New Centre for Student Life Re-integrates Campus, City
Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects (GSAA), have just finished work on a new Student Center for Cleveland State University in downtown Cleveland. Working with firm Braun & Steidl Architects, GSAA has designed a contemporary structure to give a new sense of place to the universityâand reconnect the university to the city of Cleveland.
Marking the start of the second phase of CSUâs master plan to reorient its campus, the 138,000-square-foot center is designed to enhance the campusâ urban profile. Fronting on Euclid Avenue, downtownâs main commercial thoroughfare, GSAAâs center should function as a public gateway, creating an open link with the surrounding city while offering a wide range of services to students and faculty.
GSAA project architect Joe Ruocco says, âOur interactions with the CSU staff, administrators, and student representatives was key to formulating our approachâand our dialogue with the local community really enriched the design.â
The new facility is dedicated to student activity space, dining and food service, retail and meeting rooms, becoming the focus of community life for the university. At the same time, the new center intends to engage and enliven its downtown surroundings: visitors entering from the Euclid Avenue side are greeted with verdant lawns and a broad entryway that slopes gently from the street front, a subtle, welcoming touch that also facilitates access for the disabled.
âWe think of a student center as the âliving roomâ of a campus,â says GSAA principal Robert Siegel. All the functions Gwathmey Siegel included in the building envelopeâbookstore, dining, lounge, computer access, offices for student activities and conference meeting spacesâare housed on three stories surrounding a central atrium. The Euclid Avenue main entry leads directly into this sky-lit circulation and activity space, which also connects with campus pedestrian bridges, the main plaza, and below grade parking behind and beneath the center.
A simple, restrained palate of materials was chosen in response to the buildingâs urban context and to give a higher emphasis to the functional components of the project. The central block containing the atrium and interlink from street to campus is articulated in granite; the flanking walls and windows are clad in brick and aluminum respectively. Skybridges connect the center to the surrounding academic building.
The opening of the CSU Student Center in Fall 2010 coincides with the completion of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authorityâs Euclid Corridor Transportation Project. That project, which places a rail stop just in front of the new buildingâs entry plaza, should weave the CSU Student Center into the urban fabric of a revitalized downtown Cleveland.