Delayed KSU Gateway master plan, reshaped by COVID-19 pandemic

Although the first of three phases of the Kent State University Gateway master plan has been halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, progress continues in building the future of the campus.

“We’re still in phase 1,” said Jay Graham, executive director of facilities, planning and design and university architect in a recent interview with the Record-Courier.

In total, the 2018 master plan could cost as much as $ 1.2 billion and take 10 years to complete, according to the university.

Following:KSU master plan divided into phases

Dominica Hoover, a major junior in visual communication design, owns a product example of the polyjet 3D polyjet laser printer.  The printer is the newest model and currently the only one in service in Northeast Ohio.

So far Graham has said that three major Phase 1 projects have been completed: the Design and Innovation Center on Janik Drive, the new Kent State University airport classroom building and the lower level of the integrated science building.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a pause in planning and work on the master plan, Graham said.

“In the spring of 2020, at the start of the pandemic phase, we put many of our projects on hold so that we could reserve resources as we begin to deal with the pandemic,” he explained.

Following:Kent State’s transformation plan becomes reality

During this construction disruption, Graham said conversations about the design continued as it became clear that the pandemic would likely fundamentally change education.

“We looked to the future in terms of pedagogy and the delivery of instruction,” he said. “We had a lot of conversations about how we would transition to online learning. “

The most significant change to Phase 1 so far has been the elimination of plans for a multi-level parking garage next to Midway Drive, according to Graham.

“This discussion of e-learning led to an analysis of parking,” he explained. “We had just received the deposit for the parking lot. In February 2020, we had the money to build the bridge as we intended to do, but we started to wonder if we were going to need 1,100 space parking.

Through a reallocation of the parking lot, he said the net effect of not having a parking platform would be the loss of 200 spaces. With potentially more students attending classes online, he said likely not as many parking spaces would be needed in the long run.

Graham said the future of Verder Hall was unclear. Although traditionally a residence, it currently serves as an isolation and quarantine space and can serve as a training space during renovations and construction associated with the master plan. Graham said it could eventually be demolished to help make room for parking in the area, but that’s not a sure thing.

As it stands, he said Terrace Drive would meander behind Crawford Hall, the new commercial building that will be located near the Terrace Hall site, and intersect with Midway Drive. Work on Crawford Hall is scheduled to begin in December and should be ready to welcome students in fall 2024.

In addition to diverting Terrace Drive, the university plans to remove the parking lot in front of White Hall, which passers-by on East Main Street see every day. The parking lot currently marks the end of sparsely wooded lawns descending from the oldest buildings of the university. With the elimination of parking, this lawn will be extended further east.

The pandemic has also reshaped plans for teaching spaces, Graham said. For example, a classroom design tested this year in seven locations tries to replicate a regular classroom experience for remote students and instructors as much as possible.

In a rendering of a classroom, a teacher faces rows of classroom desks and also a series of monitors mounted on the walls, all facing the teacher who can teach from a normal position in front of the class . Graham said distant students on Zoom or similar technology would be able to see the instructor.

“It also benefits the instructor,” he added. “During the pandemic, we heard our teachers say they were teaching pinhole cameras in their laptops. This is a familiar pedagogical approach for the faculty member.

He also said that large teaching spaces are generally designed with flat floors, as opposed to amphitheatres with raised rows overlooking the instructors. One of those spaces is a 120-person auditorium in the aeronautics and engineering building expansion, a $ 19.6 million upgrade that opened in the fall.

“That’s really how we look at redesigning and re-delivering in these spaces,” Graham said. “They can be configured in a number of ways easily. “

In addition, he said the aeronautics and engineering auditorium could function in conjunction with the large 2.5-story atrium.

“They will have this overflow space that can be used as a pre-function space, space for poster sessions, job fairs; there are a lot of opportunities to use these two spaces together in collaboration, ”he said.

Future phases

Graham said the university is not yet focusing on the details of Phases 2 and 3 of the Gateway master plan, but the university has a roadmap.

In addition to Phases 2 and 3, Graham said there are additional projects that are not dependent on prior work.

One of them, the Intergenerational Village, is currently being planned. The village would be located next to Campus Center Drive, along Allerton Drive, according to Doug Pearson, associate vice president of facilities, planning and operations. He said the original vision was for around 1,000 residents of different ages to move there and want to access the amenities offered at the university and in the town of Kent.

Other planned improvements that are not designated under a specific phase include renovations to Stadium Dix, a new addition to an athletics hall and a new women’s softball complex.

Various indoor and outdoor recreational upgrades are also planned. In addition to renovations to the MACC Annex, renovations to the Glauser Music School and the KSU Airport Master Plan are underway.

Phase 2 would include research expansion with improvements to the lower level of the Integrated Science building, Cunningham Hall, Williams Hall and Phase 1 of a research building, according to the university’s website.

Phase 3 would include the demolition of the existing business administration facility, renovation of the library tower and more, according to the website.

Do you have a business or healthcare story you’d like to share? Journalist Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, [email protected] and @bobgaetjens_rc.

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