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Gwathmey Siegel Finishes Student Center for Cleveland State

9.2.10 | New York, NY | Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects (GSAA), designers of more than forty innovative academic buildings in the US and abroad, 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 refreshingly contemporary structure that gives a new sense of place to the university, and reconnects the university to the city of Cleveland.

Marking the start of the second phase of CSU’s master plan to reorient its campus, the 138,000-square-foot center enhances the campus” urban profile. Fronting on Euclid Avenue, downtown’s main commercial thoroughfare, GSAA’s center functions as a public gateway, creating an open link with the surrounding city while offering a wide range of services to students and faculty.

As GSAA Associate Partner and project architect Joe Ruocco says, “Our interactions with the CSU staff, administrators, and student representatives was key to formulating our approach, and our dialogue with the local community really enriched the design.”

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 engages and enlivens 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.

“We think of a student center as the “living room” of a campus,” says GSAA principal Robert Siegel. All the functions Gwathmey Siegel included in the building envelope — bookstore, dining, lounge, computer access, offices for student activities and conference meeting spaces — are 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.

pic of interior of new student centerInterior of the new Student Center

A simple, restrained palate of materials responds to the building’s urban context and expresses its functional components. 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, giving the building an additional dose of visual dynamism.

The opening of the CSU Student Center in Fall 2010 coincides with the completion of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s Euclid Corridor Transportation Project. That project, which places a rail stop just in front of the new building’s entry plaza, will complete the process of weaving the CSU Student Center into the urban fabric of a revitalized downtown Cleveland.

About Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects

Founded in 1968, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects is a New York-based firm offering master planning, architectural, interior and product design services. Gwathmey Siegel has completed over four hundred projects for cultural, educational, healthcare, corporate, government, and private clients throughout the United States and abroad. The firm has an international reputation for its work and is the winner of more than 100 design awards. The firm’s designs have been featured in numerous exhibitions and histories of contemporary architecture. Gwathmey Siegel & Associates received the American Institute of Architects' highest honor — the Firm Award — for "approaching every project with a fresh eye, a meticulous attention to detail, a keen appreciation for environmental and economic concerns and a strong belief in collaborative effort."

About Braun & Steidl Architects

Braun and Steidl Architects is the fourth largest architectural firm in northeast Ohio as ranked by Crain’s Cleveland Business. The firm has a 26-year history of making positive contributions to the built environment, and focuses its practice on public and private work in the higher education, K-12, hospitality, recreation, office/corporate and religious markets. Along with serving as architect-of-record on the Cleveland State Student Center, Braun & Steidl has designed the university’s Parker Hannifin Hall and Administration Center. Other notable projects include the Emerging Technologies and Energy Center at Cuyahoga Community College, six new community learning centers for Akron Public Schools, prototype hotels for Marriott International, and the Summit County Courthouse Annex. The firm has a staff of 41, with 22 registered architects and 14 LEED Accredited Professionals, and is a recipient of the AIA Ohio Gold Metal Firm Award.

About Cleveland State University

Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public research institution that provides a dynamic setting for engaged learning. With an enrollment of more than 16,000 students, 8 colleges and more than 250 academic programs, CSU provides a hands-on learning environment that connects students, ideas and real-world experience.

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