Alena Miller and James Lennon Receive AIA Student Awards


Each year, AIA Cleveland recognizes excellence in design by inviting local firms and students to submit their best work to be reviewed by nationally renowned juries from all over the country. This year we are excited to announce that two CUDC graduate students received awards. Alena Miller received the Merit Award and James Lennon the Honor Award. Both submitted work from their Graduate Design Studio, focused on Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor.

The studio explored new urban planning and design approaches for redeveloping the Corridor through adaptive reuse of vacant land. Led by co-instructors David Jurca, Jeff Kruth, and Pravin Bhiwapurkar, students developed alternative visions for the local neighborhood intended to establish connections with emerging economic development in the region. Of particular interest was the potential for physical interventions to build social cohesion, ecological value, and cultural resources through short- and long-term actions.

We spoke with Alena and James about their studio experience and design process. First, Alena tells us about her experience and her project, Urban Seam.

“The summer studio was a unique graduate experience, because it required a concise analysis of the current proposal for Opportunity Corridor. My design process began by identifying strengths within the Kinsman neighborhood that may be viewed as constraints and acknowledging that the existing urban fabric was not useless, but compromised. From this point, I developed a “sewing kit” of urban design strategies that identified formal and informal design solutions that were culturally appropriate for the existing population. These “patches and stitches” create multiple scenarios for future development in the neighborhood. Further expansion of the “residential patch and stitch” included a typology study and the design of alternative housing units that better served the existing population’s needs. The housing typologies met the required density for transit-oriented development while offering social and recreational amenities to the residents. Overall, the design of Urban Seam focused on the positive impact of the Opportunity Corridor on an existing population by creating design strategies that were culturally appropriate, transitional, and a catalyst for future development.” – Alena Miller

2Urban Seam, Alena Miller

9Urban Seam, Alena Miller

If you would like to see more of Alena’s award winning project, you can view it here.

James also shared his overall impressions of the studio and the design process for his project, Reintegration.

“As far as the Studio experience goes, it was a great learning experience. In general, I believe that the project itself was an excellent opportunity to share insights and generate excitement for possible design solutions in a real world scenario. Being from another city, it was great to see how open-minded Clevelanders are to improving the city with new ideas. The support and feedback we received from a number of city officials and project stakeholders allowed us to better understand problems relative to the site. We were offered an inside look at how these projects may develop.

I also benefited from having three studio co-instructors. They each provided expertise from different perspectives, forcing us to use critical thinking in making our own decisions for the project. All nine students collaborated well together throughout the semester and served as a great support system. The design language and principles learned in this Urban Design Studio reinforced and improved my understanding of Architecture and its related fields.

Reintegration_Reintegration, James Lennon

The design process for my work involved identifying key social, economic, and environmental problems that exist within the site. The solution was to leverage existing anchors and amenities in order to provide a cohesive site that encouraged user interaction through transitional “social condenser” spaces. Interaction with diverse community members will serve as a support system for people who have been recently released from incarceration. My project’s ultimate goal is to reduce recidivism. The design itself was a response to current conditions while also acknowledging the history of the site through various urban design interventions. The programming is organized to connect people with landscape, architecture, and each other.” – James Lennon

Reintegration_13Reintegration, James Lennon

If you would like to see more of James award winning project, you can view it here.

Alena and James both set high personal goals that extended beyond the studio requirements. It is evident by their achievements that their hard work and dedication has paid off. We can’t wait to see what they will accomplish in the future!




Urban Land Institute Design Competition | Information Session October 29th


There will be an informational session to launch recruitment for the 2016 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Urban Design Competition on October 29th at 6:00 pm at the CUDC. The competition is open to graduate students from the disciplines of architecture, urban design, urban planning, landscape architecture, finance, business, and other real estate development fields.

The ULI Competitions is an interdisciplinary urban design and development competition held over two weeks in January. It asks student teams to conceive of development program for a real, large-scale site in a major North American city. Previous cities have included New Orleans, Nashville, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Pittsburgh. Teams from Kent State, Cleveland State, and Case Western have convened at the CUDC in previous years, bringing home multiple honorable mentions from the competition. To attend the information session, please RSVP to cudc[at]kent.edu or call 216-357-3434.

