Risman Plaza opens, construction continues

Nick Glunt

Students could take their first strolls across the newly renovated Risman Plaza on Thursday after construction crews spent all summer preparing for student arrival.

Earlier this month, University Architect Michael Bruder said it would be ready by the time classes start, “but not much before.”

Fences still stand surrounding small areas where construction continues. But the general path and seating areas are opened for use.

Bruder has said since June that the plaza will require detail work and landscaping until early October, by which time he said the entire project would be complete.

Risman Plaza has seen many changes since last semester. The concrete fountain and brick paving were removed. In their place, new paving and a circular lawn have been added, as well as a new seating area and a new fountain.

Bruder said the university conducted research to find the most-walked paths in the plaza to be sure they would build no obstructions.

The project is part of the university’s campus-wide $200 million renovations plan. Bruder said they are on track with the $2.8 million plaza facelift budget.

President Lester Lefton has said the goal of this plan is to attract and retain students by making the campus more visually appealing.

“I like it. It looks a lot nicer,” said Grace Schottelkotte, freshman photo illustration major. She visited the campus on a tour in the spring and again for orientation. “I mean, before when the fountain was there it was mostly concrete.”

Patty Logiudice, the mother of an incoming freshman, said the construction was just beginning the last time they were at Kent State.

“It’s beautiful,” Logiudice said. “They’ve come a long way since that weekend we were here.”

Not everybody was happy with the result of the summer construction, however.

“It’s OK,” said Scott Kazakis, senior computer science major. “There are more flowers than seats…There are these patches of grass and it’s just like, what is that?”

Other summer projects

Bruder’s office was busy with more than just Risman Plaza this summer.

The entrance and first floor of the Campus Library have been renovated.

A swooping structure has been added to make the entrance look more modern, Lefton has said. There is also a new vestibule entrance area as well as added lighting, Bruder said.

“It’s really bright and airy,” Bruder said. “Before you go in, remember what it looked like before. I think the difference is just striking.”

Furthermore, the bus stop by the plaza has been torn down, with a new bus stop built into the side of the KIVA nearest Risman Drive.

“I like the new bus stop,” said Dexter Collins, sophomore computer science major. “The old one was just kind of a box.”

Other lower-profile projects were also in the works, including bathroom renovations in McDowell Hall.