Resilience for All


Resilience for All: Striving for Equity Through Community-Driven Design
Lecture by Barbara Brown Wilson
Friday, September 18, 2020 at noon

Barbara Brown Wilson, a leader in sustainable urban and environmental planning, will discuss ways to build resilient neighborhoods and communities as part of the CUDC’s Fall lecture series, held online through Zoom.

She will discuss how community-based projects can promote positive, equitable change in communities that are disproportionately affected by negative environmental factors. Based on findings from her recent book, Resilience for All, she will explore efforts in four US communities in the U.S. to address problems such as climate change and gentrification.


Professor Wilson is the Director of Inclusion and Equity at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. She is co-author, with Steven A. Moore, of Questioning Architectural Judgment: The Problem of Codes in the United States. She received the University of Virginia All-University Teaching Award in 2018 as well as other awards and honors for her community engagement projects, including ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen Project, in Gary, Indiana.


This program is free and open to the public. Please REGISTER to receive the meeting link.

Certification Maintenance credit for this lecture is pending, thanks to our partners at APA Ohio, Cleveland Section.



Design Charrette with Cleveland Metroparks


Every year, the CUDC conducts a community design charrette with graduate students from Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design. The charrette is a three or four day workshop with a public sector partner to generate fresh design ideas in response to a local challenge. Typically, the charrette takes place in a community outside of Cleveland, but we can’t travel this year due to COVID-19.  Instead, this year’s charrette will be held in Cleveland, in partnership with the Cleveland Metroparks, exploring opportunities for retrofitting public spaces to allow for social distance. The charrette will take place from Friday, October 2nd through Sunday, October 4th with a final evening presentation on Monday, October 5th.

Focusing on Brookside Reservation, located along Big Creek between the Brooklyn Centre, Stockyards, and Old Brooklyn neighborhoods, the students will generate small- and large-scale ideas and work with neighborhood partners to reimagine local park spaces. Brookside is adjacent to the planned Brighton Park and trail extensions to the Towpath Trail – what opportunities do these larger networks bring to address social inequities and accessibility within Cleveland? In an uncertain future, how can we (re)design public spaces to be flexible and accessible, while also accommodating necessary social distance?



plans to connect Brookside Reservation to the larger Towpath Trail & regional park network through the new Brighton Park

Plans to connect Brookside Reservation to the larger Towpath Trail & regional park network through the new Brighton Park

During the charrette weekend, we will explore the following questions:

  • Can public spaces be quickly retrofitted to allow for a wide range of scenarios?
  • How can parks allow for social interactions and attract new users, while maintaining 6’ distance?
  • How do pedestrians and bicyclists connect to the park system and how can the city street network facilitate these connections?
  • How can parks be safe places for all city residents, especially those most in need?
  • And how can we use this moment of fluctuating human use to emphasize and accommodate larger ecological functions?

The Metropark site and its larger neighborhood connections provide an opportunity to study Cleveland’s public spaces, and generate spatial and programmatic ideas that provide flexible alternatives for future use.

Domino Park, Brooklyn, NY: social distancing circles. [img: Marcella Winograd]

Domino Park, Brooklyn, NY: social distancing circles. [img: Marcella Winograd]

NACTO: "Streets for Pandemic Response & Recovery"

NACTO: “Streets for Pandemic Response & Recovery”

There will be online and on-site opportunities for community residents and stakeholders to share their ideas and give feedback to the team before, during, and after the charrette weekend, so check back for more details soon.


Activating Space, Activating People: Racial Equity by Design


Presentation by Mordecai Cargill, ThirdSpace Action Lab

Friday, September 11th at noon


ThirdSpace Action Lab (Cleveland, Ohio) Co-Founder + Creative Director, Mordecai Cargill will describe how the legacy and intransigence of structural racism have indelibly shaped the context in which urban design practitioners pursue efforts to positively impact the built environment. This lecture will revisit the inextricable links between Race + Place + Historical Memory as the starting point for a more critical interrogation of how we understand the work of (re)building equitable + inclusive communities. This lecture will also introduce participants to ThirdSpace Action Lab’s work—both locally + nationally—and highlight some of the ways the firm, its clients + collaborators have begun to turn insights into action through Community Collaboration, Research + Strategy Design, and Space Activation. The lecture will be followed by an accelerated Soul Work Session, during which the TSAL Team will facilitate an Applied Racial Equity + Inclusion Controlled Experiment to demonstrate the firm’s Impact Continuum: Constant Awareness Building + More Thoughtful Action.


