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Green space integral to CSU

BY REID MAY
MAY 6, 2010

When planners at Cleveland State University begin considering the design of a new structure, a number of important elements are carefully considered. Green space and its impact on the atmosphere of the building, the environment and potential occupants, is always one of them.

“Creating a structure on an urban campus makes any green space that much more precious,” says Ed Schmittgen, university architect at CSU. “We want the green space we create to be here for a long time.”

To guarantee that longevity, Schmittgen and his team have created what they call the “green space network,” a proposal for connecting campus green spaces in an outdoor-innerlink style.

North Campus“The idea is to create a path that is equally convenient [to the innerlink] and links green across the campus,” Schmittgen says. To achieve this effect, planners have begun to establish primary paths through campus, which will focus a great deal on green areas.

“We want to encourage pedestrian movement out there,” says Schmittgen. “We love the innerlink, but we would like to encourage people to use outdoor paths.” On an east to west heading, Schmittgen focuses on Euclid Avenue and the green plazas and lawns that dot the street as you move past campus.

“I like the undulating free form edge along Euclid that sets the green space back,” says Schmittgen. “This change in appearance, gravitating away from the canyon-like look of many downtown streets, makes Cleveland State more inviting.”

“I think at Cleveland State, we wouldn’t have outdoor community if it were all cement,” says LeeAnn Westfall, co-founder of Student Environmental Movement, the group responsible for the rooftop garden at the recreation center. “It has really brought students together.”

“When you allow for green spaces around campus it enhances community interaction because those spaces naturally encourage interaction,” says Schmittgen. The main plaza and the science and research plaza are two prime examples Schmittgen cites.

The other green paths included in the master plan run north to south, along East 19th and East 24th streets. Long term, the three corridors should create a more connected campus.

“You want people to be able to flow through it,” says Schmittgen. “It is about connecting and interweaving. We think a lot about how to accomplish that.” Some of the obstacles confronting planners include the durability of plants and the viability of sites on campus.

However, benefits are immense. “CSU is the largest footprint downtown,” says Westfall.
“It is our responsibility to have green space to reduce pollution into sewer system and the velocity of rainwater, which can overwhelm the sewer system and lead to overflow.”

Westfall mentions direct student benefits as well, saying, “Nature helps you relax. It’s easier than going to the library—a serenity in the mix of all that concrete.” In fact, Westfall cites studies that show hospital patients who heal better with green spaces and expects similar results for students.