ULI blog pic 2

(Students collaborating from the 2015 team)

Delta Commons render web1(Rendering from 2015 team)



Havana: the future never happened by itself…



On October 7th, the CUDC hosted a lecture by the influential Cuban architect and urban planner, Miguel Coyula. Professor Coyula is on the faculty at the University of Havana. In his lecture at the CUDC, he talked about Havana–past, present, and future. He organized his remarks around a central idea:

The future never happened by itself. It was created.

As many have observed, Havana is a city that feels fixed in time. Yet everything is on the verge of change. Buildings, infrastructure, and public spaces throughout the city are crumbling due to the decades-long embargo, widespread poverty, and a complex political system that allocates resources inefficiently. As foreign capital flows into Cuba at an accelerating rate, local entrepreneurs and outside investors are beginning to transform the city. The long term cultural effects and the physical form of the city in the future are as yet unknown. And Havana’s future is yet to be created.



Professor Coyula is both optimistic and concerned about the future of Havana. He sees opportunities to learn from other cities; that every city can show you something, good or bad. But despite the outside pressures and international influences that will inevitably be part of Havana’s regeneration, his advice to architects and planners in Cuba is to:

Think Cuban. Be Cuban. Don’t imitate.

In the US, we’re on the outside looking in. But that too is about to change. Havana poses many complex questions…about architecture, real estate development, historic preservation, and infrastructure networks. We have a remarkable opportunity to both support reconstruction efforts in Havana with new technologies and design expertise, and simultaneously learn from the resourcefulness and tenacity of the many Cubans who’ve held their city together under difficult circumstances for the past six decades.

Havana remains a vibrant place, though the scale of disinvestment feels overwhelming at times. But there’s good reason for optimism and the US and Cuba gradually rediscover each other.

The Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design and the CUDC are exploring opportunities to engage our students, faculty, and research staff in Cuban design issues. In March of 2015, CAED Dean Doug Steidl and CUDC Director Terry Schwarz traveled to Havana with Jorge Delgado and James Thompson of the Joaquin Weiss Institute. The purpose of this trip was to observe the physical environment of the city and provide initial reactions about how future development might evolve. We also used the trip to explore ideas for future academic programs. Our findings are summarized in a report: CUBA_observations.

The CUDC is grateful to Kent State University President Lester Lefton who provided support for Miguel Coyula’s visit to Cleveland, and also to KSU Professor Anne Morrison who organized the event. Anne is organizing a study trip to Cuba from December 31, 2015 – January 8, 2016. If you’d like to see Cuba for yourself, contact Anne at amorriso[at]kent.edu for more information.


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


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!


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



EASTSIDE HUB multi-family living for a multicultural population


Congratulations to Kent State CUDC graduate student Alena Miller who took 3rd place in the 2015 Cleveland State University Real Estate Market Analysis Competition. Alena competed in a field of 20 students. Her project focused on the design of a community to support an influx of immigrants and refugees, in accordance with resettlement criteria outlined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Using a site in Cleveland (E. 61 Street, just south of Chester Avenue) she developed a plan for 180 apartment units plus 156,000 SF of urban agriculture. The inclusion of  urban farming generated 25 on-site jobs for the refugee community.

PowerPoint Presentation

Alena’s project is especially timely, given the large and growing numbers of people who are forced to flee their homelands each year due to political conflicts and violence. Greater Cleveland receives approximately 600-700 refugees a yeara number that could grow if planning, policies, and programs are in place to support these populations.

Her work represents a unique investment opportunity that advocates for the future of Cleveland. Congratulations, Alena!


We’re Hiring! Part-Time, Admin Position

we-re hiring_2015_560px


Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) is hiring a part-time Business Manager position for our downtown Cleveland office. The job responsibilities include administrative and clerical assistance for the CUDC’s professional practice and academic programs.