Mordecai Cargill is a co-founder + Creative Director of the ThirdSpace Action Lab, a grassroots research, strategy & design cooperative, dedicated to prototyping creative place-based solutions to complex socio-economic problems. Mordecai’s key roles & responsibilities include (but are not limited to): Research, Analysis & Evaluation; Storytelling, Insights & Content Creation; and Creative Direction & Brand Management. Prior to starting this exciting venture, Mordecai served as the Director of Strategy, Research & Impact at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP), a community development funding intermediary committed to fostering inclusive neighborhoods of choice and opportunity throughout the city of Cleveland. Mordecai provided oversight and analysis for the implementation of the Cleveland Neighborhood Progress 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, focused primarily on 3 key areas of activity: Program Design and Evaluation; Research and Thought Leadership; and Partnership and Resource Development. Since joining Team CNP in 2014 as Manager of Fund Development, Mordecai’s responsibilities have included project management for strategic initiatives such as an Organizational Assessment (2014), and the planning process for the 2017-2021 Cleveland Neighborhood Progress Strategic Plan (2016). He also contributed to CNP’s emerging Policy, Advocacy & Research body of work, and co-leads the organization’s efforts to elevate racial equity and inclusion as a citywide community development priority. Mordecai earned his BA in African American Studies from Yale University, with a concentration on Black Culture in the 20th Century. He was awarded the William Pickens Prize for his Senior Thesis entitled, “The Black Arts Iconography of John Coltrane.”

Social media: @MCargill28 (Twitter and Instagram)


ThirdSpace Action Lab was created to disrupt the vicious cycle of disinvestment and displacement that negatively impacts the vitality of low-income communities of color. We are a grassroots research, strategy & design cooperative, dedicated to prototyping creative place-based solutions to complex socio-economic problems. We are institutional and community organizers, turning multidisciplinary research into evidence-based strategies; and activating “third places” to co-creating more liberated spaces for people of color. We believe that the future of Cleveland’s neighborhoods depends on our collective efforts to transcend the limitations of the popular imagination and consider what will be possible if we insist on the beauty of forgotten places, the value of the people who live there, and seize the opportunity to realize our shared vision for an equitable and inclusive society. We are committed to making this vision a reality. We believe that racial equity and inclusion are central, non-negotiable components of a viable growth strategy. We believe that human-centered design framework applied in communities of color should be inspired by all residents—especially, those who called this place home before its revitalization. Above all, we believe in the sanctity of humanity—that all humans have intrinsic value, deserve beauty, and need more than their basic needs satisfied. 


Fall 2020 Public Programs

2020 fall lunch lectures poster draft_v4

Join us this Fall 2020! 

This Fall the Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) is holding a series of public programs free and open to all. We invite you to join us.

All presentations are planned for noon.

There will be an invitation to RSVP for each program which will give you access to the ZOOM link. For more information email: CUDC@kent.edu or visit our blog at: cudc.kent.edu

This series is made possible with support from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University. Certification Maintenance credit for lectures in this series are pending, thanks to our partners at APA Ohio, Cleveland Section.

   KSU logo stacked white type       CAED wire frame logo       d3652435-25cf-4eaa-b1ad-96b16958890f


Beyond the ADA: Ensuring Inclusion in Public Spaces


Join ADA Cleveland for a discussion on exceeding  the requirements of the Americans with Disabilites Act (ADA) to make our communities and public spaces truly inclusive and welcoming for people with disabilities. This virtual event is Wednesday, August 12, 2020 from 2-3 pm.

Register in advance for the opportunity to ask questions and speak with our panelists.

Panelists include:

  • Lillian Kuri, Senior Vice President for Strategy of the Cleveland Foundation
  • Brian Iorio, CDBG Coordinator for the City of Cleveland Heights
  • Terry Schwarz, Director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative at Kent State University

This event is ASL Interpreted. For captioning click here.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA Cleveland is planning 30 days of virtual celebration, including workshops, advocacy, art, dance, and more! For full program schedule click here.



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.


American Roundtable


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 (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 design 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]

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 1.04

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

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!