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Ohio State Announces Mirror Lake Restoration

Ohio State University
An design rendering of the proposed Mirror Lake District, which is slated to reopen in spring 2018.

Ohio State University announced on Tuesday that it will be undergoing a restoration of historic Mirror Lake.  The 18-month renovation will restore wetlands to the lakeshore and include renovations to nearby buildings.

Standing near the lake, WOSU’s Sam Hendren spoke today with OSU associate vice president Keith Myers about the upcoming renovations.

Click the play button below to hear their conversation.

The below transcript is an automated transcript. Please excuse minor typos and errors.

Sam Hendren: Mirror Lake is one of the loveliest places on campus. Can you describe briefly what for listeners what you see at the moment?

Keith Myers: It's a very bucolic landscape you know set into a small hollow that the landscape really is a remnant of the original Neil Farm, where you know Ohio State was established in 1870.

Sam Hendren: How will the view change when the renovation or restoration is complete?

Keith Myers: Well I think that the lake will be even more beautiful.... The lake has changed a number of times. There's been four major renovations and each time the lake shape has changed fairly significantly. And I think where we're going to end up is in a configuration that is much closer to some of the original configurations of Mirror Lake. 

Mirror Lake originally did not have a hard bottom or hard edges. It was a natural pond or lake set into the hollow. And in the renovation of the lake in 1926, and later in 1935 brick was added to the bottom of it and the hard edges were installed in some of the walls and things. So for much of its early life it was it was a very natural-looking pond or lake, and that's what we're looking to restore for a number of reasons, sustainability being a key one.

Sam Hendren: And sustainability, I mean, I know the lake has had issues over the years with a tremendous water bill, and water from the city draining away. That is part of the sustainability issue.

Keith Myers: Part of that, yes, we addressed some of that a couple of years ago when we installed a well to provide makeup water to the lake. That's one step in its evolution into a more sustainable plan. But equally as important, when the lake is reconfigured and restored there will be a natural wetland edge around the edge of the lake that will help treat storm water prior to its release back into the river.

Sam Hendren: Now, planning for the Mirror Lake Historic District has been in the works for quite a while, hasn't it?

Keith Myers: That's correct. Over two years ago, we held a well-attended charrette, about 200 people, to begin to discuss ways to modify the lake. We knew that other building projects were going to be going on in the area, most notably Pomerene renovation that was going to significantly impact the site area around the edges of Mirror Lake, and we felt like it was a good time to try and re-envision the lake's future.

Sam Hendren: The renovation-restoration as you indicate is not only the lake and the surrounding area but the buildings in that area. Is that correct?

Keith Myers: That's correct. Pomerene Hall is to be renovated, Oxley Hall is being renovated as well as the Browning Amphitheater will undergo some renovations, so there's a series of projects all happening in this area which make this an opportune time to re-envision the lake.

Sam Hendren: And has a price tag been put on the restoration-renovation project?

Keith Myers: It has not. We have a lot of work to do to get into the design…. There's a lot of investigation into soils. We'd like to salvage much of the material for reuse. There's a lot of initial work to be done prior to getting to a design that we can begin to put cost to.

Sam Hendren: Mr. Myers, I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.