Architecture speaker challenges students to think of the community’s future

Chelsea Graff

How do you define community? This was the question posed by Matt Schmidt, a Kent State graduate, during his lecture, Defining Community, at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative on Friday.

“What is a community? It’s a place to live, its society,” said Matt Schmidt, an architect and city planner for The Trust for Public Land. “It’s the people that you interact with everyday. They make up the world you live in and rely on.”

The lecture was part of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design’s Alumni lecture series.

Schmidt said his message was for people to question: What do you support that supports you personally?

Using architecture projects that he has seen and worked on that go into communities, Schmidt said he tries to apply these questions to his work.

Terry Schwarz, the director of the CUDC, said they host a lecture series every semester but this is the first time they’ve had an alumni lecture series.

“We wanted to have the alumni come back because this is our 15th anniversary,” Schwarz said. “We wanted our former students to come back and talk about what they’ve been doing since. Some of our alums work in traditional architecture practice, some work, as Matt does, more in the planning realm.”  

Schmidt talked about his time as a student at Kent State and how he has applied his work there to his professional work. He compared designing for a community to a cake: Some things can look really great but if you taste it and it doesn’t taste good then no one wants it.

Besides drawing from the past, Schmidt said thinking of the future is also important when it comes to city planning and architecture.

“The least financially stable county today will be in better shape than the most financially stable county in 2040 if we keep developing the way we are,” Schmidt said.

The alumni lecture series will continue on Nov. 21 at noon with Carmen Strauchon who will present “Transforming the Retail Experience.”

Contact Chelsea Graff at [email protected].