Architecture students experience hands-on field work

Josh Yager

Six students from Kent State’s architecture program are experiencing an 8-week, hands-on approach to construction by working with a design and build studio in Cleveland.

Chris Maurer, adjunct architecture professor at Kent State, and six of his students are working for St. Clair Superior Development Corporation to further develop part of a Cleveland neighborhood. 

The Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, a combined project of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and Kent State’s urban design graduate program, raised the money to do the improvements, Maurer said.

“The CUDC gave a presentation on what the neighborhood was like,” he said. “These students took that information and basically had to invent a client for who to sell the house to, who will live here and who we can actually attract to this neighborhood.”

Maurer said the students participating in the program are getting college credit as well as gaining experience and hours for their intern development program. They also have to do a certain amount of hours to become licensed architects in the future, he said.

Maurer said he is hoping projects like this, which show compassion and are in the public interest, will attract more females to the architecture programs. 

“We wanted to introduce more folks into the construction trades,” Maurer said. “We wish in future sections there will be more women in the program. It’s really about how things get put together more than…swinging sledgehammers.”

Kyle Matheny, senior architecture major, said he takes pride in helping out the neighborhood and it makes him feel really good about himself.

“When we came for the site visit, a lot of people around here were happy to see us doing this,” he said.  “They said there is no place for this neighborhood to go but up.”

Matheny said the building the students are working on is a two family house. The students are turning it into a loft with a more open floor plan.

“The demo was stress relieving and fun,” he said. “Just smashing everything and ripping stuff out was a good time and we all had fun with it.”

Lucas Rhoades, senior architecture major, said it’s a really good experience to see how buildings are constructed.

“You have to roll with the punches to see what you’re working with. It’s good to see the neighborhood firsthand to see the people we’re benefitting,” Rhoades said. “We’re hoping to get some people back into these vacant houses. I hope this program continues.” 

Maurer said the house will be sold upon completion of the project and any profits from the sale will be used for future projects in the area.

Contact Josh Yager at [email protected].