Habitat for Hard Places

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The Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative has been working with Cuyahoga River Restoration and landscape architecture students from Ohio State University to generate design ideas for development sites along the Cuyahoga ship channel that serve the needs of Cleveland fish and human inhabitants.

The Cuyahoga River was once so polluted that it caught on fire 13 times. It’s been almost 50 years since the river last burned. Today, water quality and the environment along the river is much improved. But it’s still tough to be a fish, especially a young one, in a channelized, working river. Cuyahoga River Restoration has implemented several green bulkhead projects that give fish places to feed and rest as they travel through the ship channel. These experimental installations have begun to improve conditions for local fish populations.


Ohio State landscape architecture students took this work a step further and developed designs that improve fish habitat along the river’s edge in ways that are also legible and appealing to people. Earlier this year, with support from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Ohio Environmental Education Fund, the CUDC  took the students out on the Cuyahoga with a group of developers and riverfront property owners so they could learn about the needs of their prospective fish and human clients.


The students generated dozens of detailed proposals, some of which are highlighted in a set of six postcards from the water’s edge, designed by the CUDC. We hope this project will lead to more ecologically sensitive riverfront development and also to better relationships between people and their fish neighbors. To learn more about this project, there will be a public program at the CUDC at noon on February 1, 2019. Sign up for our newsletter or watch this blog for additional details.

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The postcards make great gifts for fish fans! Postcard sets are available free of charge at the CUDC, so stop by (1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200) during office hours, or email cudc@kent.edu and we’ll send you a set.







Zero Threshold Design Competition


Zero Threshold is an international design competition hosted by Northcoast Community Homes in Cleveland, Ohio, in partnership with Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation.

The competition takes a design-forward approach to accessibility that encompasses new construction, the retrofit of existing housing, accessible public space design, and holistic urban design strategies aimed at eliminating physical and social barriers. The competition is open to students and professionals with awards in multiple categories.

Competition brief and registration available in January, 2019. Submissions due in May, 2019.

$10,000 in awards with an opportunity to implement some of the winning ideas, thanks to the generosity of the Cleveland Foundation.

More information


Making Our Own Stories


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Making Our Own Stories is puts the mic in the hands of middle and high school students, training them to craft and tell stories in their own voices. This placemaking podcast reveals the stories behind the people and projects transforming Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood through the Making Our Own Space youth-build program. Listen to the latest podcasts at wearemoos.org.


The Art of Engagement



Please join us for a lecture by Marie Bukowski on Friday, November 9 at noon at the CUDC.

Marie is an internationally recognized printmaker and the Director of the School of Art at Kent State University. Her talk is entitled, The Art of Engagement.

Community engagement is the foundational cornerstone of a community’s culture. Community engagement is the equivalent to cultural excellence. The role of artists is unique and evolving, frequently reflecting on current issues, challenging societal restrictions and mores, sometimes creating beauty and order, sometimes demonstrating the inherent chaos of contemporary life, addressing government decisions and asking philosophical questions. Artists have been visionaries, provocateurs, and iconoclasts, sometimes praised for their ability to conceptualize the future, and other times chastised for breaking with the norm.


Artists in the 21st century operate in a fascinating environment, unlike that of their predecessors. Advances in technology have made previously unimaginable concepts wholly possible. This idea serves as a home to artists whose practices encompass this developing interdisciplinary approach; artists who imagine the future, who question the direction of humanity, who are able to synthesize the constantly changing technology, viewpoints and culture into their artistic vision. Artists who would take part in this creative inquiry are frequently risk-takers, challenging commonly held beliefs. With the support of the creative inquiry, these artists are able to pursue their vision, communicate with targeted audiences and impact the global community.


This lecture is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. The CUDC is located at 1309 Euclid Avenue, on the second floor. Ring the intercom by the front door to be buzzed in.


KSU Landscape Architecture Open House

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KSU Landscape Architecture Open House
Wednesday Nov 14th 2-6pm

Are you are considering studying Landscape Architecture and design? This one afternoon Open House offers an introduction to the discipline of landscape architecture through observing design presentations by current graduate students, an information session with faculty, tour the KSU’s CAED Cleveland Studios and the CUDC. Followed by International Landscape Architect Virginia Burt, FASLA lecture “Keeping On”: Design Inspiration in the Age of the Anthropocene www.vburtdesigns.com at 6pm as part of the CUDC Lecture series and is a public event, reception to follow.


