Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design opens in Kent, Ohio

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The 117,000-square-foot Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) “Design Loft” by WEISS/MANFREDI, which was selected as the winner of an international competition, establishes an innovative center for the design disciplines and a beacon signaling Kent State’s creative, research-based programs.

Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design opens in Kent, Ohio
© Albert Večerka/Esto

A continuous gallery anchors the building’s main public level and opens up to a new esplanade that establishes a link between the university and the recently revitalized city of Kent as part of a joint redevelopment initiative. In addition, a café, gallery, library, 200-seat multi-purpose lecture room, and classrooms support a broad range of activities on the main level. Above, an expansive 650-seat design loft forms the heart of the building’s program alongside an ascending sequence of critique spaces. The building, which is currently on track for LEED Platinum certification, presents an integrated approach to sustainability that maximizes passive opportunities and employs efficient systems.

Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design opens in Kent, Ohio
© Albert Večerka/Esto

“We created continuous sightlines throughout the building to unite spaces of creation and critique, enhancing the peripheral vision between students and faculty and encouraging dialogue across the design disciplines,” state Marion Weiss and Michael A. Manfredi.

Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design opens in Kent, Ohio
© Albert Večerka/Esto

Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design opens in Kent, Ohio
© Albert Večerka/Esto

Design Highlights

The Kent CAED features:

  • Large glazed areas of curtain wall on the north façade that allow natural light into the studios and provide panoramic views of both the campus and city. On the south façade, a cantilevering fire stair offers sweeping views of the campus.
  • A dedicated materials library at the mezzanine level that overlooks reading areas on the ground level.
  • Research and fabrication labs including a wood shop, metal shop, digital fabrication lab, light lab, wind tunnel, construction management, and edaphic labs. A spacious outdoor work area enables students realize full-scale mockups.
  • An oval-shaped, glass-enclosed 200-seat event space situated at the center of the ground floor that supports classes, visiting lectures, and studio critiques.
  • A perimeter glazed mezzanine surrounding the machine room that permits observation of major mechanical systems, allowing the faculty to utilize the building as a teaching tool.
  • Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design opens in Kent, Ohio
    © Albert Večerka/Esto
  • A ground source heat exchange well field consisting of 130,400-foot-deep wells that maximizes the efficiency of the mechanical system.
  • A radiant floor heating system installed at the perimeter of the building that enables efficient distribution and regulation of individual room temperatures.
  • An 8,400-square-foot green roof manages storm water runoff and connects the Design Loft with the surrounding landscape.
  • Regional materials including a distinctive iron-spot brick façade fired in a bee-hive kiln by the local Belden Brick Company. Custom-designed brick fins provide shading for glazing on the south, east, and west façades.
In addition to WEISS/MANFREDI, the Kent CAED team includes: Richard L. Bowen & Associates, Architect of Record and MEP/FP Engineer of Record; Jaros, Baum & Bolles, MEP/FP and Vertical Transportation Engineering Consultant (Design Engineers); Weidlinger Associates International, Structural Engineer of Record; Resource International, Civil Engineering Consultant; Dynamix Engineering, Fire Protection Engineer Consultant; Lighting Workshop, Lighting Design Consultant; Knight and Stolar, Landscape Architect of Record; TEK Systems Design, LLC, IT; and Gilbane Building Company as the construction manager.