Community Design Charrette: Call for Proposals


Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative is looking for a city, suburb, town, or neighborhood that is facing an urban design challenge and needs fresh ideas and perspectives. The CUDC will select one community to be the focus of an intensive community design charrette to be held in October of 2019.

The ideal community partner will be a government agency or other vested stakeholder with the potential ability to realize some of the recommendations that emerge during the charrette process. The partner will also be responsible for basic food and lodging for approximately 30 students and staff over a 3-4 day charrette period. The CUDC will bring drawing supplies and expertise.

The CUDC is accepting proposals from communities within about a three-hour radius of Cleveland, as highlighted on the map below. Any community–large or small–is welcome to submit a proposal for the charrette. Major cities are shown on the map for reference.


What is a Community Design Charrette?
A charrette is an intensive, multi-day planning session where residents, local stakeholders, elected officials, designers collaborate on a vision for future development and public improvements. Recent charrettes have focused on the revitalization of Toledo’s Junction Neighborhood (executive summary and final slideshow); the removal and redevelopment of a section of the Akron Innerbelt; and public space and transportation improvements in Downtown Youngstown.

The community design charrette is a rewarding experience for students who get an opportunity to tackle real-world design challenges and propose solutions. Our partner communities gain a wide range of design and planning ideas in a short and intense period of time.

About the CUDC
The CUDC is the outreach division for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University. Based in downtown Cleveland, the professional staff of the CUDC work with communities throughout Northeast Ohio and beyond on a wide range of urban design and planning projects. The CUDC is co-located with the College’s graduate programs in urban design, landscape architecture, and architecture. The Community Design Charrette teams these graduate students with CUDC staff to to tackle a project proposed by a community partner.

The CUDC partners with other design schools, including Lawrence Technological University’s College of Architecture and Design in Detroit, Ball State University’s Urban Design Center in Indianapolis, and the University at Buffalo to bring their graduate students to the selected community for the charrette.

Please send a proposal of no more than two pages, introducing your community its particular design challenges and opportunities, along with any other information to help us understand the needs of your community. Maps and photos are welcome, in addition to your two-page proposal. All proposal materials should be combined into a single PDF and emailed to cudc@kent.edu.


  • June 17, 2019: Deadline to submit your proposal
  • June 30, 2019: Selection of charrette community
  • Early-mid October, 2019: Community design charrette in selected community





Students and staff will produce a series of analytical drawings, diagrams, renderings, design guidelines, and other relevant planning & urban design graphics, to be presented to the community partner at the end of the Charrette period. Following the Charrette, CUDC staff will assemble the design proposals into a final report and presentation to be delivered to the community partner by the end of 2019.

Contact the CUDC at cudc@kent.edu or 216.357.3434


Cleveland Climate Action Plan Wins APA Award



The Cleveland Climate Action Plan: Building Thriving and Resilient Neighborhoods for All, from the City of Cleveland’s Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, has been recognized by the APA Sustainable Communities Division! The 2019 Annual Awards for Excellence in Sustainability have recognized the 2018 CAP Update in the category “Community Sustainability or Resilience Plan.”

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In 2018 the CUDC worked with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability on the information design & graphic design of the CAP Update & its Appendices. Additionally, the CUDC produced a short fold-out brochure highlighting the main takeaways from the Plan. We’re proud to support our city’s efforts in increasing the sustainability of our region.

Click here to download the full 2018 CAP Update, and here to view the Snapshot. Congratulations, CAP Team!



Living Architecture Symposium


Please join us at a day-long seminar championing Ohio activities and linking local resources for the advancement of vegetative roofs, walls, and innovative forms of living architecture. Join this kick-off event of the Greater Ohio Living Architecture Center (GOLA) to learn about Ohio’s university research and education activity; policy and incentive programs; and new projects from industry and design professionals. Tuesday, May 21, 2019 | 8:30 am – 6:30 pm

  • Morning: Local to Global market places and trends
  • Afternoon: Research Innovation emerging from Ohio labs, student and faculty.
  • Evening: Socialize at Masthead brewery

Check out the Agenda. Register Soon. Seats are limited. See you there.  https://www.golacenter.org/


Zero Threshold Design Competition


ZeroThreshold is an international architectural design competition that elevates ideas of housing accessibility through beautiful design.