Administrative Clerk | Part-time position, Monday- Friday 8:30 am – 12:30 pm


  1. Visit Kent State’s Career Postings Sitehttps://jobs.kent.edu/applicants/jsp/shared/frameset/Frameset.jsp?time=1427740048253
  2. Enter Position Number: 998191
  3. Click “SEARCH”
  4. Click “View” under Administrative Clerk
  6. In addition to applying online through Kent State’s Career Posting Site; please email resume to Terry Schwarz at tschwarz@kent.edu


  • Provides part-time administrative, budget, and clerical assistance to the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative unit in downtown Cleveland. This position is housed in the downtown Cleveland office.
  • Coordinates and monitors CUDC budget and expense accounts.
  • Coordinates workflow and schedule to ensure deadlines are met, priorities are recognized, and policies/procedures are followed.
  • Assists with occasional office functions to include set up and clean up.
  • Schedules university facilities for academic and nonacademic events (e.g., meetings, dinners, parties, etc.); reserves locations, dates and times; assists clients with the planning of events (e.g., the types of tables); completes necessary forms; enforces university and scheduling procedures.
  • Answers, screens, and routes incoming telephone calls from multiple lines, takes messages, may send messages through electronic mail, places and logs long distance calls.
  • Greets and screens students, faculty, professional staff, administrators, and visitors, directs to appropriate location or person; may distribute, explain, and/or collect forms, pamphlets, or other informational documents.
  • Provides general and specialized information to students, faculty, professional staff, administrators, visitors, or callers regarding policy and procedures of University or department, campus locations, University events, class times and cancellations, telephone numbers, etc.; refers questions requiring more knowledge or data to appropriate person.
  • Sorts and distributes incoming mail for department; prepares bulk mailings.
  • May type basic items such as memos, schedules, telephone listings, envelopes, labels, data cards and occasional letters or reports from draft using typewriter or word processor. May perform other clerical duties such as filing, producing photocopies, sending and receiving facsimiles, and arranging for repairs.
  • Maintains various logs (e.g., parcels, visitors, keys, etc.), calendar of events, and/or appointment book.
  • Must pass a security check.


The Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) is a community design and research division of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) at Kent State University. Based in downtown Cleveland, the CUDC provides technical design assistance to communities throughout the northeast Ohio region, conducts research into urgent and emerging areas of design practice, and offers a variety of public education, and design advocacy programs.



Students Receive Honors in ULI Urban Design Competition

ULI 2015 Delta Commons Team PhotoULI “Delta Commons Team” from left to right Jeff Jasinski, Sergio de Ilzarbe, Michael Mears, Max Wagner, and Matt Dureiko.

CUDC students Matt Dureiko, Jeff Jasinski, and Max Wagner received an Honorable Mention from the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) annual urban design competition. Accompanied by Cleveland State University student Michael Mears and Case Western Reserve University student Sergio de Ilzarbe, the five members proposed an urban design and financial scheme for a site in the Tremé-Lafitte neighborhood of New Orleans.

render 1Click image to view larger. 

Their proposal, “Delta Commons” featured a series of resilient strategies that tied into the existing character and culture of the neighborhood. A series of “backyard commons,” integration to the Lafitte Greenway, and a site level strategy for storm water mitigation were all elements of the plan. Sensitivity to the existing neighborhood was also addressed through an ample number of affordable housing units, a community workforce and training center, and the addition of a new street car line. 120 teams competed throughout the US and Canada this year, making the Honorable Mention distinction particularly noteworthy.

render 2Click image to view larger. 

render 3Click image to view larger. 

Three teams in total met at the CUDC over the course of the two week competition in January. Teams “The Front Line” and “Big Easy Oaks” contributed proposals that addressed the reuse of the I-10 highway underpass as a unique recreational and gathering space, and developing at a density sensitive to the neighborhood. The interdisciplinary nature of the competition asks students to partner across disciplines, and receive feedback they may not otherwise hear in a typical academic setting. The Cleveland ULI chapter partners with the CUDC, helping to bring in outside jurors throughout the competition. More information on the competition can be found here.


CALL FOR PROPOSALS: 2015 Midwest Urban Design Charrette

The CUDC is seeking a community partner from an Ohio city, suburb, town, or neighborhood facing a unique urban design or planning challenge and in need of fresh ideas and perspectives to host our 2015 Urban Design Charrette.

