Cut | Fill unConference


What are the challenges and opportunities for the field of Landscape Architecture as we move forward in this unprecedented time of a global pandemic and civil unrest from racial injustices? Organized by Ink Landscape Architects, in collaboration with The Urban Studio, the purpose of this conference is to help us identify the changes we want to make to our own profession and to take the first steps to do so.

Cut/Fill is participatory and collaborative; it is an Open Space unConference and you are invited to speak and share, pose questions or ask for input. A trained open space facilitator will ensure that discussions are properly organized.

The agenda will be created live each day by attendees present at the opening of the day. Anyone who wants to host a session that day will announce the topic and choose a space and time. You choose which breakout session to attend.

More information/registration


Public Space and Neighborhood Resilience


Akron’s Revitalized Summit Lake (Photo: Tim Fitzwater)

Governing recently published an article by James Hardy, Deputy Mayor of Akron, discussing investments in public space as urban infrastructure. He writes about the importance of parks and public spaces to the economic and social well-being of cities, noting that these places offer respite from the uncertainties and stress of this challenging time while allowing us to safely connect with one another and with nature. Research clearly shows these shared places are essential for preserving our mental as well as physical health, and in recent weeks they have also been sites of vigorous and democratic free speech, providing venues for peaceful protest and for long-oppressed members of our communities to speak truth to power.

The article brought back warm memories of the CUDC’s community design charrette in Summit Lake back in 2010.


Each year, CUDC staff and graduate students in Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture from Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design participate in a community design charrette. A charrette is a quick, collaborative session in which designers and local stakeholders work together to address design and development challenges. The location and focus areas of the charrette varies from year to year. The Summit Lake charrette  focused on improving housing conditions, finding new uses for vacant properties, expanding business opportunities, and expanding access to the natural amenities of the neighborhood.

The primary amenity, of course, is this lake that gives the neighborhood its name. Summit Lake opened as Akron’s “Million Dollar Playground” in 1917, attracting 25,000 people a day. The lake was a major vacation destination for Akron residents. As industrial development in Akron expanded in later decades, the canal entering Summit Lake became a discharge point for local business and industry. Although dumping into the canal has ceased, many years of discharge had contaminated the lake with PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyl) and PCHs (Planar Chlorinated Hydrocarbons). The mortgage foreclosure crisis and the Great Recession caused further challenges in the neighborhood including poverty, vacant housing, and demolition.


And yet, the neighborhood retained its inherent strengths–well-built housing, long-standing local institutions, and most importantly, an engaged and committed group of residents who love their neighborhood. Throughout the charrette process, community members met with the students, discussing and debating ideas for improving their neighborhood. Ideas generated during the charrette were captured in a summary report and in a shared vision for what the neighborhood could be become.


Over the past ten years, Summit Lake has undergone a remarkable transformation, driven by collaborative investments in the neighborhood’s public spaces including a new beachhead, pavilion and nature center, improved facilities for fishing, canoeing and kayaking, arts projects, and a farmers’ market. 


To quote Mr. Hardy:

In every city we need to reckon with and address the centuries-old racial and economic divides that threaten to tear us apart. One important way to bridge those divides — to bring people together and begin rebuilding stronger, more equitable communities — is through public space.



River, Nahr, Río

River, Nahr, Rio Cover

River, Nahr, Río by Taraneh Meshkani examines the relationship between rivers and cities by proposing strategies that can tie the existing urban fabric in three cities of Cleveland, Beirut, and Medellín to their riverscapes.

With industrialization, rivers got buried, canalized, polluted, and confined. The emergence of environmental issues and ecological awareness has recently led to many proposals and projects that focus on revitalizing rivers through the processes of re-naturalization, de-canalization, water quality improvement, pedestrian access, and transformation of the land-use along the rivers, mostly taking them from industrial to residential and leisure spaces.

