Kent State has selected Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism and Richard L. Bowen & Associates as the winning team to design a new Department of Architecture and Environmental Design building for the university's Kent, Ohio campus. From a field of 37 firms that applied to the initial design competition, the university selected four finalists in November 2012; these teams presented their design schemes in January. Shortlisted teams for the $40 million commission also included Bialosky + Partners Architects with Achitecture Research Office, The Collaborative with Miller Hull Partnership, and Westlake Reed Leskosky. But the university chose the proposal by Weiss/Manfredi and Richard L. Bowen & Associates—which they dubbed "Design Loft"—because of its visibility, both from within the building, and from the surrounding campus. Douglas Steidl, dean of Kent State’s architectural program, said in a release that the winning proposal “provides the College of Architecture and Environmental Design with a striking idea about both the visual and functional aspects of our programs.”
Kent State’s architecture program is currently divided into three separate buildings, but with the new building, the school will be united in the 120,000-square-foot structure near downtown Kent. The organizational scheme put forward by Weiss/Manfredi and Richard L. Bowen & Associates emphasizes connectivity, both with its surrounds and within the school itself. “We are captivated by the potential for this project to become an innovative incubator for the arts and an internationally legible destination for the University,” said principals Marion Weiss, FAIA, and Michael Manfredi, FAIA. The tiered design of the new building will promote inter-studio discussions, and transparent glazing will engage the public from outdoors. Open studio design will allow for flexibility within the program as it evolves within this new setting. Key sustainable features include a green roof, and ample daylighting from clerestory windows. Construction on the new home of Kent’s Department of Architecture and Environmental Design is set to begin in spring 2014, with expected occupancy by December 2015.
For more details and images of the winning proposal by Weiss/Manfredi and Richard L. Bowen & Associates, visit ARCHITECT 's Project Gallery.