The Public Library: Designing a Community Asset

Recently, HBM Architects received national attention for their leading-edge library projects. The CUDC’s new Post-Graduate Fellow, Sam Friesema, worked for the firm and had a hand in the recognized projects. This is his story about his involvement and how he plans to bring his expertise to our work with the Cleveland Public Library and their CPL150 Community Vision Plan.

Before joining the CUDC, I had the privilege of working for HBM Architects for 4 ½ years. HBM specializes in library planning and design and has worked with over 300 libraries throughout the country. Libraries are in an exciting period of exploration where traditional library services are transitioning as technologies rapidly alter information access in our society. Libraries are becoming community centers and neighborhood technology hubs. Instead of housing books they now house activities, workshops, cafés, performance spaces, interactive learning areas for all ages, and yes, still a few books.

Libraries are an integral part of any city. As a public amenity, libraries build upon input from the community to construct spaces which meet local needs. While we can only guess what the library of the future might look like, several new projects give a glimpse into cutting edge library design. Four HBM projects recently received national attention for their innovative architectural visions of the contemporary library. I was fortunate to work on all of these projects at varying capacities.

hbm projects

Click on project name for more images and information:


Projects range in size and scope, from adaptive reuse to new construction. While each project is very unique, themes start to emerge as to where library services are headed: Open floor plans, flexible meeting spaces, technology saturation, less book shelves, casual seating areas, maker spaces, interactive early childhood literacy areas, all act to inspire the next generation of public library users.

Looking ahead, I am excited by the CUDC’s involvement with Cleveland Public Library’s CPL150 Community Vision Plan and hope to continue contributing to the library world in my new role here at the CUDC.

-Sam Friesema, Graduate Fellow


Matthew Feinberg Lecture | October 2nd


Join us this Friday, October 2nd, for another exciting talk as part of our Fall Lecture Series. We welcome Matthew Feinberg, he will be talking about Re-Making Madrid: Cultural Ecology and the Spanish Economic Crisis.

Matthew Feinberg holds a PhD in Hispanic Studies from the University of Kentucky. His research studies contemporary Spanish culture with a particular focus on the relationship between theatrical production and urbanism in Madrid’s iconic Lavapiés neighborhood. Combining the analysis of dramatic texts, performance spaces, urban planning documents, and the cultural activities of urban social movements like the indignados or 15-M movement, Professor Feinberg explores how struggles over cultural production are deeply connected to the physical and symbolic shaping of contemporary cities. His work has been published in a range of academic journals including, most recently, the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, and in the forthcoming collection of essays entitled Ethics of Life: Contemporary Iberian Debates. He currently teaches at Case Western Reserve University in the SAGES writing program.

Free and open to the public. Join us from 12-1 pm at the CUDC.

Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200
Cleveland, OH 44115



Miguel Coyula Lecture | October 7th

miguel coyula_2

Miguel Coyula is an architect, urban planner, and professor at the University of Havana. He will give a comprehensive overview of Havana from its origins to the present, ending with an open question shared by many people these day: What kind of city will Havana be in the coming years?

The event will be held at:

Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
Kent State University
Euclid Avenue, Suite 200
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
Directions to the CUDC

Following Professor Coyula’s talk, there will be a light dinner catered by Earth Bistro Café featuring contemporary American cuisine with a Cuban flair. This event is free and made possible by KSU President Emeritus Lester Lefton, but REGISTRATION is required.

For any inquiries regarding the event, please contact the CUDC.



An invitation for CUDC Alumni | 2015 Community Design Charrette

students at work

Ten years ago, CUDC students participated in a Community Design Charrette in Youngstown, Ohio. The charrette is an annual event in which the students and staff of the CUDC collaborate on an intense, focused design effort for a nearby community, over the course of a fall weekend.

In 2005, the charrette took place in the Oak Hill neighborhood, a beautiful, but distressed part of Youngstown. The charrette helped lay the groundwork for the CUDC’s newly created Shrinking Cities Institute. The work subsequently featured in a local documentary and highlighted in the national media, including Metropolis magazine and the New York Times.

