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  • Jessica Anshutz

Brutal Akron: Schrank Hall, University of Akron

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Schrank Hall at University of Akron was named for Harry P Schrank. Schrank did his undergrad at UA, majoring in chemistry. He attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, before moving into a rewarding career in the rubber industry. He was named to UA Board of Directors in 1946, and is the only man who served as chairman of both the municipal University Board of Directors (1961) and the State university’s Board of Trustees (1967).

When Schrank Hall was built, it was the second largest building on campus; the largest was the adjacent Norman P. Auburn Science and Engineering Center. Schrank Hall housed the two year Community and Technical College, as well as the ROTC program, and departments of Art and and Home Economics of the College of Fine and Applied Arts.

Description of the property from 1969:

The two-story rectangular section nearest Exchange Street surrounds an atrium, offering a garden view of both floors of the predominantly glass-walled classrooms and studios on three interior sides. On the north side of the two story structure is the second building- a 400-seat auditorium with entrances on the plaza level from the east or west or from the atrium in the interior center. The third structure is a five-story classroom and office tower, with four levels above the plaza and one below on the terrace level.

The terrace level features an open walkway leading from the intersection of Carroll and Sumner Streets. The walk extends to Exchange Street, along the terrace level parking deck below the two-level structure. The parking deck is screened with aluminum louvers and shaded by an overhead extension of the building on 15-foot cantilevers.

The plaza design, which helps to break up the vertical lines of the structure, produces a new second level for pedestrians above vehicular traffic moving through campus. From an arcade on plaza level, a walkway north spans Carroll Street and connects with the Auburn Center plaza.

One of the most striking exterior features of the building is the “Mayan Wall”, a concrete screen surrounding the auditorium building (which is now known as Schrank Hall South). Credit goes to the university’s own architect, Rudolph J. Tichy, formerly with the firm of Outcalt, Guenther, Rode and Bonebrake. Through the flexibility offered in pre-cast concrete, he designed a two-story facade with vertical and horizontal recesses, window-like openings, protruding solids, and flat surfaces in what appears to be a random pattern.

Architects: Outcalt-Guenther Partners

Gen Contractor: John J Ruhlin Construction Co.

Groundbreaking: 1967

277,174 sq ft

North 60,024 sq ft

South 217,150 sq ft

16 classrooms

40 labs and studios

88 faculty and admin offices

400 seat auditorium in south bldg

Dedication of Bldg: October 24, 1969

Photos at the top of the page taken by Jessica Anshutz- do not use without explicit permission (seriously, just send me an email). News clippings are from the Akron Beacon Journal.

(Special thanks to the University of Akron Archives and Special Collections for letting me spend an afternoon looking at all of this cool stuff!)

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