ALTERNATIVES TO THE PRESENT a Conference on Urban Futures


Kent State Teams up with the AMPS Group to host Alternatives to the Present a Conference on Urban Futures – October 31 to November 2

Starting on Halloween, Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design will host an international conference on urban futures at the at the CUDC’s home in CAED’s Cleveland site in Playhouse Square. The conference will open with a keynote lecture on the 31st at 6:00pm (free and open to the public), with paper sessions all day on November 1 and 2 (registration required). The CAED’s partner in this effort is Architecture Media Politics Society, an international group of scholars that publish interdisciplinary inquiry on the politics and representation of contemporary architecture and urbanism.


Theme Virtually every 21st century statement on cities begins by acknowledging that this is the century of global urbanization. While we can’t say exactly how our cities will evolve in response to the enormous social and ecological transformations that are underway, we can say that there will be no return to mid-twentieth century statist models, and that there may not be much more life in the Neoliberal economic principles that have defined urban possibilities in the last 40 years. We can also say that, to date, architects, urbanists, planners, sociologists, human geographers and community activists have played only a limited role in informing the ongoing transformation. Most urban development decisions today have a lot to do with speculative finance and flows of capital, and those who seek positive change in cities often struggle to work with, or around, that reality.

The goal of this conference is to look critically at how various disciplines study the city and to consider how the knowledge base of one discipline should more fully inform another. In the final analysis this conference seeks to better comprehend what a 21st century model of the theory-practice relationship in urbanism might look like and whether, under current economic models, such an alignment is possible, or even desirable.

While the conference examines international experience, its host city is significant to the theme. Unevenly developed cities such as Cleveland exhibit a patchwork of economies, market conditions, and forms of social dislocation. They provide compelling laboratories for examining the social, political, economic, and design issues of concern in many cities in both legacy and emerging economies.


Keynote Anya Sirota, Associate Professor, Taubman School of Architecture and Planning, University of Michigan

Anya Sirota works at the intersection of media, urban politics, and design, both in her teaching at U of M and with her co-principal Jean Louis Farges in the Detroit-based firm Akoaki Design. Through temporary installations and sustained work with grassroots organizations, Sirota seeks to devise modes of urban development that foster both equity and glamour in the culturally rich and economically parched landscape of the so-called rust belt.


Alternatives to the Present: A Conference on Architecture, Sociology, Urbanism, and Planning

Where: 1309 Euclid Avenue

When: October 31 (evening keynote) – November 1 & 2 (all-day sessions, $250 registration, check only)

Who: Over sixty scholars from four continents

More Information: architecturemps/Cleveland/

Questions: Professor Steve Rugare at srugare@kent.edu



we-re hiring

The Cleveland Urban Design Center is a non-profit, community design practice of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University. The CUDC conducts research, provides technical design assistance to communities, and supports public education and design advocacy programs. The CUDC is located in downtown Cleveland, where it shares space with Kent State’s Graduate Programs in Urban Design, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture.

The CUDC is seeking a Senior Urban Designer with broad multi-disciplinary design experience, an interest in urban design education, and a commitment to public involvement in the design process. He or she will be involved in all aspects of the CUDC’s operations, working closely with the director in initiating new programs, advancing the mission and activities of the organization, leading design projects, and developing proposals for research grants and technical service contracts. Depending on interests and qualifications, the Senior Urban Designer may also contribute to design studios and/or seminars of Kent State’s Graduate Programs.

Minimum qualifications are: an advanced degree in urban design, architecture, landscape architecture or planning; six (6) or more years of experience in urban design or related practice; excellent design, graphic, and communication skills; knowledge of advanced computer applications; and a record of successful grant writing and fundraising experience. Preferred qualifications include digital fabrication experience; teaching experience; and published project work and/or research.

Kent State University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

For official job description, please see the posting on the Kent State University Employment Site


Community Design Charrette in Toledo, Ohio


On October 5-7, 2018, CUDC staff brought 14 graduate architecture and urban design students from Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design to Toledo, Ohio for our annual Midwest Urban Design Charrette.

In partnership with the Toledo Design Center, and joined by partner schools Lawrence Tech University & the State University of New York at Buffalo, students spent the weekend studying the Swan Creek area of the Junction neighborhood. TDC has been working closely with Junction through the Junction Coalition on long-term neighborhood planning. The Charrette work dovetailed with that plan in order to envision future ideas for Sterling Field, Swan Creek, and adjacent post-industrial parcels.

