Photos by Anna Oprisch

Left: Work continues on the new Cleveland State College of Engineering building. Right: The $60 million, state-of-the-art facility should open in December 2017.

Sept. 18, 2017

Engineering building elements will teach students about their fields

Cleveland State University Architect Bruce Ferguson met with his team of eight in July 2015 to begin the design of the new engineering building.  From the beginning, the team collectively agreed this new space should not only be a place the students could learn in, but a space the students could learn from. 

How would they do that?  By leaving a lot of the building’s interior structure and ceilings exposed. This way, the students would be able to observe the structural elements and understand how the building functions and operates.

“Whether it’s through design or construction, in every way we’re trying to make this as student-oriented as a building as we can, not only in the function in the building, but in the design itself,” Ferguson said.

The concept of leaving part of a building exposed for the purpose of learning from it has been around for decades, but Cleveland State is “breaking ground” and incorporating this concept into a university building for the first time.

The whole design and construction process has provided a learning experience for students. In the initial stages of the design, Ferguson and his team would go to engineering classes to present their designs, engage the students and faculty and receive input. 

Travis Okel, the project manager from Gilbane Building Company, built a platform on the job site for students and faculty to observe the building process, and has done multiple hard-hat tours with groups of engineering students to show them the building in its various stages. 

Ferguson described this situation as a “win-win” for everyone involved in the process. He said, “A lot of these students graduating from the College of Engineering are going into fields directly related to the design and construction of buildings. What is a better lab for them than to have this experience literally right next door to where they take classes.”


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