Risman Plaza area to double in size soon

Jessica White

The Risman Plaza area will double in size next year, Tom Euclide, associate vice president for facility planning and operation said.

Construction for a new “student green” in front of Risman Plaza will begin in the spring of 2011, Euclide said, and is expected to be finished by fall of the same year.

The green will be directly in front of Risman Plaza and stretch to Summit Street. As hinted by its name, the green will be mostly grass, but will also have a performance stage, clock tower and several sidewalks connecting the space to Risman Plaza.

University Architect Michael Bruder said landscapers will shape the lawn with a gradual slope to create a natural, outdoor amphitheater. The clock tower will stand on the performance stage and a wall reading “Kent State University” will face Summit Street.

The construction will cost about $3.5 million. Bruder said the plan is not part of the $250 million campus wide renovation proposal that is waiting for approval from the Ohio Board of Regents.

The green will replace Risman Drive, where buses pull into the bus stop, and cut off 25 to 50 parking spaces of the current 400 in the visitor lot in front of the Student Center, Bruder said. But he also said they may try to expand the lot on the opposite side.

He said he’s working on a road reconstruction plan that will convert the west intersection of Summit Street and Risman Drive, where the buses currently exit, into a major entrance and exit for the bus stop and visitor parking.

Bruder said the traffic design is the only part of the plan that isn’t complete.

“It’s a very busy place,” he said. “The last thing we want to do is make the traffic flow worse. We want to make it very efficient, but still attractive.”

He also said the city of Kent is planning to redesign Summit Street in 2013, so the architects’ office is working closely with city officials to make sure the two plans won’t conflict.

Euclide said the idea for the green originated about two years ago. He said his office looked at key places on campus and spaces in between buildings that could be converted into more comfortable areas.

“Risman Plaza was one of them,” he said. “We decided we needed to add more green rather than big paved areas.”

He also said the green will give visitors and passersby a look into the university from the street.

“The one thing missing in the design of Risman is a way for our visitors to see it. You basically have to come into the center of campus to get a look,” he said. “By extending the student green down to Summit Street, it gives a much greater visibility to this key point in the campus.”

Bruder said a lot of universities have defining outdoor spaces that anchor their entire campus, and Kent State doesn’t quite have that.

“I think this is going to provide that,” he said. “I’m excited about it.”

He said it will be a great recruitment asset to the university and a great hangout spot for current students.

Contact Jessica White at [email protected].