A_overall (2)

This year, CUDC students and staff are returning to Youngstown to tackle new challenges. The design team will also include students and faculty from Ball State University and Lawrence Technological University. The charrette will take place October 22-24 in downtown Youngstown. The work will target Hazel and Phelps, two key streets that terminate at the Wean United redevelopment site ion the Mahoning River. We’ll explore possibilities for creating the linkages, public spaces, and development opportunities necessary for rejuvenating this part of the city.

If you’re a CUDC alumni and remember your charrette experience fondly, we invite you to join us for this year’s charrette. We’ll provide food and accommodations, courtesy of the City of Youngstown and Youngstown State University. It will be a fun opportunity to connect with our current students, stretch your creative muscles, and help a community work through some interesting design challenges. Space is limited, so if you’re interested, please contact Kristen Zeiber at the CUDC (kzeiber[at]kent.edu) as soon as possible.

students at mill creek


Future City Sessions | McLain Clutter

future city logo

The CUDC’s Future City Sessions are an exploration of emerging ideas in urban design and citymaking. These sessions, developed with the support of The George Gund Foundation, will take place in the fall and winter of 2015/16. Each session will begin with a public presentation or workshop on a specific topic by a leading national thinker.  Following the public session, we will host a smaller, facilitated conversation over a meal with our guest speaker and a thoughtfully selected group of Greater Clevelanders. During these conversations, we can explore big and useful ideas in a comfortable setting, and uncover new directions in urban design that will be relevant locally and on a broader scale. These conversations will be captured and published as a book or a series of pamphlets so the discoveries made in conversation can be shared with the widest possible audience.

Our first Future City Session will feature a GIS Workshop: Fake Places and Data Shapes on Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor taught by McLain Clutter on September 25th. This workshop will introduce participants to experimental workflows and data manipulation processes in conventional GIS software platforms in order to illuminate latent potentials for progressive urban design. The workshop is free, but limited, so please register soon. For more information and to register click here.

Eschewing the conventional use of GIS software, this workshop will introduce participants to experimental workflows between standard GIS software, publicly available datasets, and visualization software more common to architectural practice. McLain’s goal will be to reveal urban development potentials that are solicitous of new forms of public life, aesthetic regimes, formal conglomerations, urban intensities, and more. The workshop will entail a lecture delivering a conceptual framework through which to understand the potentials and liabilities of GIS as an urban design medium, an introduction to the ESRI ArcGIS software environment, and advanced instruction on unconventional and complex methods of spatial data manipulation, working between ArcGIS and architectural visualization software.


The Monday following the workshop, McLain will give a public lecture entitled Master of None at the CUDC , September 28th at 6 PM. McLain’s lecture will focus on his design practice that is dedicated to rethinking architecture’s disciplinary capacities within the complexities of contemporary urbanism. This event is free, but registration is requested. For more information and to register please click here.

McLain Clutter, is an architect, writer, and Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture. Clutter received a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University and an MED from the Yale School of Architecture, where he was the recipient of the Everett Victor Meeks Fellowship. He has worked in design offices in New York, Chicago and New Haven on a diverse array of projects ranging in scale from residential renovations to urban master planning.

Register for GIS Workshop – September 25, 2015, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Register for McLain Clutter Lecture – September 28, 2015, 6:00 pm


Bialosky Day at our Design RE/build House


Every other weekend this summer, volunteers have been coming out of the woodwork* to help us finish constructing Kent State University’s first Design RE/build house in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood of Cleveland. Lots of progress has taken place at the house, not least because of the boundless, donut-fueled energy of our crews.

On August 22nd six employees from Bialosky + Partners Architects donated their time, energy, and expertise to the project. Alongside our other enthusiastic volunteers, the construction crew graded landscape, placed insulation, installed cabinets & countertops, replaced floorboards, welded guardrails, and many other important jobs around the project. The project is finally nearing the extra-fun finishing details, when we’re really getting to apply our creativity.