The CUDC and our two partner urban design schools – Lawrence Technological University’s College of Architecture and Design in Detroit, MI; and Ball State University’s Urban Design Center in Indianapolis, IN – will bring graduate students in urban design & architecture to the selected partner community for a 3-4 day intensive workshop charrette. The Midwest Urban Design Charrette, as our three schools call the partnership, has been conducted for four consecutive years, traveling to Detroit, MI in 2014, Indianapolis, IN in 2012 and 2013, and Cleveland, OH in 2011. You can view reports that have been generated from these past charrettes here.

indycharetteStudents working at the fall 2013 charrette in Indianapolis, IN. 

The ideal community partner will be a municipality or other vested stakeholder with the ability to engage local community stakeholders and potentially realize some of the final design recommendations. The partner will also be responsible for basic food and lodging for approximately 30 students and staff over the 3-4 day Charrette period. The CUDC, LTU, & BSU team will bring staff, supplies, and expertise.

PIB_group photo all2012 charrette participants in Put-in-Bay, OH. 

The Midwest Urban Design Charrette is a unique and rewarding experience for students, who get an opportunity to face real-life design challenges and propose solutions, and for cities, who receive a wide range of design and planning ideas in a short and intense period of time. We welcome the chance to bring our partner schools to Northeastern Ohio in the fall of 2015 and hope to hear from cities, towns, suburbs, and neighborhoods equally excited about this opportunity.

Proposals due by April 15, 2015.

For more information, submissions guidelines, and deliverables please click here.

eco_public meeting 1_tablePublic meeting with community members during 2011 EcoVillage charrette. 


CUDC Fall Studio Teams Compete in MidTown Design Competition

nykamp and gates image_cropAerial rendering of a development proposal for Cleveland’s MidTown District created by CUDC graduate students Matthew Nykamp and Heather Flick. The concept, named “Deeply Rooted,” proposed a public green space network overlaid on broadband data infrastructure.  

First year graduate students at the CUDC kicked-off their urban design studio experience this fall with a local design competition. Focused on a segment of Cleveland’s Health-Tech Corridor, the competition involved several local partners and offered a $1,000 cash prize provided by Geis Companies.

Stretching along three miles of Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue, the Health-Tech Corridor (HTC) served as the geographic scope for the studio. The HTC is a 1,600 acre swath of near east side neighborhoods, including healthcare institutions, business incubators, academic centers, and over 123 high-tech companies, all anchored by a bus rapid transit (BRT) line.

AU14 Studio Syllabus-3

The competition’s primary focus sites lie within the broader Health-Tech Corridor, clustered between E. 55th Street and E. 70th Street in the MidTown neighborhood. Students were given a tour of the area by knowledgeable community partners, including: Jeff Epstein, Director of the Health-Tech Corridor; Maura Maresh, Development Director at Geis Companies; and Will Warren, Finance Analyst at the City of Cleveland’s Department Economic Development.

Five student teams competed in the studio’s design competition. Each project employed a unique perspective on the opportunities presented by the site. Although all teams produced strong proposals for the jury to consider, ultimately Team RED was selected as the prize winner.

Students will present their work again at an event organized by Heath-Tech Corridor at JumpStart on February 26, 2014. If you’re interested in learning more about the upcoming event or the student projects, please contact studio instructor David Jurca.

Final slide presentations from all teams are shown below:


From Grey to Green | Clarisse Gates, James Lennon

Graduate students Clarisse Gates and James Lennon envision a holistic development strategy focused on improving the health of MidTown employees and surrounding residents. From Grey to Green identifies measurable goals for green infrastructure, providing attractive and functional amenities to spur new development.


MidtownLink | Said Abiakl

Exploring the site’s potential to connect adjacent neighborhoods, MidtownLink weaves a multi-use trail through variously scaled public spaces. Said Abiakl conducted a rigorous analysis of climatic conditions, storm water strategies, and programmatic arrangements to arrive at an iconic circular form to anchor the mixed-use development.


