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2018 MCHAP

Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design

Weiss/Manfredi Architecture

Kent, OH, USA

September 2016


Marion Weiss, Michael A. Manfredi


Richard L Bowen & Associates Inc (MEP/FP Engineer of Record) Weidlinger Associates International (now Thornton Tomasetti) (Structural Engineer of Record) Lighting Workshop (Lighting Design Consultant) Knight and Stolar (Landscape Architect of Record) Resource International (Civil Engineering Consultant) Gilbane Building Company (General Contractor)


Joseph Graham


Albert Vecerka


Acting as a gateway between the campus and the downtown areas, the project objective is to engage both the public and institution simultaneously. Dedicated programs are to be developed to promote the public’s interaction with the college while providing opportunities to share the student’s work both formally and informally. Prior to the construction of the CAED building, the architecture, interior design and research programs were dispersed throughout the campus with little interaction between disciplines. The project was to consolidate approximately 800 students and faculty of these programs under one roof to facilitate peer to peer learning, collaboration and interdisciplinary engagement. .The studio’s tiered design informs the building massing, bridging the institutional and residential scales of its neighbors. A continuous stair on the north façade connects studio critique spaces and creates opportunities for spontaneous discussion. The efficient form of the building maximizes daylight and minimizes energy use throughout. Conceived as a vertical campus quad, this cantilevered route interweaves the spaces of the building into those of the campus. The design presents an integrated approach to sustainability that maximizes passive opportunities including daylight and natural ventilation, employs efficient strategies for building and landscape systems, maximizes the use of regional and recycled materials, and supports sustainable maintenance and operations for future generations. As a model for sustainable design for the University and the city, Design Loft illustrates the key role of architecture and design in envisioning a sustainable future.


Kent State University and the town of Kent were physically separate entities for nearly a century. Within the last decade, the two parties engaged in a joint venture to strengthen connections though a new pedestrian esplanade and green space. The Center for Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) building is located along this esplanade to establish a physical gateway between the town and the University. Sited strategically at this hinge between campus and city, the Design Loft forms a new hub connecting the college with the City of Kent. Anchoring the public level is a continuous gallery that opens to the university’s new outdoor Esplanade. With the five story urban buildings to the west and three story academic buildings to the east, the building connects these elevations with an ascending roofline that shelters the studios that ascend above the western triple height library and fabrication lab. The site’s twelve-foot elevation drop allows the lower level fabrication lab and shop to receive natural light. The town and campus buildings share an architectural identity of stone and brick buildings. Located near Belden brick’s Ohio manufacturing plant.


The ethos of the CAED program is focused on real world training, research and sustainability. The design exposes building systems throughout while incorporating various construction practices for the student’s benefit. The project employs a series of ascending, tiered studio loft spaces which are flanked by supporting research and testing labs, exposing the community of learners to an entrée of new ideas. With a LEED platinum requirement, the project developed features that allow students to track in real time the building’s ground source heating and cooling system’s efficiency. Additional sustainable elements such as native planting and rain water collection/reuse systems are integrated into the architecture and engage the public. The building’s massing strategically enhances student interaction within the school while solving site challenges. By stepping the building up in scale in juxtaposition to the site’s topography, the project simultaneously engages varying residential, commercial, and institutional conditions. To further integrate the project into the context, an historic iron spot brick was chosen to blend the campus and town chromatically. A custom asymmetrical bullnose fin was developed to enhance the façade's language and respond to historical precedents within the area. The north façade features large glazed areas of curtain wall that coincide with the tiered studios bringing in desired northern light and providing panoramic views of campus and town. This simultaneously highlights and displays the vibrancy of the design process to the public, creating a dialog that previously did not exist.

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