Winning entries will receive monetary awards and be featured in an exhibition and publication. The strongest and most innovative awards may be constructed in a future second phase of the competition. The submission deadline in June 28, 2019.

Meet the jurors…

GYUNGIU CHYON is an assistant professor of Product and Industrial Design at Parsons.

ANDREW FRONTINI is a Principal at Perkins+Will and the Design Director of the Toronto and Ottawa studios.


SHEENA MCGEE, Allied ASID, is the principal and owner of Sheena McGee Designs in Cleveland, Ohio.

JUSTIN GARRETT MOORE is an urban designer and the executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission.

LIZ OGBU is a designer, urbanist, and spatial justice advocate. She is an expert on social and spatial innovation in challenged urban environments globally.


Dialoguing Toledo


Please join us at noon on April 12 for a lecture by Elizabeth Ellis entitled Dialoguing Toledo. The lecture will be held at the CUDC, 1309 Euclid Avenue on the second floor. Elizabeth will discuss the quest to capitalize on grassroots organizational capacity and community engagement within the city of Toledo.

Toledo has a population and infrastructural bandwidth that is not quite large enough to be considered one of Ohio’s big cities. Within the city, there is the feeling that it is left out or somehow cheated by Capitol Hill. But the root of the problem can likely be traced to a lack of transparency and the need to control outputs that stem from local organizations.

While topics such the algal bloom, or most recently the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, make national headlines, there is still no clear line of sight to which organizations manage the underlying environmental issues that Toledo has faced since its birth. Almost equally as important to environmental issues is how the city draws lines in physical plans for expansion and continued stabilization in the near future. The City of Toledo is fighting the clock as the latest city-wide plan, completed in 2011, will be obsolete after 2020. With the City of Toledo Plan Commission staff at a deficit, there is a need for an organization to help take on long range planning and implementation efforts.

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One consistent factor in promoting change within Toledo has been grassroots organizations. It was a local group of concerned community members who took on implementing the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, and it will eventually be a team of multiple local organizations who take on the Toledo “Future City Plan.” So how Toledo better leverages these organizations to get the work done ultimately becomes the quest. Sustainable partnerships of grassroots internal linkages and linkages to major Toledo institutions becomes pivotal in ensuring capacity. There is an immense opportunity for expansion of expertise as the gap that excludes them seems to grow. Toledo has looked outside city limits to capture talent that already exists within its grassroots efforts, so at what point does all of the hard work pay off?


Elizabeth’s talk is part of our alumni series in which graduates from Kent State’s Cleveland-based design programs talk about their work. This event is free and open to the public. You’re welcome to bring a brown bag lunch and refreshments will be served.


Happy 150th, CPL!



In December of 2018 Cleveland’s South Branch, a historic Carnegie library in the Tremont neighborhood, reopened to the public. The hundreds of community stakeholders who reentered their local library for the first time in years discovered a renovated hybrid space where historic woodwork & Tudor-style windows coexist with recording studios, multimedia meeting spaces, and room for teens. Youth were already experimenting with the interactive VR equipment, while older residents were sitting near the fireplace in comfortable chairs reading the newspaper. The crowd was incredibly diverse, spanning multiple neighborhoods, ages, languages, and organizations.

In the ensuing months, the branch has already become a community hub, demonstrating the ways libraries are changing to meet new social & technological needs. South Branch embodies a new vision for a neighborhood branch library, and is at the forefront of a wave of changes for all our urban branches.

Since 2014, the CUDC has been collaborating with the Cleveland Public Library on a community visioning process for their branch libraries, including South Branch. Through the process, we’ve spoken with hundreds of Clevelanders about how they use and interact with their local neighborhood libraries, and how they’d like their libraries to evolve. Ironically, many voiced their fears that in the 21st century our libraries may become obsolete – even as they themselves continue to revolutionize the way we use our branches.