Mi[xe]d Town | Tyler Middendorf

Through research on the district’s historic development patterns, Tyler Middendorf derived the insight that past developments were too focused on a single industry. Comprised of businesses primarily based on the automotive industry, the district fell victim to volatile global market forces, resulting in the vacancy we see today. In an effort to prevent similar collapses in the future, Mi[xe]d Town diversifies entertainment, mobility, and employment opportunities, creating a resilient community.


MidTown Beat | Brittany Ballish, Andrew Foster

Building on existing assets within MidTown, Brittany and Andrew aim to grow the various rhythms of activity in the neighborhood. A proposed music therapy facility leverages the area’s music identity, punctuated by the nearby Cleveland Agora. Public spaces create areas of respite while integrating multiple levels of entertainment. Transit-oriented design elements reconnect Midtown with Downtown Cleveland, universities, and healthcare campuses. Streetscape enhancements and public arcades respond to the need for north-south connections to enable future growth and neighbor relations.


Deeply Rooted | Heather Flick, Matthew Nykamp

“The Deeper the Network, The Greater the Community” is the tagline for Matthew Nykamp and Heather Flick’s proposal, which aims to grow rich digital and physical social spaces. Leveraging the area’s broadband fiber infrastructure, Deeply Rooted attracts both new technology businesses and current neighborhood residents to interact in a dynamic public realm.


RED | Turki Alosimi, Mykie Hrusovski, Katelyn Milius
* Competition Winning Project

RED‘s goal is to create a technology-focused environment that promotes healthy living, celebrates diversity, fosters collaboration, and provides opportunities for growth on site. The project team addressed this goal by creating a flexible design strategy, rather than rigid master plan, which empowers nearby residents to climb up the ladder of success.

Team RED also created a stop-motion animation, which portrays an engaging story of two people working in the neighborhood.


CUDC Students Collaborate to Examine New Orleans in Annual ULI Competition

ULI blog pic 1

Students from the CUDC, Case Western Reserve University, and Cleveland State University recently partook in the 2015 ULI Gerald D. Hines Urban Design Competition. The intensive two week competition asks students from design, planning, and finance to provide a conceptual, yet realistic and financially feasible proposal for a site in a North American city. This year’s site was based in New Orleans, in the Treme-Lafitte neighborhood. Three interdisciplinary teams took on the challenge to provide an equitable, resilient, and sustainable neighborhood across a 23 acre site.

Students’ concepts included a green space & storm water network that fed into larger regional systems, utilization of the I-10 underpass as a programmable communal space, the incorporation of large amounts of affordable housing, and particular attention to the neighborhood’s cultural heritage.

ULI blog pic 2

Students from the CUDC, CWRU, and CSU will present their final work to a local audience of developers, architects, and ULI associates this Friday morning, while the national jury will release the teams of finalists in mid-February. Experts from the local design and development community served as external advisors and jurors providing invaluable feedback throughout the process.


Student Perspective | Jordan Charles | Urban Proxy

We recently interviewed Master of Architecture (MArch) student, Jordan Charles, about his independent studio project “Urban Proxy”. Read our interview below to learn more about this unique project.


Hi Jordan, introduce yourself, what is your background?

My name is Jordan Charles, most of my friends know me as Peezy. I like to consider myself an “architect in training” striving to acquire his Master of Architecture during the day and a superhero at night. I pretty much have the same profile as some other individuals in the field – jack of all trades, master of none. However, I do take pride in my drawing abilities. While they aren’t where I’d like them to be they are good enough to allow me to make sense of my ideas and transfer them from my thoughts to paper.

What studio was this project for?

“Urban Proxy” was my final project for the independent studio I had taken up to fulfill the final requirements for my MArch. I had derived from the typical trajectory for the CUDC’s MArch program due to conflicts with my summer schedule and the required summer studio. So instead of taking the summer studio, I pushed the studio back to the following fall semester which is where it had morphed into an independent studio. However, I am pleased with how the adjustment worked out. I believe the independent studio gave me the freedom necessary to create “Urban Proxy”.

27_560How did you come to choose your topic?

