Energy Envelope

Columbus, Ohio / United States of America

The OSU South Campus Chiller is an iconic marker at a major campus entry.  Conceived of as a “house for energy”, the LEED Silver building showcases energy-efficient equipment while recording the sun’s energy on the exterior.  Glazed openings are located to frame views of the equipment, and dichroic glass fins and boxes change color with the sun’s movement, casting color-changing shadows onto modular, polished precast concrete panels.

The dichroic fins made of laminated glass with a plastic interlayer and dichroic film, creates a color change on the façade.  The sizes of the fins are 3 x 5 feet, easing the fabrication and installation process.  A bracket system holds the glass in place and prevents rotation.

To enhance the colors radiating from the fins, the panels are polished to a high gloss sheen and provide a maintenance free, durable surface minimizing staining and streaking.  The panel variations were minimized to reduce the cost of production:  the 200 panels used required only 11 types.  Panel sizes were also limited to accelerate their transportation to the site and installation.

The result is a dynamic façade, the ‘energy envelope’, which changes with the time of day, season and the location of the observer.

Architect of Record

Ross Barney Architects

Associate Architect

Champlin Architecture


The Ohio State University

General Contractor

Whiting Turner


  • Lupton Rausch
  • RMF Engineering
  • Shelly Metz Baumann Hawk