CAED graduate students continue collaboration project

Adrian Leuthauser

Two Kent State graduate students in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, have been working on a semester-long project involving cities local and afar.

Despite the end nearing, Casey Poe and Lizz Weiss plan to continue the project over the summer.

Part of their project included going to Cuba’s capital, Havana, over spring break. They met with a Havana-based architectural firm in the hopes of collaborating with them and the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.

David Jurca, an architecture and environmental design faculty member who accompanied the students on the trip, works at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. He helped his students with their project.

“It (the project) focuses on two different sites; one is based in Cleveland and the other in Havana,” Jurca said. “We compared the two sites to provide an insight to both of the sites to see what was similar and what was different.”

One of the similarities that Jurca and the students found were that both of the sites had different limitations and challenges created by previous industrial uses and contamination.

“To clean up some of these contaminations, it would require a large financial investment,” Jurca said. “It would also require careful planning to ensure the safety and health of future inhabitants in both these sites.”

For the Havana site, the students are looking to connect the center of town into the site through an existing train line.

“With Havana, we are looking into a train line to connect a different neighborhood with the site and then with the center of Havana,” Poe said. “We are working off an existing rail line; part of it is in use still and the other half we are trying to get up and running again.”

This, however, will still be a difficult issue because of the typography surrounding the city and the site.

The Cleveland site that the students are trying to fix is tackling the issue of trying to connect the site to the waterfront. Other industrial buildings that don’t appeal to the public surround the site and the students want to be able to have a place that the public will want to come to.

“We are trying to connect the city and many others have looked at the spaces that haven’t been developed,” Weiss said. “We were hoping to make them either into parks or recreational trails and observatories.”

One of the proposals that the students came up with were to move the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway.

For the most part, the students had the Cleveland site under wraps; they just had to make some minor fixes. Unfortunately though, the site was demolished.

“We were all really passionate about the site,” Weiss said. “However, it was a reality we knew we would most likely have to face.”

Regardless of the hurdle, they moved on with their work in Havana and in Cleveland.

“The next step we intend to take is to get the students’ work published and the various findings that they had made throughout the course of the semester,” Jurca said. “We would then hope to share that information with the local Cleveland community, as well as the design community.”

Jurca and his students hope that, even after this project is finished, they will continue to build and grow partnerships with the communities in Havana and Cleveland.

“We want to, in the future, have Cuban designers work and join us here in the states,” Jurca said. “They could share their expertise with us.”

Jurca is also exploring opportunities for additional exchange programs in the future, though nothing is confirmed.

“We would like to continue those conversations between Havana and Cleveland,” Jurca said. “We would use the students’ initial work and research for a basis for continued collaboration.”

Adrian Leuthauser is the CAED reporter for The Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected].