Pearson Hall, built in 1985, was part of Miami’s expansion of new academic buildings. Well after it was built, in 2008, Miami University installed a plaza outside of the hall. Running through the greenery, shrubbery and benches is a sidewalk designed to look like a DNA helix. Since the building is home to the biological sciences, this readily recognizable symbol perfectly fits into what is being taught inside the building. As the strips of sidewalk intertwine, there are large sections of greenery fitted into the open sections. The sidewalks runs through the space between Pearson Hall and the new School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Building, uniting the dissimilar geometries of the buildings with a creative and unique design.
Pearson Hall was named after the 18th president of Miami University, Dr. Paul G. Pearson. Dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 1 of 1986, this building is meant to stand as a reminder of the hard work and dedication that Pearson put into running Miami University. Pearson began his duties as president on July 1, 1981 and he served as president for more than 11 years before retiring in 1992. As president, he added several new buildings to Miami’s campus in his efforts to increase the amount of academic buildings available to students. Because of the growth of Miami University, it became necessary to expand the campus to fit all of the classes that students were taking. Because of his love of zoology, it became clear that the Biological Sciences Building should be dedicated to him.
In 2008, Miami University hired the firm 360 Architects for the addition of this plaza to Pearson Hall, and MKSK Designs came up with the idea for the plaza. A small group out of Columbus, MKSK Designs is a firm that has come up with several other innovative and special works for urban places. Most of their work is done within Ohio, and in larger social settings, such as urban places and college campuses. Several of their most prominent pieces were done for The Ohio State University as part of their work on the campus’ landscape master plan. Their knowledge of how to manipulate campus landscaping to work for students and their needs came through in their design for the plaza, and their brilliant design for the sidewalk, paying homage to the activities that are tied to Pearson Hall. For their design, they received the 2009 Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (OCASLA) Honor Award. Many of the students move through this space on a daily basis and it is a nice break from the cookie cutter sidewalks
bordered by the red brick of the carbon copy buildings.