This book is based on the International Design Exchange (INDEX) studio, which aims to make global connections and proposes a comparative design approach that seeks to offer a pedagogical framework based on similarities and differences of three distinct urban contexts.

Order here >>


Designing the New Economy

1_29_14Opp Corridor

Designing the New Economy will envision the future of work in Cleveland, focusing on the area between Downtown Cleveland and University Circle, including the Health-Tech Corridor, Opportunity Corridor, and surrounding neighborhoods. The project is a collaboration between Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, and LaunchNet, with the generous support of the Cleveland Foundation.

Major infrastructure investments in the Healthline/Euclid Corridor and Opportunity Corridor have made vacant sites and underutilized buildings on the city’s east side more commercially viable, with the potential to contribute to a revitalized manufacturing and employment district. Four of the city’s Opportunity Zone Districts (Downtown Cleveland, Health-Tech Corridor, Opportunity Corridor, and Glenville/Rockefeller Park) are concentrated in this area, offering financial incentives for reinvestment.


 (Opportunity CLE)

This project will create a vision of how buildings and sites can be reused for economic and community development and make visible the big opportunity of the Cleveland Innovation Project, an initiative of the Greater Cleveland Partnership to revitalize manufacturing in the region. The COVID-19 situation has exposed lack of local production and insufficient availability of local resources. We will identify opportunities and locations for more production and storage locally, along with infrastructure recommendations to support the re-shoring manufacturing and supply chains.

For more information, contact the CUDC team at cudc@kent.edu.



Low Contact Community Engagement


Critical planning, design, and development projects need to move forward, even under difficult circumstances. How can we create opportunities for people to weigh in on projects that affect their neighborhoods, while maintaining a safe distance and reducing the risk of illness?
A new publication, Guidelines for Low Contact Community Engagement, collects ideas and best practices that can be used now and as conditions begin to return to normal. The guidelines are organized into three phases:

  • Emerging from Lockdown: for use when physical distancing and stay-at-home recommendations are in place.
  • Living with COVID: for use when stay-at-home restrictions are lifted but physical distancing is still necessary.
  • A New Normal: for use as conditions gradually return to normal, recognizing that the challenges of COVID -19 may be with us for a long time and traditional community engagement practices will need to change to protect the health and safety of participants.




The guidelines were developed in partnership with Bike Cleveland and Clevelanders in Motion, with funding from Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

The guidelines are a work in progress, intended to help public agencies and nonprofit organizations navigate the community engagement process under unprecedented public health challenges. We welcome additional ideas for low-contact community engagement. We invite you to share what’s working for your community with our team at cudc@kent.edu.


2020 ULI Hines Competition: Miami!


This January, two teams of graduate students from Kent State University and Cleveland State University competed in the annual Urban Land Institute Hines Student Competition, a two-week competition presenting interdisciplinary student teams with a real-world challenge in the design & financing of large-scale urban developments.

The 2020 site, announced on Day 1 of the competition, was in the city of Miami, FL, with a study area north of Downtown straddling the Wynwood and Edgewater neighborhoods. A regional rail line currently divides the site, but plans are underway to add a station somewhere in the site vicinity. The competition brief emphasized the importance of multimodal transit, climate resiliency, affordability, and the integration of local arts & culture.




Cleveland urban design & development professionals advised the student groups throughout the competition period – thank you, jurors, for your time!

The final schemes both integrated new rail stations, mixed use development, affordable housing, open space, and sensitivity to climate & stormwater considerations. Even with only two weeks to develop the project, the final boards submitted were unique and thoughtful, with complex design development at multiple scales.

The Blueway:







Judy Haddad (MArch), TyJuan Swanson-Sawyer (MArch/MUD), Alex Long (MArch/MUPD), Max Hentosh (MArch/MUD), Chad Boston (MArch/MUD)



PowerPoint Presentation

PowerPoint Presentation


PowerPoint Presentation


John Dixon (MArch), Clayton O’Dell (MArch/MUD), Kaitlyn Boniecki (MArch/MUD), Elizabeth Nardi (MUPD), Chelsea Beytas (MUPD)

You can view all the 2020 Hines Competition finalists here.

