The CUDC was founded in 1983 by former KSU professor, Foster Armstrong with the support of the Urban University Program. Under Armstrong's direction, the Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio (as it was then known) expanded KSU Architecture School's existing outreach and public service activities. The Center's focus was two-fold:
- Provide thinking around + responses to historic preservation and general infrastructure problems in Northeast Ohio's towns + cities.
- In conjunction with students + staff in the department's studio courses, the UDC administered research into larger urban issues in Cleveland as well as other urban cores.
In 1998, the CUDC had a new director, Ruth Durack, who facilitated the relocation of the organization to a new facility in Cleveland. This move raised the profile of the CUDC and dramatically expanded the organization's range of projects and community partners. The move also enabled KSU to realize a long-standing goal of placing the College of Architecture + Environmental Design's academic and outreach programs in the city of Cleveland - which since 1972 had lacked a resident architectural school. The CUDC has given graduate students the opportunity to pursue their studies in close contact to many of the design challenges present in cities around the world. Simultaneously, CUDC's professional staff have been able to put their talents to work in order to help re-develop the neighborhoods present in our region's largest city while continuing to work on projects that affect the region as a whole.