Kent State urban design project moves locations

Alyssa DeGeorge

The organization is a collaborative project between Kent State’s architecture graduate program in urban design and the Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio, according to its website.

The group relocated in February from the Pointe Building on Prospect Avenue, where Steve Rugare, assistant professor of architecture and environmental design, said they stayed for 10 years.

“This space gives us the flexibility for room to grow,” said Terry Schwarz, the director of the CUDC.

The new building has room for 36 students, opposed to the 24 spots at the previous location, Schwarz said.

The location in the heart of Cleveland is convenient for students and gives the CUDC an opportunity to interact better with clients, as well as to provide an environment that is conducive to creativity, said Douglas Steidl, dean of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

“It’s a fun space to be in,” Steidl said.

President Lester Lefton spoke at the opening of the reception about Kent State’s dedication to providing students with appropriate spaces for their studies.

“We are committed to having facilities that match the aspirations of our students,” Lefton said.

Students can earn the same master’s degree at the Kent campus, but focus on urban design at the CUDC, Rugare said.

Students participating in the CUDC take all of their classes at the location in Cleveland. The most recent student project of the CUDC is focused to redesign the innerbelt bridge with attention to the way it affects the neighborhoods surrounding it, said Mitch Hoyt, first-year graduate student who is earning his Master’s of Architecture.

He said their projects focus on all aspects that affect the lives of residents in the area, including community development, transportation, zoning and infrastructure.

“Urban design is the fabric of the city,” Hoyt said.

Steidl said urban design deals with the big picture of making a city more sustainable and a better place to live.

“The goal is to be an effective player in the long-term health in cities,” Steidl said.

Many professionals in the collaborative project serve both clients and students, acting as professionals in their field and as professors for the university.

Schwarz said this gives students a look into the real world and offers them the opportunity to build relationships in the community.

“We give them this kind of window for design practice,” she said.

Hoyt said the professional environment helps him work better.

“Your mentality immediately focuses, where at Kent, I felt it hard to get focused,” he said.

With fresh students coming in every year, Schwarz said the staff of the Urban Design Center also benefit from the collaborative.

“They really provide the energy behind what we do,” she said.

The Urban Design Center is currently working on projects such as the Cleveland Rowing Foundation and vacancy issues in Cleveland.

“It’s just a wonderful group of people trying to do wonderful things for people,” Steidl said.

–Alyssa DeGeorge