“Urban Proxy” embodies a lot of personal beliefs I have in regards to design and architecture. People are in part defined by their experiences and architecture provides a stage for experiences to occur, so in theory architecture defines people. I wanted this project to provide a stage where positive experiences could occur for individuals that may feel they didn’t have a proper place within the city.

At the root, what is “Urban Proxy” about?

The genesis of Urban Proxy initiated with the intent of devising a scheme that resisted a static nature in search of a proposal that could be primarily flexible. The idea of flexibility sparked a desire to devise a plan to produce both programmatic and architectural elements that were freed from shackles. Change occurs more frequently than ever before and as society (thus the city) change, more should be expected from our environments. To be able to keep up with the changes, adaptability is a trait critical to designs that intend to remain relevant. Read more…


Student Perspective| Tyler Middendorf | Detroit Charrette

As the year comes to a close, we here at the CUDC, are looking back at some of our students accomplishments and their achievements throughout the semester. MArch & MUD student, Tyler Middendorf, participated in a design charrette in Detroit, MI. We asked him to write about his experience for our blog. Read Tyler’s story below and get a glimpse of the student perspective.


When the semester first began, I was asked if I would like to participate in a design charrette in Detroit. To be perfectly honest, I did not know exactly what a charrette was, but, as jumping into an adventure head first is my nature, I did not hesitate to accept the invitation.

Ultimately though, that is what a charrette is all about; a bunch of adventurous minds jumping into a new problem together and exploring the possibilities. As the home team, Lawrence Technological University knew the lay of the land, both in terms of the design site and the studio. The visitors, Ball State University and your hometown heroes from Kent State, provided the distanced outside perspective; the “fresh take.” This mashup of perspectives allowed for informed design that did not get too caught up in the particulars involved in the typical design process.


The three day charrette went quickly, to say the very least. We arrived to Detroit, our trace paper and markers in tow, with just enough time to get a quick and dirty tour of the city and throw down some BBQ. Still wiping the sauce from our faces, we were swept onto a tour bus to visit our design site, the Marina District, about 4 ½ miles northeast of downtown. We drove the site with local narration, giving us just enough background information to really start asking questions. Shortly after, we met with a couple of Marina District citizens who presented what they saw as the gems and the germs of the site. After a delicious dinner of lamb and flaming cheese (Opa!) we headed to Lawrence Tech’s downtown studio and split up into three teams, each one a blend of the three participating schools.

We started off the design process by listing the key problems of the district that we had heard throughout the day, and from there laid out our project goals. We then broke off into sub committees to draw site analysis diagrams addressing the problems and goals we had listed. We drew until night became day. We drew until even our Microns were tired. We drew until the project finally insisted that it needed a break from us, and only then did we return to the hotel.


We were back at it early the next morning though, only now we were overlaying our analysis diagrams, tracing their interactions, identifying nodes, and extracting pathways. There were mounds of trace, transparencies covering all surfaces in the room. With these nodes and pathways identified, we were ready to really begin producing. We drew sections that gave the streets personalities and signage and symbols that gave the district identity. The waterfront, bike paths, and commercial streets were illustrated. Again, we drew late into the night, taking breaks only for coffee and pizza.

The next morning was crunch time. Though we had been working hard, there was still much left to do, much more visual explanation required to make the locals see what we saw in their district. We worked until the zero hour. With only minutes before the presentation, we decided who would explain each part of the project, and we formed a rough and rudimentary outline of our speech. The ink on the master plan was not yet dry when we hung it on the wall for review.


Each team presented their project, and it was fairly remarkable the differences that had emerged between each in the short span of time. The local natives gave us their feedback on our work, and just like that, the intensive three day design session drew to a close.


In the end, perhaps we gave the Marina District residents some new ideas, and hopefully at least a few of them were good. Beyond that, we got to learn from our peers from other places, exposing us to different methods and different graphic techniques. We learned the value of quick iteration which can be applied to the long and tedious projects with which we are typically involved, helping us to move through problems with just a little more ease. Most importantly, the charrette was also a reminder of why we do architecture and urban design in the first place. We aim to improve the world in some capacity, and if we can achieve that to any extent in just three days, imagine what we might do with the rest of our lives?

-Tyler Middendorf, MArch/MUD