Team of professors wins state merit award for architecture

Lindsay Ridinger

Oakwood House addition garners prize for Kent firm

The American Institute of Architects Ohio Design Awards program recently honored Thom Stauffer Architects, a firm based in Kent, with a merit award for its work on the Oakwood House that was completed in June 2006.

Kent State architecture professor Thom Stauffer and his team, composed mostly of other university professors, designed a new addition for the Oakwood House, replacing the home’s collapsing garden room. They designed an entirely new kitchen as well.

Architects could submit entries under five categories, including recently completed buildings, additions and renovations; interior projects; urban design and high performance design projects. The entries must have been completed since January 2004.

Kate Brunswick, director of services for AIA Ohio, said the awards program received 88 submissions this year from more than 40 firms and individuals, but only nine entries received honor and merit titles, five of which came from Cleveland.

Thom Stauffer Architects worked on the project in their studio above The Works in downtown Kent for about nine months to a year. Stauffer said construction also lasted for about a year.

He said the team was highly collaborative with the owners of the house, Mark Schwartz and Bettina Katz, who reside there in Cleveland Heights. Schwartz and Katz can take credit for the durability of materials used, which Stauffer said he is most proud.

“For me, my favorite (aspect of the project) is how I feel when I’m in (the renovated) space,” Katz said. She said the finished product is what she hoped it would be: calming and visually uncluttered.

Stauffer said throughout the project, what the team was most attentive to was less about form but more about surface, material and detail.

“The most challenging (aspect) was during construction, to achieve the quality of material and surface detail (and to be) consistent,” he said.

The new sitting room is excavated 48 inches to provide an open view from the kitchen, through the sitting room addition and out into the garden and nearby golf course, Stauffer said. The renovated kitchen includes red maple cabinets and other stainless steel features.

Contact College of Technology reporter Lindsay Ridinger at [email protected].