Finalists reveal plans for new architecture building


One of four finalists presents his designs for the Architecture First Look competition in the University Auditorium in Cartwright Hall on Thursday, Jan. 17. The finalist were competing to design the new building for Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Photo by Chloe Hackathorn.

Anna Lemmon

The four finalists of the design competition for Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design presented their proposed designs to the community Thursday at Cartwright Hall.

“We told them some information that would shape the project in a way,” said Michael Bruder, director of design and construction at Kent State’s Office of the University Architect. “So, it had some preconceived notions that it has to be this big and has to sit here, but other than that we have not had any other visual ideas we anticipated from them.”

Each firm displayed its designs and explained the costs and sustainability of its proposed buildings. The estimates will be reviewed by independent sources, and then the selection committee will review the data and choose a winner.

Earlier in the day, they gave the same presentations to a selection committee.

The competition was held as part of Kent State’s “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future,” which is a four year plan to construct new buildings and upgrade facilities on campus to benefit students, staff and the Kent community.

Thirty-seven applicants applied to win the design contract.

The new architecture building will sit between Lincoln Street and Haymaker Parkway on the expanded Esplanade.

“This landmark location makes a strong statement on the inextricable link between our campus and the city we call home for more than a century,” President Lester Lefton said in his opening remarks. “Kent State wants to transform the lives of those who turn to us for an education.”

Currently the architecture offices, classrooms and studios are in three buildings: Taylor Hall, the MACC Annex and the rotunda of Tri-Towers. The new building, estimated at $40 million, will unite the program under one roof.

“We want something that fits into our campus and feels like a part of Kent State and part of the city of Kent,” Bruder said. “It should be really unique and beautiful and stand out in a positive way.”

The winner is expected to be announced in February.

The Proposed Designs:

Richard L. Bowen and Associates Inc. of Cleveland in association with Weiss/Manfredi of New York.

  • The design focuses on open spaces with no hidden offices or spaces; every student can see other students and faculty.
  • “The spaces that we work in shape us, and we are shaped by them,” said Marianne Weber, vice president of Richard L. Bowen and Associates Inc.

Bialosky and Partners Architects in association with Architecture Research Office of New York:

  • The design connects to other campus buildings visually, but is forward-looking.
  • “We seek a balanced building; one that is forward looking and elevated beyond a regular institutional building,” said Jack Bialosky Jr., senior principal of Bialosky and Partners Architects.

Westlake Reed Leskosky.

  • The design heavily involves interaction between all students and the Kent community, who can walk through the building and eat at the café.
  • “It has these opportunities for interaction, which are really at the heart of education today,” said Jonathan Kurtz, principal and lead designer of Westlake Reed Leskosky.

The Collaborative Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, in association with the Miller Hull Partnership of Seattle.

  • The design concentrates on having public space for the Kent community with a “connective tissue” throughout the building.
  • “Not only does it sort of tie in with the university in a visual way, but it also ties the city itself back into the building,” said Robert Hull, founding partner of Miller Hull Partnership of Seattle.

For more information about the designs, visit

Contact Anna Lemmon at [email protected].