For those of you thinking how much fun this all looks, you’re in luck! We’ve extended the schedule through September and October. Our 5 remaining dates are:

  • September 5
  • September 19
  • October 3
  • October 17
  • October 31 : Halloween House Party!

These dates are tentative and may change, based on our progress, so check our Facebook page regularly for updates and email Kristen Zeiber at kzeiber [at] kent.edu to get on the mailing list.

Also, if your firm is interested in “sponsoring” a day at the Design RE/build house, let us know. This is a great opportunity for your architects & interns to get out of the office for a day and get some hands-on experience in the field (plus PR for your firm). AIA Associates, you’re eligible to use the volunteer hours towards your IDP Leadership and Service hours too! Just email Kristen with any questions and we’ll set you up.


Thanks to all our dedicated students, volunteers, and community members who are supporting this project! The end is in sight, and we couldn’t be more excited to see the finishing touches emerge.

* – please forgive the construction pun.

This project is generously funded by The George Gund Foundation, Sandvick Architects, Sears-Swetland Family Foundation, and the Helen Brown Fund. Additional support from 84 Lumber, RoosWork, VIP Restoration, and St. Clair Superior Development Corporation


To view more photos of our Design RE/build house click here.


AIA Cleveland Emerging Practitioner Lecture Series | John Cerone

john cerone

Join us for an evening with John Cerone, Director of Virtual Design & Construction at SHoP Architects. John has been instrumental in SHoP’s development of technology and process, specializing in Building Information Modeling (BIM).

Honing Digital Design and Delivery (1 CEU)

Learning Objectives
• Model-based project delivery
• Parametric design-to-fabrication workflow efficiencies
• CNC-driven fabrication & data management
• Collaboration via cloud-based platforms

John received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the School of Architecture at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (2002), and his Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University (2008). He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Planning and Preservation, teaching seminars in ‘Digital Representation’ and ‘Parametric Modeling’. He has taught at Parsons New School for Design in New York and actively lectures on the topic of Virtual Design & Construction.

This lecture is brought to you by AIA Cleveland as part of their Emerging Practitioner Lecture Series and is sponsored by 3form.



The CUDC welcomes Post Graduate Fellow, Sam Friesema


The CUDC created the post graduate fellowship as a one-year position for graduates of KSU’s Master of Architecture, Master of Urban Design, or dual MArch/MUD program. This year we welcome Sam Friesema as our Post Graduate Fellow.

As an urban and architectural designer, Friesema seeks to engage with the theory and configuration of the built environment to enhance human flourishing in our cities and neighborhoods. His interests revolve around the interaction of architecture, policy, networks, and infrastructure space, to construct development models that appropriately contribute to globalizing and mechanized urban form. Sam has over ten years of architectural design experience at firms in Cleveland and Colorado. He received a Bachelor of Environmental Design and Architecture from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Master of Urban Design from Kent State University at the CUDC in 2014. Sam is involved in urban design, teaching, and research at the CUDC.

We’re excited to have Sam on board!


Making Our Own Space (MOOS) focuses on youth to build community environments


Created in January 2015, MakingOurOwnSpace (MOOS) is a collaborative effort between Cleveland youth and local design professionals to empower the next generation of placemakers. Led by the CUDC, the project trains middle and high school students as community designers. Over the course of nine months, students will design and construct multiple public environments and outdoor playscapes.

Britt Oval, a large green space across the street from St. Luke’s Pointe, will serve as the site for all the outdoor constructions. Three on-site projects will be built by the students to respond to changing weather conditions and user preferences. Although the projects will be short-term, they are intended to guide future investments in permanent public space enhancements on the site.



Youth participating in the MOOS project include 7th & 8th graders from the Boys and Girls Clubs and high school students from East End Youth Services. The students, along with two adult leaders from the local community, will be paid a stipend for their participation. The project will increase collaboration across community-based organizations, residents, and public/private partners. The CUDC has brought in architect Erick Rodriguez and graphic designer Arlene Watson to teach workshops. As well as, Alex Gilliam of Public Workshop to teach a week long class.

