By Aziza Jackson
KENT, Ohio — The Kent State University Board of Trustees approved a $3.2 million contract with Akron’s Signet Real Estate Group to lead the design phase for the new home for the College of Business Administration, a marquee building that is proposed to anchor the first phase of the Kent Gateway Plan.
The project is part of the university’s “Gateway to a Distinctive Kent State” $1.2 billion master plan to transform the Kent campus over 10 years. The new College of Business Administration building is proposed to anchor in the transformation of the Front Campus along East Main Street, which will include a signature gateway to the university, additional green spaces and a new parking deck.
“Our College of Business Administration is currently in a building that is really limiting their ability to deliver the programming they want,” said Michael Bruder, executive director for facilities, planning, and design at Kent State.
Bruder said that the current building has instructionally-fixed, tiered-seat lecture halls that make it difficult for students to do group work. He said that the new building would include flexible rooms for project-based learning and group work, and will also have a mock trading floor for students.
Also included in the new building’s design is a sort of Main Street of centers for various aspects of study within the College of Business Administration that will be lined up in the center of the building in order to highlight students’ research work, according to Bruder.
“There is a lot of causal social space for students to interact with each other,” said Bruder. “We will also be able to engage the rest of the campus in the downtown area of our city in ways that will be transformative.”
At its Sept. 12 meeting, Kent State’s Board of Trustees approved the $3.2 million contract toward the design phase of the project that is set to begin immediately and culminate in the summer of 2019.
In addition to study and gathering spaces, and common areas that will encourage greater collaboration among students, faculty, staff and business leaders, the proposed building also includes a variety of classroom and learning laboratories, and faculty and administrative offices. The new building is said to potentially model the type of learning environment that best supports students who will become the business leaders and entrepreneurs of the future.
“We are excited for the opportunity to create a new, iconic College of Business Administration building that will create a collaborative learning environment for business students from all over the world,” said Kevin Belt, vice president of development at Signet. “Kent State’s use of a P4 [public-private partnership plus philanthropy] approach to developing the project provides a creative development solution not previously utilized for a building of this type.”
Signet was chosen from four finalists as offering a vision with the best overall value and most cost-effective approach for completing the project.
The Akron-based firm has assembled a team to assist in the delivery of the new College of Business that includes a design team of Perkins + Will and The Collaborative Inc., a construction team of Turner Construction and Ozanne Construction, and an engineer team of Scheeser Buckley Mayfield, Barber Hoffman and CESO.
“The innovative design presented by the Signet team appropriately reflects the success and pride of the college and its alumni, by creating an environment that emphasizes forward-thinking, educational best practices to prepare students for business careers of the future,” said Dr. Deborah F. Spake, dean of Kent State’s College of Business Administration.