Over 48 hours in Toledo, and pausing only for local Toledo experiences like Tony Packo’s and the Toledo Maritime Academy, students collaborated in teams to quickly generate four distinct plans for the Swan Creek area. The site challenges included floodplains, brownfields, active rail lines, and vacant housing stock; but the students identified opportunities for redeveloping the area and connecting the site back into Junction and to Toledo as a whole. Topics explored included stormwater management, recreation, remediation, industrial heritage, housing retrofits, year-round park access, vacancy & reuse, aging-in-place, and economic development.

Special thanks to the Toledo Design Center for hosting a wonderful weekend, and to The Collaborative, SSOE, AIA Toledo, AIA Ohio, Amy Odum, the Mastriana Endowment, and NAIOP for sponsoring the 2018 Midwest Urban Design Charrette! Also, thanks to CUDC Project Manager and Urban Designer Kristen Zeiber who did a great job in leading the event!



David van der Leer at the CUDC


David van der Leer, Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute, will give two lectures at Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative

Thursday, October 25 | Reception at 5:30pm featuring Kent State Ashtabula wines from Laurello Vineyards | Lecture at 6pm

David will talk about the work of the Van Alen Institute. Free and open to the public, but space is limited for this event. Please RSVP by October 11. RSVP LINK

Friday, October 26 | Lecture from noon-1pm | Brown bag lunch lecture — snacks will be provided

David will discuss how the Van Alen Institute selects and evaluates urban design projects. Free and open to the public, no RSVP is needed.

Both events will take place at the CUDC, 1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200. Please ring the intercom at the front entrance to be buzzed in.

Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design and the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative are pleased to welcome David van der Leer for a two day visit, October 25 & 26, 2018. As Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute, David develops projects that explore the nuanced relationship between the built environment and the human being. Under his leadership, Van Alen focuses on the ways our minds and bodies are impacted by the cities we live in, and how we in turn impact the environment.

A highlight is Ecologies of Addiction, a multi-year investigation into the ways digital technologies can shed light on the complex relationship between the city and addictive behaviors; it is currently in its first phase in London.


Since arriving at the Institute in 2013, David has created a period of strategic growth with a new programming hub in the Flatiron district, and new models for connections between the Institute’s interdisciplinary design competitions, research, and public programs. In close collaboration with a vibrant new team and board, David is working to bring Van Alen’s work to places around the U.S. and beyond.



Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition


RE-CITY: Call for Applications



Innovative Training Network | Reviving shrinking cities – innovative paths and perspectives towards liveability for shrinking cities in Europe (RE-CITY) is recruiting 13 Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD positions for Early Stage Researchers (ESR). The RE-CITY consortium consists of scholars and practitioners from nine beneficiary-institutions in eight countries (Germany, United Kingdom, France, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, and Mexico). All have an interdisciplinary background working on shrinking cities. Additionally seven partner-institutions and companies from four countries, including Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative are assisting with training in Germany, Netherlands, USA and Japan.

The PhDs will be hosted at one of the beneficiary-institutions of RE-CITY: Technische Universität Kaiserslautern (TUK), Cambridge Architectural Research (CAR), École Normale Supérieure Paris (ENS), Spatial Foresight (SPF), TU Dortmund University (TUDO), University of Amsterdam (UVA), University of Porto (UPORTO), Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan (AMU) and University of Guadalajara (UDG).

The RE-CITY ITN is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme to explore and evaluate new approaches and success factors for shrinking cities. The project aims to train highly skilled experts for the four key themes of shrinking cities: conceptualizing shrinking smart, governing, greening/right-sizing, and regrowing shrinking cities. RE-CITY provides a perspective for the robust and sustainable development of shrinking cities, while supporting elements of economic prosperity, liveability, social stability and innovation. This Innovative Training Network will develop novel solutions for shrinking cities, and investigate case study approaches for dealing with them in terms of the four key themes noted above. On this basis, the RE-CITY programme will develop a framework of tools and methods, including planning instruments. The RE-CITY ITN enables the ESRs to act as leaders, mediators, and consultants of change while fostering innovative solutions and perspectives for these areas.

 Through co-supervision by academics and non-academic partners, the PhDs of RE-CITY will undertake critical, practical, and creative exploration of the contribution and relationships between their individual doctoral study projects across the four interconnecting research themes.

In addition to undertaking doctoral research, the PhDs will engage in collaborative research, workshops, and training  to develop advanced skills and expertise in tackling social, economic and ecological challenges linked to demographic and structural change.

Please note this is a general call for the whole RE-CITY ITN. More specific requirements for individual selection criteria and information on financial support and remuneration will be available at the shortlisted stage.