In reality, in an era of overwhelming access to information, Cleveland’s public libraries are more important than ever. Far from simply being repositories for books, today’s libraries provide technology training, social services, safe space for youth, and community work spaces. They attract hugely diverse user groups, and could be made even more relevant to a wider range of people—truly becoming community hubs for the public.

2019 is CPL’s 150th Anniversary, with a whole host of events & celebrations planned throughout the year. As an anniversary gift to our favorite library system and its incredible staff, here are some findings we’d like to share. Read more…


Making Our Own Space


Now in its fifth year, Making Our Own Space (MOOS) is a CUDC program in which teenagers design and build public space improvements that make their neighborhoods more comfortable, functional, and appealing. MOOS began in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood with the support of the Saint Luke’s Foundation and has since expanded to other neighborhoods around the city.


Last fall, the CUDC partnered with the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization to bring MOOS to the neighborhood for the first time. For one week, students worked in Dudley Triangle, a pocket park at the intersection of Dudley Avenue and 73rd Street. This location is particularly significant to us, since the conversion of this vacant lot into a public park was a recommendation included in the 2013 neighborhood plan that the CUDC prepared for the south end of Detroit Shoreway. It’s exciting to see our partners implement ideas for public spaces generated during a community planning process, and especially rewarding when we get to contribute to the activation of one of those spaces through MOOS.


For this workshop, the youth focused their work on improving the pedestrian experience on the nearby Lorain Avenue commercial corridor. Working in groups, they developed two concepts—one for a long bench dubbed the Lorain Lounger and another for a larger sheltered seat with an iconic framework design surrounding it. Despite a week of almost constant rain, the crew rallied to quickly develop their ideas and realize final iterations of their designs. We were excited to incorporate some lighting features into the finished products, and share some of our work with the DSCDO community at their recent annual meeting.

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MOOS students also designed one of the winning entries in the Sit & See CLE competition, sponsored by Destination Cleveland and LAND studio. Sit & See CLE will create a collection of places where Clevelanders and visitors can sit (or stand) and take in views along Cleveland’s trail system and possibly get a new perspective. The MOOS team is building a three-dimensional viewing platforms along the recently opened section of the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway, between West 28th Street and West Boulevard. The students built a prototype on-site in February and will work with a professional fabricator to build a permanent structure on the site this spring. 

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Visit wearemoos.org or email CUDC urban designer Katie Slusher to learn more about the exciting things going on with MOOS.


Historic American Landscape Survey for Liberty Row

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Please join us for a lecture by Landscape Architect Jeff Knopp on Friday, March 8 at noon at Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, 1309 Euclid Avenue, 2nd Floor.

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Jeff Knopp PLA, ALSA, CID is Principal and President of Behnke Landscape Architecture in Cleveland.

He will  will discuss his experience in participating in the Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) challenge co-sponsored by the National Park Service and American Society of Landscape Architects. In particular, he will discuss his 2018 submission documenting the history of Liberty Row.

This event is free and open to the public. You are welcome to bring your lunch. Light refreshments will also be served.


Student Teams Create Development Plans for Cincinnati Riverfront


This January, three teams of graduate students from the Kent State CAED and Cleveland State competed in the Urban Land Institute Hines Student Competition. Running two weeks, the competition asks students to analyze an existing site in a North American city and develop a 10-year urban design & financing plan for the area. The competition is an opportunity for students in design & development to work together and understand how cities are developed in real-life scenarios.


This year’s site was in Cincinnati, along the Ohio River but disconnected from the CBD by a major highway, Fort Washington Way. The students were charged with creating a cohesive mixed-use district that successfully wove this area back into larger urban and regional systems.




Team “Syn City” harnessed urban agriculture & autonomous transportation to develop a scheme to grow and provide food for Cincinnati’s local urban neighborhoods in the heart of the city.




Team “Over the Vine” extended Vine Street into a riverfront pier to make a strong connection with the Ohio River and through the CBD into the growing neighborhood of Over the Rhine.




Team “Cincinnati Greenway” emphasized pedestrian-scale green connections throughout the development area, encouraging wandering and discovery.

