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CSU Unveils Vision for Downtown Campus

Master Plan proposal calls for major renovations and development of three campus districts

Proposed Multipurpose Arena CLEVELAND, OH (November 17, 2022) -- Cleveland State University has unveiled a new visionary Master Plan proposal capitalizing on its location in the heart of Cleveland that will guide the development of the University’s physical campus over the next decade.  

The estimated $650 million proposal is designed to support the university’s academic and research missions, enhance the student experience, increase and elevate on campus housing, expand partnerships and drive economic development.

“Our location in downtown Cleveland is one of our greatest assets,” said CSU President Laura Bloomberg. “As an urban public research university, we have a special obligation to serve the public good. For CSU that means providing an accessible, quality education for all on our campus, while serving as a catalyst for growth for our city and the region. Our master plan provides the infrastructure to support that mission.”

The plan, which still must be approved by the CSU Board of Trustees, calls for a mixed-use, compact campus core that strengthens corridors across campus and better connects the university to the surrounding city. It lays out a strategy for new and updated communities on campus that include the Academic Core, a Student Experience District, and a Partnership District.

Academic Core

Plans for the Academic Core, an area bounded by Carnegie and Euclid Avenues between E. 22nd and E. 18th, call for a renovated Rhodes Tower, new student housing, a new academic building, and a new campus quadrangle.

Rhodes Tower, now a classroom and office building housing the CSU library, will be completely re-imagined. Plans for CSU’s signature building call for student life and social space around the library on the first four floors of the building and 13-floors of new housing for nearly 500 students.

“Bringing together living, learning, dining and recreational spaces in our iconic building is designed to activate and energize our campus core,” said David Jewell, CSU senior vice president of business affairs and chief financial officer. “Rhodes tower will be the hub of a dynamic, active, 24/7 community.”New Academic Quad

The master plan is designed to provide a flexible framework for campus development. That adaptability is illustrated by two new academic buildings to the west of Rhodes Tower. The buildings will house active learning classrooms, laboratories and collaborative spaces and be designed to evolve with changing teaching and learning methods. One of the buildings will include campus housing.

A campus quad will be created between a new academic building and the Music and Communication Building to the south. The new quad will connect to the existing student center plaza – dramatically expanding greenspace in the campus core.

The academic core also includes plans for a Corporate Connector building to the East of Berkman Hall. The center will provide a “front door” to the University for corporate and other partners linking them to research, faculty experts, and a talented workforce made up of CSU graduates, and students.

The design also improves pedestrian access and movement through the area and includes critical intersection improvements at Chester and 21st, Chester and 22nd, Euclid and 21st, and Euclid and 22nd.

Student Residential Experience

The Student Residential Experience District planned for the area North of Chester Ave. between East 18th street and I-90 will feature additional student housing, student recreation and athletics facilities.

A signature element of the new residential and entertainment neighborhood is a new proposed multi-purpose arena that would replace the university’s venerable Wolstein Arena. The 5,000 to 7,000 seat arena will be home to CSU basketball, concerts and other events. It could also house learning spaces for complementary academic programs like sport and entertainment management.

The neighborhood connects Krenzler Field and the university’s softball field on the west side of campus to the new arena and current Student Rec Center in the east. Plans for additional recreation and athletics facilities include a new indoor field house and covered tennis courts.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to better link our students and the community to CSU athletics while creating vibrant entertainment opportunities in this part of downtown,” Bloomberg said. “We want enhance the experience for our students, student athletes and fans, and draw more visitors to campus.”

Three new residence halls are planned for the center of the neighborhood providing housing for nearly 1,400 students. Adding student housing is a key part of the University’s strategic plan to increase enrollment.

Partnership District

The planned partnership district on the current site of the Wolstein arena on Prospect Ave. could be home to nearly 800,000 square feet of mixed-use development designed to drive economic development in the area and connect partners to the university. Master Plan Looking West

“This district provides an opportunity for us to work with the city, county, and our education, corporate and health care partners to develop 10 acres of prime, downtown real estate next to a major RTA hub and a parking garage,” Jewell said. “The possible collaborations and benefits to the university and the community are only limited by our imagination.”

The University stressed that there are no firm timelines for implementing its proposal. The next steps in finalizing the master plan include seeking approval of the CSU Board of Trustees and development of detailed budgets, designs, timelines and funding.

CSU contracted with Sasaki, a global interdisciplinary architecture, planning, landscape and design firm with extensive experience in both urban and campus planning, to develop the master plan. The firm has worked with universities around the world including American University in Cairo, Arizona State University, Emory University, Purdue University, Loyola University and Case Western Reserve University locally.