The full call document is available here, including more detailed information about the individual PhD projects.

Applications should be sent preferably via e-mail as one single PDF file to re-city@ru.uni-kl.de by 12 noon (MET), 15 October 2018.

For inquiries, please write to re-city@ru.uni-kl.de.


2018 Fall Lecture Series at the CUDC

18 fall lecture poster

We have a great line up of speakers and programs at the CUDC this fall. All programs are free and open to the public.

Please join us this Friday, September 21 at noon for a talk by Megan Lykins Reich from the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland entitled Intentions are not Results. Megan will explore the space between our original vision or intent for a project and how it actually materialized in the real world.


Design Diversity Index


The CUDC and our project partner, Jacinda Walker, recently completed a Design Diversity Index for Ohio. This project was made possible with the generous support of The George Gund Foundation.

The Design Diversity Index project began with a question: How can the design community know which actions are working best to increase diversity in our fields? We collected demographic data about the people currently in design schools and the design professions so that strategies for increasing diversity can be evaluated based on their results.

The resulting Design Diversity Index is a tool for gauging the numbers and percentages of people of color in architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, and urban planning in Ohio’s universities and professional organizations. The Index focuses on representation of African American and Latinx communities. Using available data, the Index establishes current baseline conditions and will track annual progress toward expanding racial diversity in the design professions.

The project found that representation by people of color in the design professions in Ohio is low. For example, African Americans are the second largest ethnic group in Ohio (12.2%), but have the lowest representation in architecture among the state’s five major ethnic groups (African American, Hispanic, Asian, White, and Other). According to the American Community Survey, only 1.29% (76 people) of Ohio’s architects are African American. If we hope to make the design professions more open and inclusive, we can first begin by understanding the design journey–the paths that people take from first discovering an interest in design, to pursuing a design education, and ultimately finding work in a design field.

Mapping the design journey (Jacinda Walker, www.designexplorr.com/research)

Mapping the design journey (Jacinda Walker, www.designexplorr.com)

The Design Diversity Index is an important step toward understanding barriers to diversity in the design professions today, and tracking progress toward greater design diversity in the future.

For more information and to download the Design Diversity Index report. please visit DESIGN DIVERSITY


CUDC Friday Lecture Series: Intention is not Results


Please join us at noon on Friday, September 21 for a lecture by Megan Lykins Reich entitled, Intention is not Results. Megan is Deputy Director for the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) where she helps set a vision for the Museum’s innovative artistic and educational programs and supervises strategic initiatives. She has also curated some remarkable and mind-expanding exhibitions at the museum, including There Goes the Neighborhood; DIRGE: Reflections on [Life and] Death; and Duke Riley: An Invitation to Lubberland. Megan will talk about the gap between what we envision or intend at the beginning of a project and how it actually materializes in real life. 

This lecture is free and open to the public. Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative is located at 1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200. Please ring the intercom by the front entrance to be buzzed in.


Speakers on the Square | August 2

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On Thursday, August 2nd, from 5:30 – 7:00 PM, AIA Cleveland is hosting its fifth annual Speakers on the Square Event. Each year the Young Architects / Associates group assembles local practitioners, thinkers, and advocates in dialogue around a theme. The event will be held at the Transformer Station in Ohio City, 1460 W 29th St.

Taking advantage of the current FRONT Triennial, this year’s panel will focus on the role of art in our cities, with contributions from the disciplines of architecture, planning & development, art, and curation. Discussion topics will include:

  • How can architects be better advocates for artists?
  • How can our cities sustainably support artists in our communities?
  • What are local best practices in placemaking & public art investments?
  • How should we think about arts accessibility and equity in our neighborhoods?

Moderated by CUDC Project Manager Kristen Zeiber, the panel will include: Lisa Kurzner, Curator, Front International; Lauren Yager, Local multidisciplinary artist; Allison Lukacsy, Project Manager, City of Euclid/local artist.

We hope to see you there!



CUDC welcomes a new Office Manager!



The CUDC would like to welcome our new Office Manager, Michelle Kupiec. She has varied experience in film and television, intercultural communication, and youth-oriented non-profits. She created marketing for a mental health care facility and refined curricula and strategic plans for a youth internship program, both operating in the Greater Cleveland region. Michelle has an honors B.A. in Philosophy from Baldwin Wallace University and holds credentials from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management for Developing Outcomes and Program Design through the Cuyahoga County Youth Work Institute.

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