Congratulations to all our students for an intense and successful two weeks!


CUDC Spring Programs Cancelled

2020 soc med post templates

Due to concerns about COVID-19, all of the remaining spring programs at the CUDC have been cancelled and the CUDC’s 20th anniversary celebration will be postponed. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this difficult time.


Urban Indeterminacy


As we all struggle to adapt to the growing impacts of the coronavirus, it is increasingly apparent that volatility (in more than just public health) is the new normal; climate conditions, financial markets, political landscapes, and more will continue to shift in dramatic, quick, and unpredictable ways. The built environment as we know it is in many ways resistant to the changes brought on by this kind of environmental, economic, and social context—buildings are costly to adapt, infrastructure can be notoriously vulnerable to shock, and most urban systems are not designed to be flexible and responsive.


If you, like many of us, have suddenly found yourself with a lot of alone time for reading and an increasing sense of urgency about how indeterminacy impacts our cities, we’d like to recommend ‘Under the Brownstones, the Beach,’ an article by Ivy Pan & Foad Vahidi featured in our latest edition of Urban Infill, FUTURECITY. The authors imagine a social realm that thrives in unpredictable times, particularly in relation to market volatility, through a network of impermanent, small-scale public spaces. They envision a flexible, reactive system that enables the appropriation of temporarily disused spaces within the city, like “a construction site halted in winter, a foundation pit vacated during an economic downturn, and a mound of rubble after demolition.” The spaces are intimate, as a reaction to more common (and more market-supported) production of large-scale public spaces, and the system is persistent, even if none of their proposed individual social spaces is.


Pan & Vahidi’s work can be found in the Adaptations section of FUTURECITY, along with other essays and research on how cities can be responsive to our changing world. The publication as a whole interrogates many aspects of current and future urban challenges, also including pieces on data / privacy, automation, de-growth, and more. Order a copy of the book here, delivered right to the door of your temporarily socially isolated location.


Erie, PA: 2019 Community Design Charrette


In October of 2019 the CUDC staff and 6 graduate students in Architecture, Urban Design, & Landscape Architecture traveled to Erie, PA for a 3-day urban design charrette. Hosted by the Jefferson Educational Society, the aim of the Charrette was to examine the existing conditions of Erie’s Bayfront area, currently cut off from the Downtown & adjacent neighborhoods by a series of infrastructural, topographic, and programmatic barriers. The design team was charged with envisioning new possibilities for connecting along & across these barriers, in order to more seamlessly integrate the Bayfront into the larger city & region.




The students had frequent touchpoints with the Erie community throughout the charrette weekend, with daily presentations and informal check-ins to ensure their work was aligning with stakeholder needs. The final work, presented in draft form the final day of the Charrette, compiled ideas ranging from small-scale wayfinding & materials to large-scale pedestrian networks, with space for public comment and final tweaks by the CUDC staff after the charrette weekend.





The design team ultimately proposed not a single “iconic connection,” but instead a series of pathways & crossings that could take on an iconic character and experiential quality in their own right. Larger-scale connections to new park spaces, Presque Isle, and elsewhere were examined, as well as ideas for landscaping, wayfinding, programming, four-season activation, public art, and maritime heritage.





The final report, presented to the public at the Jefferson Educational Society by Project Manager Kristen Zeiber on January 30th, 2020, can be found on the Jefferson Educational Society website:

Final Charrette Report


Very special thanks to the Jefferson Educational Society for hosting a wonderful weekend, and to the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, the Erie Community Foundation, the Mastriana Endowment, and NAIOP for supporting the 2019 Community Design Charrette. Thanks also to Michael Fuhrman and John Vanco for their stalwart support & enthusiasm across the Charrette weekend and beyond!