Freshwater Cleveland recently spoke with David Jurca, our Associate Director and one of the leaders spearheading MOOS about the initiative and our upcoming event Splash on Britt Oval that is taking place on August 8th. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“On a sunny Friday afternoon at the park, Jurca asks Streeter and McClain-Ferrell, “What do you hope to get from this?”

“To get people to come and keep coming back. So they want to build things of their own,” says McClain-Ferrell. “I just want to be able to say, ‘I made that.’”

This is their park made to their specifications. And that’s no small feat.

Jurca knows that although community planning often focuses on creating spaces for youth, those very same voices are regularly left out of the actual discussion. The format of public meetings aren’t aligned to make them feel welcome, Jurca says, whether it’s the time, location or questions asked.”


Learn more about MOOS and read the entire article here. Also come out this Saturday and check it out for yourself. There will be music, games, hot dogs and ice cream from 12-2 PM. The event is free and open to the public and will be happening rain or shine. Britt Oval is located across the street from Saint Luke’s Foundation, 11327 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44104.



CPL150: Community Vision Plan released and available for download


The CUDC partnered with the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) to conduct a planning process with four branch communities, together envisioning the 21st century library. CPL faces a challenge familiar to many institutions serving communities in Cleveland: How can we best meet the needs of our patrons in a changing context of new technologies, aging facilities, and declining population? CPL’s response to this question must be crafted individually for each branch neighborhood, based on the unique demands and opportunities present in those communities. The CUDC’s local knowledge of Cleveland neighborhoods and expertise in public engagement, depopulation research, and physical urban planning provide the complementary skills to enable CPL to take the next step in crafting an equitable Community Vision Plan.



The report articulates a wide-range of community priorities and reveals a clearer vision of the library’s role in each target area. Neighborhood asset maps, programming concepts, and visual renderings produced through this process enable CPL to now conduct a finer grain analysis of the operational costs, interior architectural feasibility, and financial investments required to commit limited resources appropriately. The CPL150: Community Vision Plan provides a road-map for actions worthy to celebrate in 2019 and beyond.

The CPL150 Community Vision Plan | Group 1 report includes recommendations for four initial branch communities:

  • Fleet Branch Slavic Village neighborhood
  • South Branch Clark-Fulton and Tremont neighborhoods
  • Sterling Branch Campus District and Central neighborhoods
  • Woodland Branch Central and Kinsman neighborhoods


The branches in the Community Vision Plan have been selected by CPL and their order of participation in the process has been determined through conversations with local public officials. The planning process is expected to be refined and expanded beyond this first group to include additional CPL branch neighborhoods.

Final recommendations for the current target neighborhoods were developed by the CUDC in close partnership with CPL and Enlightenment Consulting Group (ECG), through a carefully designed engagement process for each of the targeted branch locations. ECG’s previous work gathered feedback from residents that promote community building and address community deficits. Building upon this initial engagement process, the CUDC advanced the community conversations into the realm of physical planning. Gathering abundant feedback, the CUDC led 6 focus group sessions, 8 public meetings, 12 advisory committee meetings, and collected over 280 surveys in English and Spanish. In order to stay connected with people unable to attend meetings in person, the design team shared frequent updates on the process through a project website at www.CPL150.org.

The CPL150: Community Vision Plan articulates a wide-range of community priorities and reveals a clearer vision of the library’s role in each target area. Neighborhood asset maps, programming concepts, and visual renderings produced through this process enable CPL to now conduct a finer grain analysis of the operational costs, interior architectural feasibility, and financial investments required to commit limited resources appropriately.



CUDC Alumni ‘Branch Out’ at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens

The Cleveland Botanical Garden has a special exhibit on display called Branch Out. They invite you to explore a series of magical, interactive tree houses throughout the garden. Its a chance for kids (and adults) to put away technology and let their imagination run wild. Each tree house explores a theme connected to learning and fun including art, music, reading, math and play.

