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Ohio State Looks To Mirror Lake's Future, Two Years After Student Death

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

The long-held tradition of jumping in to Mirror Lake the Tuesday before the Ohio State-Michigan game came to an abrupt halt in 2015, where one student died from injuries sustained during the lake jump. 

Last year, the university started construction on the area, and this year, the re-development continues, with a finish date of summer 2018.  

Lynn Readey, Ohio State's associate vice president of facilities operations and development, says the $8.5 million project is a re-development of not just the lake but the surrounding area.

“The lake is one part of the whole Mirror Lake District area," Readey says. "The district area includes renovations to three buildings in the area.”

The Browning Amphitheater, an open air assembly location, is being redone along with Oxley and Pomerene Halls. The lake itself will be altered, but not removed entirely.

Before this renovation, the lake was brick-lined and concrete-edged, but Readey says the re-development will return it to a more natural and sustainable state. 

Credit Ohio State University
Updated plans for Mirror Lake, which will no longer feature a stone and concrete liner, were approved by Ohio State trustees this June.

“Ironically, if you look at the history of the lake development there from 1870 forward, the reconfiguration of the lake is going to make it much closer to what it once was," she says.

The new lake will be about four feet deep, and it will include a drain that can empty the lake in less than an hour. Readey says she can’t forecast whether the Michigan Week lake jump tradition will resume.

“I can say that the configuration of the lake, you know, will change," Readey says. "For example, there will be more gradual sloping down to the lake area itself. It will have a clay bottom. It will have a more consistent depth across it. All of which, I think, will contribute to safety.”

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.