New buildings, renovations of old showcased at Kent State


Roslynn Porch, junior organizational communications shakes hands with Shannon Hamons, a staff member of the Hotel and Conference Center, on August 29th. The Hotel will open in the summer of 2013. Photo by Jacob Byk.

Carrie Blazina

University architects said some of the biggest changes on campus involve:

  • $80 million to add multidisciplinary research labs to at least one of the three science buildings, Cunningham Hall, Williams Hall and/or Smith Hall. $64 million of the funding comes from the bond, and another $16 million is from the state’s capital funding allocation.
  • A $40 million new building for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, which would be on the south side of the under-construction Esplanade extension. The building would be behind Starbucks at the intersection of Lincoln and Main streets.
  • $25 million to renovate and consolidate the six buildings the School of Art is currently using. The ceramics building would be torn down, and the school would be housed in two buildings. One of those buildings would be the Art Annex, and the other would be either Van Deusen or the Art Building. Whichever building would not be used for the School of Art would be at least partially torn down.
  • A $15 million new building for the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology, which would be located in the science corridor across from the nursing building.
  • $6 million in renovations to the Center for Undergraduate Studies, currently housed on the first floor of the Olson Hall/Lake Hall complex. The renovations would bring tutors and the Academic Success Center’s services to the Olson/Lake complex. Olson and Lake’s residence-hall areas would not be affected.

Kent State President Lester Lefton joined city, county and other university officials Wednesday in previewing several new buildings and renovations on campus to be completed in the coming years.

The projects — ranging from new restaurants downtown to a hotel for visitors to Kent to new buildings for colleges on campus — were showcased in the Kent Student Center Ballroom at the free event “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future.”

Lefton said the variety of projects will modernize Kent State and the area.

“We’re going to make every one of our eight campuses something that the 21st century should be, not what the 19th century was,” he said. “And Kent State is going to be an important part of our major regional renaissance.”

The projects are mostly funded by the $170 million in bonds approved this summer by the Kent State Board of Trustees. The designs and other project details still need to be voted on by the board at its Sept. 12 meeting, but media relations officials said the amount of money in the bond is set and will not change.


Four-fifths of the on-campus projects related to the bond are expected to be completed by 2015, according to officials at the event.

Thomas Euclide, associate vice president of facility planning and operations, said the university will start quickly to renovate and create buildings.

“Most of the architects for all the major buildings are already working on designs,” he said. “We have construction underway on some of the components of roof replacements and building repairs that are not glamourous, but needed.”

We call it a giant chess game; we’re moving pieces all over campus,” Bruder said. “Ideally, what we’re trying to do is move people once — renovate something, and move them there, and that’s their new home.”

Officials did not give a timeline for the science buildings’ renovations.

Students, officials react

Some students who attended the event seemed skeptical of where the money comes from but were excited about the ultimate result.

Corey Autry, a freshman pre-major in architecture, said although he’s sad to see Taylor Hall won’t be his program’s home anymore, he understands the logic behind the decision.

“We’re [currently] spread out … it’s a bit chaotic because I know a lot of students have to move back and forth a lot and carry projects and that kind of stuff,” Autry said. “So a new building, putting everything in one building, will be great.”

Autry said he was a little unhappy about paying the bond back.

“I won’t be too excited about my tuition being raised, because that’s most likely where it’s going to have to come from,” he said. “But I mean, if it’s bettering our education, I can live with it.”

The $170 million bond needs paid back over time. For fiscal year 2013, the amount the university needs to pay back is $11.5 million.

That money will be raised by:

  • Tuition. A 3 percent increase to the instructional fee component is scheduled, 1 percent ($2 million) of which would go toward paying back the bond.
  • The $440 fee for taking more than 17 credit hours, which is expected to raise $3.5 million.
  • Internal reallocations, which will free up $3 million.
  • Money set aside for building repairs and replacements, which is $3 million.

    SOURCE: Emily Vincent, university media relations director

Officials from affected programs said they were pleased with the changes.

Nielsen talks upcoming Athletic Department renovations separate from bond

Renovations to the locker rooms on the south side of the field house — not funded by $170 million bond — could be completed in the next couple of years, Athletic Director Joel Nielsen said.

“Right now our locker-room situation isn’t great … we’ve needed to do this for probably 15 years, and we have a lot of support right now,” he said.

Editors note: This article was updated August 30, 2012 at 10:46 a.m.

Contact Carrie Blazina at [email protected].