The tree houses were designed by local architects several of whom are CUDC alums. Two Teams of CUDC alums participated ThenDesign Architecture who built Jack and the Giant Pulpit and Sap +Iron Design|Build who built Acoustic Canopy and Seasons.

The team from ThenDesign Architecture included CUDC alums Wade Kratzer, Mia Katz, Claire Markwardt, Steve Bell, and Scott Alleman. Jeff Henderson of Ohio State University and Ed Parker of Kent State University were also on the team. We spoke with the team about their design,  Jack in the Giant Pulpit. Here is what they had to say about their design process and working with the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

“We surround ourselves with design; it is our livelihood. All of us find ourselves in nature whether it’s exploring on our own, or designing within, so when the Cleveland Botanical Gardens released a Competition to design a Treehouse, it was something that we could not pass up. It combined the opportunity to design with nature in the most literal way. During the competition process, we challenged ourselves to understand what a treehouse was and what a treehouse could be. Is it a shelter? Is it a private getaway? Is it a platform to overlook nature? Could it be all of these and more?

Our love of nature skewed us to think of what nature is. How big in reality it is compared to humans and how our imagination always leads us to get lost within it. We began thinking of folk-lore and Science-Fiction and other childhood tall tales that involved nature. This led us to expand upon the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, giving us the opportunity to work a Giant Jack in the Pulpit into the story, so that adults and children alike could have the opportunity to participate in the tale.”


The team from Sap + Iron Design|Build  consisted current and former CUDC students including Mykie Hrusovski, Alan Hipps, Jessie Hawkins, Adrian Marti, and Charles Fredrick who is an Assistant Professor and Interim Director of the Master of Landscape Architecture Program. Of the five projects that ultimately got selected for construction via a juried competition, two of their submissions were accepted. Of note, the jury was headed by Pete Nelson, the Tree House Master!

The houses each have a particular theme, Acoustic Canopy being a tree house that has built-in, bespoke musical instruments that encourages children to make and discover noises within the tree canopy, and Seasons being a small outdoor reading room for children. Both houses have a lot of custom details and features that were either planned from the beginning, or evolved as the project progressed. Another important note to emphasize is that Sap + Iron’s contractor was unable to commit to the project as it was beginning, so their team ended up constructing, rigging and installing everything by themselves.

acoustic canopy

Interesting facts:

  • The Acoustic Canopy project weighs well over 2.5 tons, and was lifted manually by only four people over the course of 2 days.
  • The tree that supports it is a Dawn Redwood which is a species thought to have gone extinct many millions of years ago, but was rediscovered and introduced to the U.S. only about 50 years ago as seeds and saplings. It’s already about 160′ tall.
  •  The Seasons Reading Room’s exterior is wrapped in Western Red Cedar that was hand-charred with a torch. This gives it its iridescent black color which serves a couple of purposes; a pleasing aesthetic, weather protection, rot resistance and insect repellency, (bugs don’t enjoy the taste of burnt wood).

We’re pleased to see our students working on such creative endeavors. The tree houses will be on display from now until August 23rd. Go out and explore the tree houses today!


Opportunity Corridor Studio Reception 7/30

OC Reception Blog Post

All are invited to check out our Summer Graduate Studio’s final work on display at our upcoming public reception:

Wednesday, July 30
5PM – 6:30PM
Kent State University’s CUDC
1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200


The reception will begin immediately following the studio’s final review. All of the presentation boards will remain on the walls and attendees are encouraged to speak with our students to learn more about their design ideas.

Light appetizers and drinks will be provided. RSVPs are not required, so feel free to stop by and bring a friend!

Nine CUDC graduate students have worked through the Summer Semester to develop urban design proposals for Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor. They met with stakeholders in the neighborhoods, Opportunity Corridor project leaders, and out-of-town design experts to explore a range of approaches to this significant planned redevelopment.

