KSU Hotel’s design charrette aimed at redefining lobby

Lily Martis

The Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center teamed up with the School of Interior Design on Sat., Jan. 18 at a day- long Design Charrette to correct identity problems faced by the hotel. Approximately 72 fourth-year and second-year interior design majors and faculty members participated in the Charrette in hopes of better defining the hotel’s identity in the restaurant and lobby area.

According to Lawrence Carter, KSU Hotel and Conference Center asset manager, “guests have expressed the need to better define the hotel’s identity and enhance the warm, welcoming feel of the hotel, lounge and restaurant all being grouped into one lobby. This will be the gateway not only between the university and the town, but also between our students and showcasing their talents and the faculty’s talents as well.”

The Design Charrette was a one-day creative process where students could look at the hotel’s problems with identity and community perception and come up with quick design concepts to help address the issues, which will be honed into executable plans. During the first half of the Charrette, professionals offered insight and input on how the hotel space is currently being used and what they would like to see in the future. The second half of the event allowed students to draw up sketches and flip charts that would later be presented to the Kent State Foundation.

“Where most interior design projects are theoretical and worked on as individuals, the Charrette allows fourth year, second year and professionals to collaborate with a give-and-take approach to learn from each other,” senior interior design major Kristen Sutton said.

The 6-month old hotel has kept Kent State interior design students involved from the beginning. Last fall, the students toured the hotel space and now are contributing to the redefined layout of the hotel’s first floor lobby.

Marissa Agostinelli, senior interior design major said, “The process of seeing the hotel being created from the ground up has allowed us to see this project all the way through in a way we never would have been able to in a classroom setting.”

By seeking the input of fourth-and second-year interior design students, William Willoughby, associate dean of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, said, this unique collaboration provides a feeling of mentorship within the Interior Design program.

CAED Associate Director Wiley Runnestrand was glad to see students involved in the process. 

“Involving students and getting them experience outside the classroom is fantastic,” Runnestrand said. 

The future of the hotel holds plans to bring art and music into the redefined space as a way to engage students and strengthen the connection between the town and the university.

Contact Lily Martis at [email protected].