February 18, 2015
Plans would transform vacant, gutted floor into stylish, shared office
A local economic development organization recently turned to CIA when it needed fresh ideas for converting a gutted office floor into a vibrant co-working space. CIA’s Interior Architecture students came through – producing designs that will thoroughly transform the space, and in the process learning more than a textbook ever could have taught them about designing for a real client.
Students presented their designs in a public event at JumpStart in late February.
The project came about because MidTown Cleveland, Inc. is in talks with a Pittsburgh company, The Beauty Shoppe, that wants to open a co-working space for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other professionals who need a meeting and work space, in the historic Victory Center in the MidTown portion of the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor.
When Lillian Kuri, the Cleveland Foundation’s program director for architecture, urban design, and sustainable development, recognized the opportunity and need for design concepts, she recommended CIA. Kuri suggested that CIA apply for a grant and the Foundation ultimately funded CIA’s participation in what became a semester-long project.
“I think this project represents a unique opportunity to engage the talents of CIA and its students in the remaking and renaissance of this city. The opportunity to engage tomorrow’s designers and artists to solve current and future problems is tremendous,” Kuri said.
CIA’s Interior Architecture Department Chair Mike Gollini jumped at the chance to involve his students in such a valuable learning experience.
“The Victory building project has been a wonderful opportunity for our students to work with a real client on a terrific space, challenging their creative skills and gaining a professional work experience,” said Gollini. “The co-work entrepreneur model is an exciting and contemporary concept that lends itself so well to the historic beauty of the Victory building.”
As CIA students learned last fall, the co-working space envisioned for the historic Victory Center on Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue needs to be inviting, with a compelling design that helps create an upbeat atmosphere. At the same time, the space needs to be highly functional and convenient for professionals with a variety of needs.
Co-working spaces are a new trend in business real estate, typically offering a range of amenities to professionals at various membership levels.
Bloomberg Business referred to co-working spaces as “destinations for freelancers and entrepreneurs who want an office that doesn't double as a kitchen table or their kid's playroom.”
“Our students are potentially the future users of such a space so why not have them design and imagine how the space should work and look,” Gollini said. “Having a space like the Victory Building is the kind of forward thinking that Cleveland needs. And how great is it that they are only a few blocks up the street from CIA?”
The fit is just right for the Health-Tech Corridor, with its mix of office spaces, labs, and restaurants and its soon-to-be installed advanced fiber optic network (which will be the first, commercially available, 100-gigabit Internet connection in the country).
Jeff Epstein, director of the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor, was delighted with the concepts that CIA students presented.
“We were thrilled to partner with the Cleveland Institute of Art on this exciting and important project for Cleveland’s Health-Tech Corridor. I was inspired by the creativity and thoughtfulness of the students’ approach to what was a challenging project, and look forward to capturing some of their ideas and energy in the final design of the co-working space,” Epstein said.
“The evolution of the student concepts from the initial design review to the final presentation was dramatic, and a testament to the students’ ability to listen and adapt their concepts to meet a client’s needs,” he added.
MidTown Cleveland, Inc. is a nonprofit, economic development corporation that serves a two-square-mile area between downtown Cleveland and University Circle, the neighborhood that includes the CIA campus. The three-mile, 1,600-acre Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor connects MidTown to the Campus District and greater University Circle area. Health-Tech Corridor represents a partnership among MidTown Cleveland, the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Foundation, and BioEnterprise, a nonprofit focused on the creation and growth of biotech businesses.
Above: In the future home of a co-working space in Cleveland's Victory Center are, from left, Rabih Helou and Matthew Ciccone from The Beauty Shoppe; Lillian Kuri from the Cleveland Foundation; Jeff Epstein from Health-Tech Corridor; students Samantha Piercy, Dylan Nance, Olivia Williams, Shane Carey, Shriya Garg, Huina Wu, Michael Roth, Laure Back, Xiaowo Tang, and Robert Williams; adjunct faculty member Patrick Finegan; Associate Professor Mike Gollini.
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