Big Data & Urban Futures


The 8th issue of the CUDC’s journal Urban Infill features a collection of articles about big data and smart cities including American City 2.5 by Anna Acklin and Mark Linder. Their article explores the application of geographic information system (GIS) software as a tool of urban design. Here’s an excerpt:

The county-wide maps of American City 2.5 are a revision and expansion of a commission to study Onondaga Creek in Syracuse, New York, as a potential locus of public-private investment. American City 2.5 extends that study to an analysis and modeling of spatial data across the Onondaga County to distinguish latent communities, institutional networks, and public infrastructures through three general maps that capture the county’s economic, cultural, and hydrologic character. Exercising a variety of investigated techniques within the software, the project infuses census data into the map’s various layers, inviting a unique graphical representation of these newly designed or more informed components, territories, infrastructures, and ecologies that feed the site.


Consider the land parcel. In its most basic sense, the parcel may be understood as boundary lines demarcating plots of land at the ownership scale. In efforts to exhibit the economic character of plot ownership and neighborhoods across the county, the parcels are formally manipulated through GIS to varying degrees of distortion based on the population of college students, and are then color-coded on a gradient based on the proportion of the population without high school diplomas. The web-like feature created by this process reflects the emergence of a more bottom-up, or organic, understanding of the economic culture county-wide through the scale of the parcel.

Similar operations were employed across the three base maps to manipulate features in accordance with census information to reveal the economic, cultural, and hydrologic latencies throughout Onondaga County. In pushing the graphic capacities of the software, the layers are accentuated and expressive of the now merged features and transformed census data, subverting the typical hierarchical understanding of mapped elements.


The hydrology and geographical features of Onondaga County, New York

While the images themselves are abstract, it is this very attribute that welcomes interpretation without discrimination and creative speculation. The image’s ability to re-present and inspire design proposals remains rooted in specificity, but can simultaneously confirm, accentuate, and/or elaborate intuitions in one’s understanding of a city. As an urban design tool, this capability creates an alternative understanding of site analysis and creates ranges of new potential within proposed solutions that can be more particular as they respond to a more informed site.

To read the complete article plus others on the themes of big data, development, and adaptation, you can pick up a copy of Urban Infill No. 8 at the CUDC for $10 or order it online.

2020 soc med post templates

And it you’re interested in big data and GIS as an urban design and community development tool, please join us for a lecture by Sarah Williams on MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab on March 6, 2020 at 5:30 pm. Sarah will share some of the Lab’s work and discuss how big data can be used to generate policy change. Drinks and snacks at 5:30pm; Sarah’s talk begins at 6pm.

Event is free and open to the public but registration is appreciated.




Presentation of Winning ZeroThreshold Competition Designs


In 2019, North Coast Community Homes sponsored a design competition seeking new ideas for for accessible housing, with funding from the Cleveland Foundation and technical support from the CUDC. The competition entries were exhibited at venues throughout Cleveland in late 2019 and a competition catalog is in the works.

First prize went to the New York City-based Brandt : Haferd for their project SIDE by SIDE (pictured above) which incorporated the firm’s playful claymation model aesthetic with three major design principles to create an innovative, design-forward accessible house:

  • An Urban Approach
  • A New Take on the Multi Family/Communal House
  • Accessibility at Many Scales. 

On February 13, 2020 at 4 pm, the Neighborhood Design Center, is hosting an exhibition and presentations by several of the winning designers at the NDC, 1445 Summit Street, Suite 300 in Columbus. For more information, contact the NDC at 614.221.5001 or info@columbusndc.org



Erie, Pennsylvania: Reconnecting the Bayfront


Presentation at the Jefferson Educational Society, 3207 State Street, Erie, Pennsylvania

JANUARY 30TH,2020 | 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

How can Erie better connect its bayfront with the downtown and adjacent neighborhoods? That was precisely the mission of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaboration when it came to Erie and the Jefferson Educational Society in late October, 2019 for an intensive weekend of study and design. The final report of the creative work by students and faculty of Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental design will be presented at the program, titled Erie, Pa.: Reconnecting the Bayfront. That is also the title of the group’s report published by the Jefferson Educational Society. Lead program presenter will be Professor Kristen Zeiber, urban designer.



