Denver

Molly M. Scanlon, FAIA, Univ of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Coronado, Calif.

Image credits

OhioHealth Neuroscience Wellness Center-03

James Steinkamp Photography

OhioHealth Neuroscience Wellness Center-04

James Steinkamp Photography

OhioHealth Neuroscience Wellness Center-05

James Steinkamp Photography

OhioHealth Neuroscience Wellness Center-06

James Steinkamp Photography

OhioHealth Neuroscience Wellness Center-07

James Steinkamp Photography