Merit - Excellence in Architecture for Building Additions, Renovation or Adaptive Reuse

Kent State University

Design Innovation Hub
Kent State University - Design Innovation Hub
Jury Comments
““. . . beautiful repurposing . . . the transformation was phenomenal . . . engaged the original forms . . . looks new—you would never know it was an existing building . . . great breakdown of scale in what looks like a very large building . . .””


    • Site – 2.25 acres; Building – 68,000 sq ft renovation + 10,000 sq ft addition
    • LEED Silver
    • Original architect – John Andrews; Constructed – 1972
    • A limited palette complements the raw, industrial character of the building.
    • Expansive glass in the new envelope brings natural light into studio spaces.
    • The terracotta rainscreen system recalls the original Kalwall exterior in rhythm and color value.
    • Reuse of the original building’s steel structure resulted in significant carbon diversion while creating an ideal framework or a range of creative activities.
    • 70% of construction waste was diverted from landfills during the construction process.


The Design Innovation Initiative at Kent State was created to encourage students, faculty, and experts from diverse disciplines to become intersectional problem-solvers and fearless collaborators. As the central resource in a network of DI “nodes” at the university, the Design Innovation Hub (DI Hub) gathers dedicated spaces, tools, and technologies under one roof to evolve cultural collaboration and collective making. Through the creative re-envisioning of the original School of Art Building at the center of campus, the university was able to realize a highly visible maker environment that supports the “owned by all, shared by all” ethos of the Design Innovation Initiative.

When Kent State’s School of Art relocated to a new facility in 2016, the future of its former home was in doubt because of the extensive physical upgrades needed. The original building was an ambitious design with strong cellular geometry and an expressive design logic. It had a number of inspiring features, including its expressive structure and character
of interconnectedness between studio environments. This sensitive adaptive reuse process breathes new life into the structure and reconnects campus paths. Embracing the bones, character, and interconnectedness of the original design, the redesign brought daylight and views into the interiors to create welcoming, creative spaces and clear connections. The design and decision to undertake an extensive adaptive reuse process rather than demolish the building create a successful balance of a modern maker hub that also celebrates campus heritage and context.

The project retains the expressive spirit of its predecessor to create an academic environment that houses a range of classrooms, labs, studios, and workspaces. Strategic reuse of the original building capitalized on its prominent location to create a highly visible home on campus to invite the entire university community to explore and engage. The DI Hub’s significant dining component was integrated to respond to the master plan and a desire to provide more distributed offerings on campus while naturally drawing the campus community in to explore. New landscape paths and a clear interior concourse re-engage with campus circulation, providing enhanced pedestrian movement through to the May 4th lawn.

The DI Hub houses labs, makerspaces, tools, and technologies, providing an ideal home for students whether their focus is in art or engineering, computer science or fashion. At the DI Hub, a fashion student can collaborate with an engineer on wearables, and an art major can brainstorm technological solutions with a programmer—all within a space that embodies Kent State’s mission to provide applied real-world, interdisciplinary problem-solving skills.

Project Team

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson; Domokur Architects; Gilbane Building Company; Barber & Hoffman, Inc.; Scheeser Buckley Mayfield, LLC; Nelson Byrd Woltz; Knight & Stolar