Future Cities Book Release + Mariana Mogilevich Lecture


Book release for Urban Infill 8: Future City, featuring a lecture by Mariana Mogilevich entitled, Between Policy and Poetry

Friday, January 31, 2020

Reception and Book Release at 5:30pm | Lecture at 6pm

CUDC Gallery, 1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200, Cleveland

We’re kicking off a year of celebrations marking the CUDC’s 20th anniversary with a book release for the Volume 8 of the CUDC’s journal, Urban Infill 8: FutureCity. FutureCity explores emerging ideas in urban design and city-making and features articles and interviews about the impacts of big data and the Smart Cities movement; contemporary development practices; and urban adaptation strategies.


Mariana Mogilevich will give a talk entitled Between Policy and Poetry: What can a publication contribute to the collective work of citymaking? A view from New York City. Mariana is the Editor-in-Chief of Urban Omnibus, a publication of the Architectural League of New York.

Free and open to the public. REGISTRATION

Co-sponsored by the American Planning Association’s Cleveland Chapter. Event attendees are eligible for one hour of AICP Certification Maintenance (CM) credit.

Urban Infill is made possible through the generous support of The George Gund Foundation.



We’re hiring!

we-re hiring

The CUDC is looking for a part-time Office Manager. This is a temporary (four month) position.

The College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) at Kent State University is seeking applicants for a part-time Administrative Clerk/Office Manager at our downtown Cleveland facility.  This position will provide part-time administrative, budget, and clerical support to the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, located in downtown Cleveland. The office manager will maintain all budget documents for projects and the facility; schedule meetings; greet visitors; grant front door entries; and assist with student concerns.

Bookkeeping knowledge is required.

Position is Part-Time, 20 hours per week.

Monday through Friday, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm preferred.

Submit all required materials as an on-line application to KSU Human Resources. Position Number: 989995

Kent State University is an Equal Opportunity Employer



The Architecture Play


This Friday, November 8th from 5-7 pm, the next act of The Architecture Play is presented at the John Elliot Center for Architecture and Environmental Design, Kent State University, 132 South Lincoln Street in Kent, Ohio.

The Architecture Play is a collaborative multi-annual project by the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Los Angeles and Kent State University College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

Processed as either verb or noun, ‘play,’ despite its numerous instantiations, never obscures the most crucial aspect inherent to all of its forms and shades: a raw potential whose explorative drive pushes the states of being and knowledge, as well as the pre-existent boundaries of the physical and metaphysical environment, in a constant effort to derive value from play. Intimately entwined, play has thus accompanied scientific progress since before the Enlightenment.

The Architecture Play, a collaborative project conceived with these oscillating definitions in mind, similarly traces the ludic elements of the architectural discipline while projecting the potentialities of play beyond its preconceived limits. In four acts—a nod to its theatrical definition—the project constructs a complex ecology of actors and networks, of things and thoughts exchanged, transformed, and assembled to probe new avenues for pedagogy, practice, history, and theory of architecture; not simply transgressing boundaries but moving them altogether.

Organized by Ivan Bernal, Clemens Finkelstein & Anthony Morey, with participants Taraneh Meshkani, Katie Strand, Jon Yoder, Irene Chin, Gary Fox, Jia Gu, Lisa L. Hsieh, Kyle May, Antonio Petrov, and Leila Anna Wahba.

Produced with the support of Faith Chrostowski, Allison McClure, Benjamin Cyvas, Max Hentosh, Nick Ingagliato, Austin Keener, Vincent Noce.