BBC OC visit

OC walking

Early in the semester, students met on-site with Jason Minter and Jeff Sugalski from Burten Bell Carr Development Corporation (BBC) to walk the neighborhood. The E. 79th Street Rapid Station and Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone were areas of particular interest for BBC and the students.

Chris Ronayne

Chris Ronayne and Debbie Berry from University Circle Inc. met with the students to share the Opportunity Corridor’s long history and current goals.


Students spoke with Opportunity Corridor Partnership‘s Executive Director, Marie Kittredge, to gather the most up-to-date plans for construction and discuss an overall vision for the project.

Joseph Danyluk

Stormwater and green infrastructure issues grew in importance for several students as their projects developed over the semester. Joseph Danyluk from Cincinnati-based Human Nature is currently working with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District on projects within the Opportunity Corridor and graciously offered his time to visit our studio.

Georgia Tech

Although unable to join us in person, Elizabeth Ward from Perkins+Will shared her students’ recent work from Georgia Tech via WebEx. The Mission Zero Corridor graduate studio proposed design concepts for creating a regenerative, restorative, and sustainable highway, supported by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation.

Mike Lydon

Rounding out the range of possible design approaches from large to small-scale, Mike Lydon met with the students to share his research on Tactical Urbanism. His recent book on the topic includes a case study from a previous CUDC studio, Pop Up Rockwell.

We hope you can join us for the public reception to see the students’ work for yourself. Please feel free to contact the CUDC with any questions at (216) 357-3434 or email cudc(at)kent.edu



Chris Connell Lecture Cancelled


chris connell lecture

The Chris Connell Lecture has been cancelled. We will updated your when it is rescheduled and apologize for any inconvenience. 

Join AIA Cleveland for a lecture by Chris Connell of Foster + Partners, Partner in Charge of the Health Education Campus, a joint venture with the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.

When: Wednesday, August 5th 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Where: CUDC, 1309 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115

Cost: $5 for AIA Members (Must provide valid AIA #)

$15 for Non-Members

Free for all Students

Drinks and snacks will be provided for those in attendance. This program is worth 1.0 HSW CEU. Seating is limited and  advanced registration is required.



CUDC welcomes a new office manager!


The CUDC would like to welcome our new office manager, Ellen Schneider. Prior to joining the CUDC, Ellen worked as an Advising Office Assistant for the College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University for three years. Ellen holds a B.A. in Classical and Medieval Studies from Cleveland State University and is currently pursuing a Master of Library and Information Sciences and a Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management from Kent State University.

We are excited to have Ellen on our team and please contact her for any administrative inquiries.


CUDC plans to “Jumpstart Elyria”

Elyria 3D Downtown Draft Render small3D Rendering of Downtown Elyria

The CUDC in collaboration with Streetsense and Partners for Economic Solutions recently completed a plan for the City of Elyria. A Western Reserve town thirty miles west of downtown Cleveland, the City of Elyria asked the project team to develop a strategy for revitalizing three of its core areas: its historic downtown, the Midway Mall area, and the Cleveland St. corridor. These areas are rich with natural amenities and attractions. The downtown is cradled by the two forks of the Black River, creating two sets of waterfalls while the town is linked regionally through the North Coast Inland Trail, as well as a recently renovated light rail station in downtown.

Despite these abundant amenities, Elyria has seen more prosperous days. In 2012, the New York Times’ Dan Berry reported on Elyria in a series of articles and interviews titled “This Land,” painting Elyria as a quintessential American city full of heritage and hope, but not immune to the effects of decades of disinvestment and economic decline.

The CUDC and partners proposed a series of tactical policy, design, and economic development strategies as part of the Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative program. Emphasizing the benefits of infrastructural and transportation improvements coupled with economic development, the plan seeks to leverage existing efforts and projects to maximize benefits for the city. The plan, titled “Jumpstart Elyria” was recently featured in Cleveland Magazine’s “Rating the Suburbs” issue.