Architecture grad students move to Playhouse Square

Lindsay Ridinger

Cleveland program puts projects in hands of budding architects

Amidst the health care debate of President Barack Obama’s administration, Kent State students had the opportunity this past summer to research another Obama initiative – a high-speed rail system – through a graduate program in Cleveland.

“We worked in groups to figure out how to get people interested (in a high-speed rail network),” said Lilly Russell, a Kent State graduate student working on her master’s degree in architecture and urban design.

She said Americans are not very interested in trains as a means of transportation. However, a rail system that would connect Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Detroit, and then establish an ending point in Chicago, is in the works. Russell said this system would make the cities’ relatively new facilities more accessible for events.

In addition to researching the high-speed rail system, Kent State architecture graduate students have gained skilled experience by working with the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative on other projects through the Cleveland program.

Christopher Diehl, director of the CUDC and associate professor of the College of Architecture, said the graduate program has existed since 1999. Through this program, students and staff do professional work for clients in the Cleveland area.

“We are the Cleveland collaborative between the college and the practice (of architecture),” Diehl said. He said the CUDC acts as a clinical outreach for the College of Architecture students.

Twenty-four Kent State students are now working with the CUDC at its current location on Prospect Avenue in Cleveland, but Diehl said since the lease expired this year, the CUDC is moving into a renovated building in Playhouse Square.

“It’s crucial to have a strong platform,” Diehl said.

Moving locations will save the CUDC about $100,000 each year, and Diehl said the renovated building will have a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification standard, which enhances an overall sustainable design. He said the building will be energy efficient with its lighting, heating and cooling systems as well.

The Playhouse Square location will eventually accommodate 36 students in a 14,000-square-foot space. In addition to expanding the academic program, Diehl said he hopes students will bring more energy to the new area by utilizing its creative aspects, shopping and restaurant options.

“I’ve enjoyed (the program) so far,” Russell said. Students are connected with the architecture world through the program in Cleveland.

David Maniet, also a Kent State graduate student in the architecture program, enjoys the professional atmosphere of working in Cleveland as well.

“(The CUDC) gives us the opportunity to have jobs and internships right down the street,” he said. The American Institute of Architects headquarters resides in Cleveland as well.

Russell and Maniet said they have spent one semester of undergraduate school and one semester of graduate school studying abroad in Italy, which is an additional opportunity available to architecture students.

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