Weiss/Manfredi to Design a Crystal Palace for Kent State Architecture School

Yesterday, Kent State University announced the selection of Weiss/Manfredi with Richard L. Bowen + Associates to design a new building to house the College of Architecture and Environmental Design. The winning scheme, the tiered, transparent 120,000-square-foot “Design Loft” situated adjacent to the campus’s now under construction Esplanade, beat out submissions from 36 other contenders, including Zaha Hadid, Thom Mayne, and Eric Owen Moss. The building, open 24 hours a day to accommodate the notoriously unrelenting work schedules of architecture students, will broadcast this round-the-clock activity through its translucent walls, becoming a beacon of light illuminating a new entrance to the campus as well as the upcoming pedestrian Esplanade connecting KSU to a nascent $100-million downtown district neighboring the campus.

“This is a new front door for people coming from the downtown hotel and conference center to campus,” said KSU President Lester Lefton, according to The Plain Dealer. “This is an investment, not an expenditure,” he added, responding to any instinctual skepticism about allotting $40 million for the project. “If we fail to invest our physical settings, we will fail Ohio.”

Lefton praised the winning design for its iconic yet still demure appearance, applauding the fact that it would not be a “wacky” building that could easily offend. With construction slated to begin next spring, Kent State anticipates occupancy occurring as early as December 2015.

Image: A rendering of the winning design, “Design Loft” by Weiss/Manfredi and Richard L. Bowen + Associates. Courtesy Weiss/Manfredi.

– Kelly Chan