The Cleveland chapter of ULI generously supports the student competition each year. Professionals from the local design & development community volunteer their time to assist on evening reviews & critiques. We’re grateful to all our professional partners for their support.

Congratulations to all our students for their hard work!


Phenomenology and Ideation

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Free public lecture by James A. Garland, founder of Fluidity Design Consultants

18 March 2019 | 5:15pm
Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
1309 Euclid Avenue, 2nd Floor

How does phenomenological awareness and a practiced optics skill set inform the design process, and what are their conceptual limits? How does symbolic meaning relate to design today, and how might poetic integrity be distinguished from pragmatic ‘truth’? How can the regular analysis of historic examples relate to a vibrant contemporary practice? How are the issues of social equity, healthfulness and sustainability applied to contemporary water design in the public realm? Finally, how might a freshly minted ‘water idea’ provide a narrative and activate space? Jim Garland will briefly survey these topics with archetypal examples and current designs.


James A Garland founded Fluidity Design Consultants in 2002 after twenty years of practice in water design, architecture and urbanism. He holds a Masters degree in Architecture from UCLA, with a focus in architectural design and urban design. His undergraduate degree, also in architecture, was obtained from the University of Louisiana. James interned at Urban Innovations Group under Charles W. Moore, FAIA, an internationally celebrated architect who was known, among many things, for his enthusiastic and skillful use of water in architecture.

Fluidity was established to create a new generation of water features conceived, crafted, and engineered for a more sustainable century with a fresh, invigorating aesthetic.

Concurrently with directing Fluidity’s design efforts, Jim is writing two books about fountains, one covering a 2,000 year history of best examples, and the other focusing on Fluidity’s projects, with speculations on the future of water design.

Organized by the Kent State University Landscape Architecture Program, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, and Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.


Kent State’s Master of Landscape Architecture I program was awarded full accreditation status from the Landscape Architecture Accrediting Board (LAAB) in the Spring of 2018. The program is intended for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree with a major other than a design profession. Offered at the Kent State University’s Cleveland Studio located in the urban core of Cleveland, Ohio at Playhouse Square, an urbanized landscape edging the international waters of Lake Erie, the program offers students a local laboratory to study global landscape issues including: reclamation of urban vacancies, infrastructure systems, living architecture, natural resources and water quality for landscapes of health and social justice through inclusive and interdisciplinary design methodologies and community engagement while adapting to the demands of change brought on by the nature of the region and global practice.


Black Agrarianism & Access to Land in Cleveland


Ohio City Farm (GreenCityBlueLake, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

Please join us for a lecture by Justine Lindemann on Friday, March 1 at noon at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, 1309 Euclid Avenue, second floor.

Justine Lindemann is a PhD candidate at Cornell University and a lecturer in political science at John Carroll University. Her work explores the food system in Cleveland as a lens on racial inequalities in the city, and the ways in which communities work within the food system to create more equitable spaces (both figurative and literal).

Food production in Cleveland has become part of the political landscape, with everyone from members of City Council, Community Development Corporations, and Ohio State Extension investing in urban agriculture in some capacity. However, this does not necessarily translate to increased rights for mostly low-income communities of color to produce food (and spaces) within the city, or to have a voice in the political decisions around food production, urban development, and urban change.

This research is a foray into a particular moment in Cleveland’s history and geography. It is contextualized by both police violence and the spectre of black power activism; by a shrinking population and uneven capitalist development to bolster select neighborhoods; by an expanding ‘food scene’ and continued grocery store closings in predominantly black, historically redlined, neighborhoods.

The ways in which black residents engage with power hierarchies, the institutions within the city, the various communities and neighborhoods, and the limited resources available to produce (food) spaces within the city represent a powerful insight into the claims made for rights to and in the city.

This event is free and open to the public. You are welcome to bring your lunch. Snacks will also be served.


