The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation of Cincinnati, Ohio, will give a $3 million grant to Centre College to support the renovation and expansion of Franklin W. Olin Hall, home to chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics and physics, along with Centre’s newest program in data science, which will offer both a major and minor beginning fall of 2019.
The expansion will be named the Austin E. Knowlton Center for Science and Mathematics. Construction is set to begin this summer, just after the College’s 196th Commencement exercises, scheduled for May 19.
“The benefit that this project will provide to our academic offerings is momentous,” said Centre President John Roush. “And the Knowlton Foundation can be assured that this significant gift will have a positive impact for good for generations to come.”
While the Knowlton Foundation has supported similar projects on liberal arts college campuses in Ohio, this grant is the first of its size in Kentucky. It is also not Knowlton’s first grant to Centre. The Austin E. Knowlton Memorial Scholarship, which provides a $5,000 scholarship each year to at least five students from Ohio in Mr. Knowlton’s honor, was created in 2013.
Omni Architects of Lexington, Kentucky, is providing the designs for the project, which was identified as an immediate need in the College’s recently completed Campus Master Plan created in partnership with Hastings+Chivetta.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Leonard Demoranville is the project shepherd for the Olin renovation and expansion.
In an update to College trustees at their recent spring meeting, held April 11-12, he explained that the design represents a significant revamping of the building originally constructed in 1988. In addition to new and expanded classrooms and new and renovated lab spaces, the project includes seven new offices. In total the project will add approximately 11,700 square feet, along with 4,700 in a basement shell, augmenting the existing 32,400 square feet.
Based on data from the 2010 renovation of Young Hall, Centre’s other science facility, that showed an increase in STEM-related student-faculty collaborative research, Demoranville anticipates a similar uptick fostered by the additional space and facilities in Olin and the Knowlton Center.
Knowlton Foundation trustee Robert Pitcairn added, “the Knowlton Foundation is very happy to support Centre College in this most worthwhile project. It is something that Mr. Knowlton would have been proud to be part of.”
Austin E. Knowlton was the owner and chairman of the Knowlton Construction Company of Bellefontaine, Ohio, and earned his bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from The Ohio State University in 1931.
Under Knowlton’s leadership, the company was responsible for more than 600 major construction projects throughout Ohio and the Midwest, including school buildings, hospitals, libraries and post offices.
by Michael Strysick
April 22, 2019
Above photo: One of several conceptual designs currently under review.