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Where we work: Historic Orton Lab

Heading down Summit Street, you might have noticed a Late 19th and 20th Century Classical Revival structure at the intersection of E. 8th Avenue. Set back from the street and raised above the roadway, the orange brick building stands in strong contrast to the surrounding housing stock. Greek columns frame the golden doorway, etched with “Ad Argilla, Ad Argillam”—a Latin phrase roughly translating into “From Clay, to Clay.” The words pay tribute to the building’s original use as a manufacturing facility for pyrometric cones, used to measure the interior temperature of kilns.

Image by Ryan Hillyer

Listed on the Columbus Register of Historic Properties and the National Register of Historic Places, the laboratory building was built in 1929 as the headquarters for the Standard Pyrometric Cone Company. The founder of that company and the building’s namesake was Edward Orton, Jr., son of the first president of The Ohio State University. The architect of record is also notable–Howard Dwight Smith, a professor at OSU and campus architect from 1929 through 1956, most famous for his design of Thompson Library and Ohio Stadium. The rehabilitation project, started in 2013 by building owner/tenant ACUHO-I, focused on retaining and repairing as many original features .


The Neighborhood Design Center moved into the space in December 2016, occupying the third floor. Flooded with sunlight, the space is open and communal with a location that is close enough to campus to allow students to walk or bike and provides easy access for visitors. An open house in April showcased the space to friends of NDC and we look forward to hosting more events here in the future!


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