Fashion School to expand into Terrace Hall

Isabel Kiefer

Rockwell Hall’s large, open atrium may be an architectural spectacle and symbol but to 2017 fashion design graduate Toni Lumpkin, it was a temporary work space.

“We’d go to the second-floor atrium,” Lumpkin said. “We’d go to each other’s houses if someone had a sewing machine.”

Lumpkin recalled moving her patterns and projects into the atrium and across campus when classes were taking place and studios were full.  

“It was kinda cramped all the time,” Lumpkin said. “We worked around it, but it was kinda ‘eh’.”

According to J.R. Campbell, the Fashion School’s director, the school is seeing enormous enrollment growth, particularly in the past four to five years. Campbell said the Fashion School expects enrollment to exceed 1,900 students for the upcoming semester.

Although Rockwell Hall is known for its elaborate architecture and prime spot on the corner of front campus, Campbell said the building only allows for around 30,000 square feet of space for educational use. This number includes the atrium but not the museum.

On May 31, the Board of Trustees approved $2.7 million in renovations to the second floor of Terrace Hall for the Fashion School.

Terrace Hall’s renovations come as a recommendation for more work space for students following the National Association of Schools of Art and Design’s renewal of the school’s accreditation.

“There’s always feedback, things they want you to work on,” said William Hauck, fashion merchandising and design assistant professor. “In 2016, their feedback was students need access to these facilities outside of class.”

Despite overcrowding, the school is not at risk of losing its accreditation, Hauck said.

Campbell said he is pleased about the rapid enrollment growth but concerned about the school’s ability to provide resources to a larger student population.

“We’re so affected with scheduling, that there is potentially not enough unscheduled time for students to work outside of class,” Campbell said.

The growth the school was experiencing almost lead to an acceptance cap, Campbell said.

“The Provost’s Office said they would support the cost, but we couldn’t stop admittance,” Campbell said.

Lumpkin said her time at the fashion school was amazing, but she started to feel the need for space as she neared senior year.

“You’re restricted trying to get your stuff done in Rockwell,” Lumpkin said. “We need table space, room for our patterns, sewing machines.”

Hauck explained that students nearing graduation, like Lumpkin, felt the consequences of limited space primarily due to the record number of incoming freshmen and sophomores.

“What we’re doing with the Terrace Hall space is we’re moving a lot of freshmen and sophomore classes there,” Hauck said.

Michael Bruder, the University Architect’s executive director of facilities planning and design, said the multi-million-dollar project includes four studio spaces, several offices and a conference room.

“There will be studio space for 80 fashion students to work at design desks,” Bruder said. “It’s primarily a singular, large, open space.”

Rockwell Hall houses the Fashion School, but fashion students currently take classes in six different buildings across campus. Campbell said his hope for Terrace Hall is that it fulfills the needs the school has that Rockwell Hall can’t satisfy.

“We are having the space renovated to meet our needs very specifically,” Campbell said.

Campbell wanted the Terrace Hall space to be a unique, open layout to encourage collaboration and learning between students.

Lumpkin said if a space like Terrace Hall existed when she was a student, it would’ve been easier to get her work done.

“There was classes going on all the time,” Lumpkin said. “It differs, but sometimes we would work eight to midnight after classes.”

Lumpkin, though enthusiastic about the renovations, felt that moving freshmen and sophomore students away from Rockwell could affect their experiences as new students.

“I think it’ll still be awesome, but freshmen and sophomores should be able to experience being in the Fashion School,” Lumpkin said.

Campbell said the Fashion School has been feeling the effects of growing pains for several years. There have been plans to start a campaign to raise funds to expand Rockwell Hall. A new lecture hall and additional studios have been proposed but not confirmed.

“(Rockwell) was designed with the idea that there would be a student population of 250 students,” Campbell said. “We need room for more than double that.”

Though Terrace Hall will provide some relief from overcrowding, Campbell said, class scheduling will still be difficult.

“It’s sort of like the Tetris of scheduling,” Campbell said.

Hauck, who is responsible for the school’s scheduling, said students always come first when creating the schedule of classes.

“Our first priority is to make sure the schedule works for the students,” Hauck said. “We never design a schedule based on other needs like faculty or staff needs.”

Lumpkin said she never felt behind or feared being unable to take the necessary courses to graduate.

“They’re really generous with their classes,” Lumpkin said. “I never really had any problems scheduling.”

With continued growth expected, Campbell expects to stay in Terrace Hall for some time, however the space may not be a permanent location for the Fashion School.

“There’s a heavy demand for space,” Campbell said. “It’s a great option to stay there long-term.”

The school has been moving entry-level courses across campus, Hauck said, but Terrace Hall will hopefully fix the constant relocation.

“The places we’ve been relocated to in the past few years have served us, but we can’t keep moving our studios around,” Hauck said.

Bruder said they are renovating the space as if it will be a permanent space for the school.

“We just started talking in February, we started demolition in April,” Bruder said. “(The Fashion School’s) incoming class is anticipated to be larger than normal.”

Bruder said the second floor of Terrace Hall had been used as a temporary space for the Center for Visual Arts and textile students over the past several years. The renovated space will provide an extra 10,000 square feet for fashion students.

Campbell said he is proud of the opportunities that Kent State provide as a public university with a world-renowned fashion school. He also said he hopes to continue to grow resources on campus to provide for students.

“We’re in a strong position at Kent State to have a fashion school,” Campbell said.

Isabel Kiefer is the dining, housing, and DKS reporter. Contact her at [email protected].