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No Banners for Kent State Hotel

Architecture board signs off on comprehensive sign plan for new downtown building

A sign plan for the new Kent State University Hotel was called "mundane" Tuesday by one member of the Kent Architectural Review Board, which issued the plan a certificate of appropriateness despite such criticisms.

Glen Dreyer, chairman of the architectural review board, criticized the sign plan presented to the board by the construction firm managing the project and the sign company that will build the signs.

Karen Durepo, of The Pizzuti Companies, the construction management firm, and Lou Belknap, of Agile Sign and Lighting Company, the firm designing the signs, presented a comprehensive sign plan to the architecture board different from signs depicted in an early architectural rendering of the building.

An initial rendering of the hotel and conference center included massive banners fixed to the building's brick facade on several of the elevations. But university officials have since nixed that element of the sign package.

"We decided against the graphics," Durepo, construction projects manager for The Pizzuti Companies, said.

Instead, the sign plan approved Tuesday includes mostly small, identical rectangular signs on three of the building's elevations. A "flag-style" sign about 13 feet in height and 2 feet wide that will be attached vertically to the hotel's northwest corner. And a fifth, rectangular sign will wrap around the canopy above the main entrance to the conference center off Erie Street.

The signs feature mostly a blue and gold color scheme Durepo said they got directly from the architect and marketing offices at Kent State.

Dreyer said he thought single letters would look better rather than the rectangular panels proposed, but overall he preferred the original depictions with large banner images of Kent State athletes and students.

"This comprehensive sign plan is an open door for over-exuberance," Dreyer said. "There's more signs than you need here. I thought the football players on the panels ... did a lot more for the building. This is just mundane."

He later called his reaction "an emotional response" and voted with the other three present members of the board to issue the project a certificate of appropriateness.

But Dreyer wasn't the only member of the board critical of the plan presented Tuesday.

Architecture board member Doug Fuller said the signs pitched Tuesday would look flat and without dimension.

"I like the signs on the original hotel drawings," he said.

Belknap said he was unfamiliar with the earlier architectural renderings, but he added university officials may propose additions to the sign package in the future.

The banners depicted in the earlier rendering were similar to ones already on the Kent State Library and Student Recreation and Wellness Center on campus.

The board issued the certificate of appropriateness for the comprehensive sign package with a few changes.

The flag-style sign will be rounded at the top, and the letters on it spelling out "Hotel" will be push-through letters to give the sign more depth. The same push-through style of letters will be applied to the sign on the conference center entrance canopy.

The signs, as proposed, do not meet the city's zoning code, but the comprehensive sign plan allows the project applicant to bypass the zoning code provided the Kent Planning Commission approves the comprehensive sign package.

The hotel's 94 rooms and 300-seat conference center are scheduled to open in June 2013. The project is a partnership between The Pizzuti Companies and the Kent State Foundation.

Elizabeth Eaken, a member of the architecture board, said she thought the size and placement of the signs was appropriate when considered with the overall building size and design.

Char December 05, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Students and football players on a downtown hotel, pics in this article make it look like a dorm on campus, not a hotel in downtown Kent.
Darci Kracht December 05, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I agree JTwo. I'm glad they nixed the banners.
David Reith December 05, 2012 at 10:07 PM
The hotel itself looks like it just came out of the 1930's.
William Gibson December 06, 2012 at 04:17 PM
The "flag-style" sign with the vertical-reading HOTEL letters is the worst! The antiquated look of this sign would be right at home with flashing neon that says "one hour rates" with a bunch of hookers hanging out directly below it.
h December 08, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I am glad the large graphics were not approved. Just because it is Kent and ksu is here, doesn't mean we need to plaster their sports as billboards at our major intersection on our new building. And it is 'ours'...watch your tax bill rise to pay for all of this. I am still on the fence as to whether I am glad for the cities participation in all of this or not. Although I definitely appreciate the acorn alley improvements!!! Often, less is more. Good decision on the signage!
h December 08, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Also, 'looking like it came out of the thirties', and 'antiquated' are the speak of someone who sounds like they want to move to Dubai where everything is ultra modern. No thank you. Keep it nicely flowing red brick. No shiny sky scrapers and neon flashing signs in my town!

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