Risman Plaza ready for renovations

Allison Smith

Construction begins after 2010 graduation

The renovation of Risman Plaza is set to begin the day after graduation in 2010. The new design is said to give the plaza a softer, warmer look. Brittany Ankrom | Summer Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

At the June 4 Board of Trustees meeting, President Lester Lefton announced plans to give the Risman Plaza a facelift.

Lefton said the plaza is highly traveled and he wants to make it more aesthetically pleasing to students.

“We want to give the plaza a softer, warmer look,” he said. “More inviting, more gathering spaces for students and faculty to talk. For young people to gather, meet, date, do what young people do.”

Lefton said construction would begin the day after graduation in 2010, and he is hopeful it will conclude before homecoming of the same year.

Gregg Floyd, vice president for finance and administration, said the plaza is very dated in terms of its style.

“Frankly, it is in the judgment of at least this administration, not something that is as inviting and embracing to student gathering and programming as it ought to be,” Floyd said.

He said they want something that can invite a more casual interaction among students and something that is large enough to support student activities. They wanted to introduce more green space and more areas that are visually inviting.

“Right now, there is so much concrete out there, you know, it’s just kind of a big slab of concrete in the middle of two buildings,” Floyd said. “So the intent is to try to make it look and make it more functionally inviting for people to sit down and just be there – enjoy the space.”

Floyd said they are planning to remove the fountain and install a less intrusive water feature.

“There’s a tranquil feeling that comes from water, which is nice, but that’s kind of like a water feature on steroids,” Floyd said.

On a larger scheme, the university plans to extend Risman Plaza all the way to Summit Street.

“The first phase is essentially going to be the existing footprint, and it does not involve relocating the Risman Drive,” Floyd said. “We’re trying to coordinate with the city and the ODOT, the relocation of that drive with an upgrade of Summit Street, which is scheduled to occur in the next two to three years.”

Floyd said the first phase has a budget of $3.3 million. The president’s office has been setting the money aside for three or four years, he said. There is no estimate on the other phases.

“A lot of them depend on how much access we have to other funding sources,” Floyd said. “We don’t want to lose sight of where we’re going because this will be an incredibly nice improvement, but the programmatic advantages of getting that space contiguous and getting all that bus traffic and the loop of cars from crossing in the middle of it by barely moving it over a bit will make a huge difference.”

Floyd said the architecture firm the university engaged to go through the planning phases and schematic development is Johnson, Johnson and Roy. Floyd said they sometimes involve the architecture school on campus projects, but this project is so large, students wouldn’t have time to participate.

Tom Euclide, director of architecture and engineering in the Office of the University Architect, said the plaza has been rebuilt before.

“Essentially, the plaza has been rebuilt once already back in the mid ’90s from how it was designed in the ’70s,” Euclide said. “Each time, that time as well as this time, it’s the life of the plaza has gone through, and you know, it’s seen a lot of wear and tear from all the events, all the traffic that goes through it.”

Euclide said they haven’t finished the final plans, so they can’t publish anything as of yet.

“We’re in the process of going through our schematic plans and trying to really firm up how it’s going to look,” Euclide said. “If we were to give you plans right now, it would have the potential of deceiving people on what it’s going to look like.”

Nevertheless, Floyd said the renovations will be a lot more casual and pleasing to the eye than the current plaza.

“So a lot more space, a lot more casual space, for student use and aesthetically, a much improved look for the whole area,” Floyd said.

Contact principal reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].