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April 17, 2014

Firm seeking feedback on master plan

By Timothy Simko

Cleveland State architects have appointed planning firm SmithGroupJJR to help finalize a master plan for the university. SmithGroupJJR is a nationally leading architectural firm that helped design Julka Hall in the past.

“We’re at the early stages of the master planning process and at this point in time we’re working to develop that vision with the help from students, staff, faulty, Deans, and Provost, just to name a few,” said Tony Nastasi, a representative of SmithGroupJJR.

According to Nastasi, SmithGroupJJR have assembled focus groups, a Steering Committee, and an Executive Committee to help create this master plan.

SmithGroupJJR has also made a visit within the past month to gather student opinions on what should be incorporated into the master plan. They have used a system involving a Cleveland State campus map and different colored stickers. Red stickers were placed on areas students felt should be completely restructured, yellow stickers were placed on areas that needed some improvements, and green stickers were placed on areas that needed little to no improvement.

“Our first visit to campus was to listen and understand all the great things about Cleveland State and also learn about what needs improvement,” Nastasi said. “The maps and stickers allow us to engage with all campus users, provide documentation, and track consensus on the pros and cons.”

Based on this system, it appears that Rhodes Tower and Main Classroom need a lot of work, according to Bruce Ferguson, director of planning design and construction in Cleveland State’s architect’s office.

“They [students] felt at a minimum that those buildings need a lot of work,” he said. “We hear that loud and clear.”

Ferguson also pointed out that students had a general consensus over wanting more gathering spaces and improved parking, but said some feedback was mixed.

“With 500 students you can get 500 different answers,” he said.

Ferguson said that one of the goals will be to make the areas around campus a safer. He hopes that they can put more lighting around campus and possibly increase patrols.

Nastasi explained that the master plan is a long-term plan that stems from an “academic vision” provided by the university.

“It will look at and provide recommendations for improved pedestrian and vehicular circulation as well as signage and wayfinding study for better mobility on and around campus,” he said. “The plan will also provide recommendations for memorable spaces and places that all are proud of.”

Representatives from SmithGroupJJR will be on campus all through April, May, and June according to Ferguson. They are encouraging students to give feedback through the master plan website csumasterplan.mindmixer.com, or by scanning the QR code below. In addition, there will be upcoming forums involving the master plan. A focus group will meet for one hour to discuss student related issues on April 25, according to Ferguson.

The students will also have an opportunity to provide feedback when SmithGroupJJR returns in May, as well as leaving comments on MindMixer so SmithGroupJJR can “make tweaks” to the master plan.

“Those are the ways that we believe we will garner student input,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson explained that the master plan will be finalized when balance can be found between the needs of the faculty and students. He said that the master plan will be a road map and that they want it to be meaningful.

“In equal measure, we are getting input from faculty and students,” he said.

Ferguson explained that once the master plan is finalized, it will remain on MindMixer for six months and that anyone can log on to MindMixer and print paper copies of the plan.
Ferguson is confident that when the master plan is finalized, that the campus will see many improvements.

“In the last five years, the university has changed dramatically,” he said. “Already before the master plan, look at the changes that have been positive. It is an exciting time to be a CSU student.”