From simple and functional to splendidly provocative, four proposals vying to become reality as Kent State University's new College of Architecture and Environmental Design were presented to the public Thursday.
The university hosted the four partnerships competing to design the $40 million building by providing a forum so the architects could pitch their ideas for "solving the problem," as one presenter put it.
The challenge: capture the renewed town-gown synergy, combine it with the raw energy of architecture studios — filled with bright, young minds — and create a building that represents the symbolic and historic significance of a new link between the city and university.
"As far as I'm concerned this is more exciting than the finals of American Idol, the Oscars and the Super Bowl combined," Kent State President Lester Lefton said.
"One of the designs we unveil ... will be built on our Esplanade, the walkway that will soon extend directly into downtown Kent," Lefton said. "This landmark location makes a strong statement about the inextricable link between our campus and the city we've called home for more than a century."
The four partnerships remaining in the design competition are:
- Bialosky + Partners Architects, with offices in New York and Cleveland, in association with Architecture Research Office of New York
- WEISS/MANFREDI Lead Designer + Richard L. Bowen & Associates Architect, with offices in Cleveland and New York.
- The Collaborative Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, in association with the Miller Hull Partnership of Seattle
- Westlake Reed Leskosky with offices in Cleveland and four other cities
The four finalists were among an original 37 submissions from firms around the world who wanted to take part in the design competition.
A five-person jury will determine the winning firm, which will be announced in February. The jury is comprised of: Vivian Loftness, professor at Carnegie Mellon University; Brad Lynch, Brinistool+Lynch Architecture Design; Joan M. Soranno, vice president FAIA; Douglas Steidl, dean of Kent State's architecture school; and Michael Bruder, director of design and construction in Kent State's architecture office.
The 122,000 square foot building will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified, which means the building will be highly energy efficient per the internationally recognized green-building standards.
Models of the proposals with further renderings will be on display in the Kent State Library for public viewing. University officials are asking the public to offer feedback on the four proposals via email at email@example.com.
The $40 million architecture building is part of $170 million in renovations planned for the Kent campus.
"All told, the changes will be historic in size, scope and significance," Lefton said.
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