CUDC Spring Lecture Series


The Spring lecture Series at CUDC opens on Feb 1 at noon with a presentation by Jane Goodman, Executive Director of Cuyahoga River Restoration and Halina Steiner, Landscape Architecture Professor at Ohio State’s Knowlton School. Jane will talk about the Habitat for Hard Places initiative–an innovative project to restore fish habitat in the Cuyahoga River ship channel. Halina will share some of her students’ design ideas for both people and fish at the river’s edge. This program will take place in the CUDC Gallery, 1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200 in Downtown Cleveland.

On Feb 5 at 5:30pm, Anthony Rowe of Squidsoup will give a presentation entitled Immersive Experiences in Mixed Reality Spaces. This program will take place on the main campus of Kent State University in the Cene Lecture Hall in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

Other upcoming programs include:

March 1 at noon | Justine Lindemann John Carroll University | Black Agrarianism & Access to Land in Cleveland (at the CUDC)

March 8 at noon | Jeff Knopp  Behnke Landscape ArchitectureHistoric American Landscape Survey for Liberty Row (at the CUDC)

March 18 at 5:15pm | James Garland Fluidity Design Consultants | Phenomenology & Ideation (at the CUDC)

April 5 at 5:30pm | Walter Hood Hood Design Studio | Hybrid Landscapes (at the College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Kent State University)

April 12 at noon | Elizabeth Ellis Toledo Design Center | Dialoguing Toledo (at the CUDC)

All events are free and open to the public.



Squidsoup on the Detroit Superior Bridge

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The Cleveland Foundation has awarded a Creative Fusion grant to the CUDC to support a publicly accessible installation on the streetcar level of the Detroit Superior Bridge.

Since 2008, the Foundation has brought more than 90 accomplished or rapidly rising artists from around the world to Cleveland as part of an international arts residency program. In 2019, Creative Fusion artists will focus on the Cuyahoga River in Downtown Cleveland to celebrate the remarkable recovery of the river over the past 50 years. The Waterways to Waterways edition of Creative Fusion will bring together a group of six international and six local artists to focus on projects that connect the regenerative efforts for the Cuyahoga to global waterways. This two-pronged initiative will incorporate works that artists are doing in other parts of the world that inspire continuing progress in Cleveland and around the globe while providing lessons Cleveland can share with the rest of the world about how to revive and reimagine a river.


In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it caught fire 13 times. The river last burned on 22 June 1969. The spectacle of the burning river spurred federal lawmakers to establish water quality standards for US cities. In the 50 years since the last fire, the Cuyahoga River has experienced a remarkable regeneration and is now a major scenic and recreational asset in the city.


June 22, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the last time the river burned. The CUDC will join the City of Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability and many local organizations in Cuyahoga50, a celebration of the river’s recovery. We will work with Squidsoup, an arts collaborative based in the UK, to create a large-scale installation on the streetcar level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge.

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Squidsoup uses light, sound, computers, digital and physical artefacts to create dynamic immersive experiences. Their work is elemental by nature. Squidsoup has worked on water, in the air and on solid ground – in tunnels, unoccupied shopping malls, forests, parks and botanical gardens, lochs, public squares and art galleries. Their works respond to the wind, to the flow of people, data and water, with digital overlays conceived as liminal materials that inhabit the same spaces as we do, yet as boundary objects and elements, straddling the real and the imaginary. Squidsoup’s installation for the Detroit-Superior Bridge has not been finalized yet, but more details will be available this spring.

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As part of this project, the CUDC is also updating a 2012 Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative (TLCI) plan aimed at making the lower level of the bridge a year-round public space and bike/pedestrian connection. There will be opportunities for public input into this plan as the year unfolds.


For more information, sign up for the CUDC’s newsletter or follow us on social media for updates.


Habitat for Hard Places Event – February 1, 2019

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Please join us at noon on February 1, 2019 for a lecture by Jane Goodman, Executive Director of Cuyahoga River Restoration, and Halina Steiner, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at Ohio State University. Jane and Halina will discuss the Habitat for Hard Places initiative, aimed at improving fish habitat along the Cuyahoga River in Downtown Cleveland. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

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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Postcard sets are available free of charge at the CUDC, so join us for the lecture on February 1 and pick up a set. Or stop by (1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200) any time during office hours, or email cudc@kent.edu and we’ll send them to you.







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