Merit - Excellence in Planning for an Existing Campus

Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University Campus Master Plan
Cleveland State University - Cleveland State University Campus Master Plan
Jury Comments
“. . . creative plan, well presented . . . connects to regional planning ideas . . . robust input process . . . good strategies for growth in a space-constrained urban context . . . clear, campus-wide engagement . . . goals translatable to results . . .”


    • Site – 85 acres
    • CSU is an urban campus in downtown Cleveland.
    • One of the guiding pillars of the planning process was the mission to serve as a campus for all.
    • The plan identifies strategies to advance partnerships and engagement with the city and region.
    • Multi-modal transit routes connect to the larger urban context.
    • The plan includes new buildings to address anticipated growth and realize strategic goals.
    • The plan increases housing from 2,200 beds (~14% of all students) to 4,500 (~28%).


The Cleveland State University (CSU) Campus Master Plan aligns with the university’s growth-oriented strategic plan. The strategic plan articulates a vision for an urban student-focused public research institution that provides accessible, affordable, and engaging learning opportunities for all. Accordingly, the master plan touches the full spectrum of university activity: academics and research, residential life, wellness, open space, mobility, infrastructure, and sustainability. The master plan serves as the physical manifestation of this strategic plan over the next ten years, creating a more robust living-learning ecosystem and redefining the university’s historical identity as a commuter campus.

Stakeholders from various university departments collaborated extensively in the planning process. Due to the unique circumstances posed by COVID, the planning team created a suite of online tools to support a highly participatory virtual engagement process, including an interactive map-based survey. The outreach process also included meetings and coordination with representatives from the city, local NGOs and nonprofits, adjacent institutions, and consultants working on parallel projects with the university and city.

The campus plan included an extensive analysis of space quantity, space quality, utilization, and research funding metrics to understand programmatic needs. The result of that analysis is that CSU has sufficient space to accommodate current teaching lab and research demands, but several qualitative improvements are needed to meet contemporary needs. The resulting lab renovation strategy prioritizes programmatic adjacencies, increased flexibility and efficient use of space, and more support space to promote higher rates of shared use.

The plan advances engagement with the city by bringing future campus development closer to the urban corridors of Euclid and Chester Avenues and locating partnership facilities, including the Corporate Connector, along these streets to serve as a welcoming gateway experience. Building reuse includes Rhodes Tower, currently office space, reimagined as a residential facility with the library and additional student life space at the base. And in the campus core, the Student Center Plaza expands to the west with an additional academic quad in the location of a former garage, providing social gathering space and better outdoor connectivity.

Project Team

Sasaki – Tyler Patrick; Mary Anne Ocampo; Dennis Pieprz; Margit Liander; Diane Athaide