Meet the CUDC’s Summer Staff

The CUDC is delighted to have two student employees working with us on a revitalization plan for Lordstown, Ohio and on youth workshops in Shaker Heights through our Making Our Own Space initiative. Kaitlyn Boniecki, a graduate student in Kent State’s Master of Architecture/Master of Urban Design program is working on the Lordstown project. Victoria Clark, an undergraduate in KSU’s Architecture program has been working on MOOS.


Kaitlyn Boniecki

Going into my first year as a dual Masters in Architecture and Urban Design student, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. With a studio space housed in downtown Cleveland, I was sure that issues of density, varying levels of development, and urban sprawl would be at the forefront of most of the curriculum. Much to my surprise, theory, narrative generation, and in-depth design research was rooted in just about every course, allowing me to dabble into my passions surrounding design and what it can do for real people. The INDEX studio, which looked at both Warren/Lordstown, Ohio and Curitiba, Brazil, was ー without a doubt ー the most intense yet rewarding studio experience that I’ve been a part of. Never did I think that my decision to study architecture or urban design would lead me to researching electric vehicles and bioremediation. My proposals for both sites focused on economic re-stimulation through an ecological lens, and while both sites had some serious differences, the outcome of a multi-modal network of localized solutions stood out in both. In Warren particularly, my initial research into Opportunity Zones, brownfield remediation, and upcoming economic opportunities in electric/autonomous vehicles and clean energy led to a proposal for the “Voltage Valley Trail” that wove economy, ecology, and equity into one sinuous experience.

This project fortunately served as my entry point into working with the CUDC. I believe that my work showed dedication to intensive study on issues that will be of great importance in the near future. My work this summer has focused specifically on brownfield research as it pertains to spurring economic development in Warren and Lordstown, Ohio ー allowing me to continue to study the area after looking at it during the spring semester. Brownfields, as most people could guess, are complicated properties with a lot of potential, so finding different ways to reuse them in a sustainable and economically-beneficial manner is key. I’ve been diving deep into research about the various processes of remediation, common past uses, and issues surrounding liability and funding. In addition to this investigation, I’ve also been mapping potential sites using parcel data and online real estate listings, as well as marking many important current or upcoming projects to the Warren/Lordstown area that may impact our decisions down the road. It has been really exciting to locate some useful information while still thinking about all the possibilities that may emerge during the design phase. I’m looking forward to continuing my work into the fall by focusing more on the play between economic development, environmental justice, and social equity.


Victoria Clark

Hi, I am Victoria Clark, a rising senior in Kent State’s College of Architecture. This summer, I am working with the CUDC’s Making Our Own Space (MOOS) program to facilitate workshops for local youth that channel and advance students’ design skills as they positively impact public spaces in their community. The CUDC’s mission to do this type of meaningful and responsible work for the betterment of cities was something I immediately knew I wanted to learn about and engage in. With this intern opportunity, I am able to continue my design education while focusing on my interest in urban communities and exercising my passion for both teaching and serving. Although the program has been adapted for this summer’s unique circumstances, the students’ work has the potential to be especially impactful.

For the first project, students reflected personally on these uncertain times, thought critically about the needs of their neighbors, then brainstormed ways their designs could contribute. The collaborative workshop style allowed the project to evolve into a dual-purpose socially distanced seating solution and hand sanitizing station. It is so exciting to see students lean into the meaning and motivation behind a project as they bring a design to fruition with their own hands. Out of the many takeaways from the workshops, I think the most important one right now is that the students are seeing how despite being physically distant from our neighbors, we can continue to reach them and make a difference through our designs.





The CUDC has been selected by the Architectural League of New York to prepare a report as part of American Roundtable, a new Architectural League initiative that provides on-the-ground perspectives of American communities and what they need to thrive going forward.

The KSU CUDC editorial team of Quilian Riano and Terry Schwarz (Content); and Kristen Zeiber and Katie Slusher (Mapping and Graphics), will focus on Youngstown, Warren, and Lordstown Ohio where they are already working with Youngstown/Warren-based partners and other Kent State experts on questions surrounding the future of work.

The physical and social landscapes of Ohio’s Youngstown-Warren-Lordstown Metropolitan Area are characterized both by the manufacturing and industrial prowess the area experienced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as the steady population and job loss it has faced since the 1970s. We will address the American Roundtable topic areas through the lens of the region’s changing industry, economy, and labor markets – documenting what has been lost as well as identifying new economic and social models that have arisen to provide opportunities for local inhabitants, and how these opportunities are changing the spatial and social infrastructures of the community.


The KSU CUDC’s Youngstown-Warren-Lordstown proposal was one of the 125 submissions submitted to the American Roundtable. The selection committee was comprised of leading professionals and academics from across the United States. The ten selected proposals include a wide range of locales all of which are of diverse size, geography, economic condition, and culture.


CUDC Fall 2020 Programming


This Fall the CUDC is excited to continue to celebrate our 20th anniversary by holding a series of virtual programs that bring local and national experts to our community. We invite you to join us for each conversation.

All presentations are planned for noon.

More details, a poster, and information on how to RSVP and join us virtually are forthcoming.


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 >>


Making Our Own Space [at a distance]

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Making Our Own Space, the CUDC’s design/build program for middle and high school students, continues on a limited basis this summer. Adapting MOOS for physical distancing has been a challenge, but the students at this season’s first MOOS workshops in Shaker Heights rose to the occasion.

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Students did online design research and discussed ideas for build projects, graphics, and color schemes during remote workshop sessions. Discussions centered on the idea of how to create safe space, and how our designs can send messages to our neighbors in ways both literal and emotive. Ten students generated ideas together in a virtual setting and then split into two groups for smaller in-person workshops. The two groups added to each other’s work and built two pieces during the in-person sessions, including a 6’ long seating/signage/hand sanitizer station combo to encourage good social distancing practices, with two seats facing opposite ways on either side of the sign face and a cubby to hold a hand sanitizer bottle. Students spent lots of time developing the graphic pattern and color scheme for the side panels, but still couldn’t decide on a message for the large sign face. We will likely revisit this in August. The other project was a free-standing sign that the students chose to paint a simple message of ‘HOPE’ on.


The students’ socially distant seating piece is at the Van Aken District in Shaker Heights for the rest of the summer.


In other MOOS news, the MOOS tree house at Saint Luke’s Point is complete! Two years in the making, this is one of the most ambitious and permanent MOOS projects ever constructed. Thanks to the Saint Luke’s MOOS crew for your hard work and perseverance. We look forward to a MOOS tree house celebration when the pandemic has subsided and in-person events can happen again.



Designing the New Economy

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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

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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.

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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