Cleveland State University Student Center / Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects with Braun & Steidl Architects

© Brad Feinknopf

Architect:Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects (Design Architect) with Braun & Steidl Architects (Architect of Record)
Location: , Ohio,
Construction Manager: Heery International
Project Area: 138,000 sqf
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Brad Feinknopf

© Brad Feinknopf

The new Student Center at Cleveland State University has become the focus of community life for the University and the “living room” for students. The Center is dedicated to student activity space, student offices, lounges, a dining and food service, retail, meeting rooms, and a large conference center, and replaces a larger, 1970’s cast in place concrete structure. For the first time in the University’s history, the building provides a dedicated Student Center without the inclusion of other administrative and faculty offices. At the same time, the new Student Center engages and enlivens its downtown surroundings with large lawns and a broad entryway plaza sloping gently from the street front, a subtle and welcoming touch that also provides barrier-free access around the entire site and building.

site plan

Marking the start of the second phase of the University’s master plan to reorient its campus, the Center enhances the University’s urban profile. Fronting on Euclid Avenue, downtown’s main commercial thoroughfare, the Center functions as a public gateway into campus and creates a link with the surrounding city while offering a wide range of services to students and faculty. Situated among existing campus buildings and urban fabric across the street, the Center becomes an important object within a frame of existing context.


All functions included within the building envelope are positioned adjacent to a three-story, day-lit central atrium. The Euclid Avenue main entry leads directly into this circulation and activity space that also connects with the main campus central plaza to the north, elevated campus pedestrian ‘Innerlink’ bridges on the second level, and parking deck beneath the center.

© Brad Feinknopf

The Lower Level is mostly comprised of back-of-house service, loading dock, and the main catering and service kitchen for the building. Level one contains the central University Bookstore, pub, game room, and cyber lounge in which all maintain direct access and views to the exterior patios, main plaza, and city. The second level contains the primary residential dining and food court areas, convenience store, and student government office suite. The second level also provides direct access to the campus-the campus wide interior walkway system. Located on the third level are an 800-seat divisible conference center, pre-function spaces, student life administration and student organizations office suite. Exterior program space is also provided on outdoor terraces fronting Euclid Avenue and the main campus central plaza.


The simple palate of building materials responds to the Center’s urban context and expresses its functional components on the exterior. The central spine containing the atrium, interlink, and the connection from street to campus is articulated in a granite panel. The main block, enveloping the granite spine and containing the majority of office space, is clad in brick masonry. The remaining forms that are inserted into the main body are clad in aluminum panel systems. Sky bridges connect the Center on the second floor to the surrounding academic buildings allowing for pedestrian access through the campus-wide ‘Innerlink’ system that links all campus buildings through eight city blocks.


The Student Center is in the final process of obtaining LEED Silver Certification with the U.S. Green Building Council. During the demolition of the old University Center, 97% of waste was diverted from landfills and during the new construction 97% of waste was diverted. The building envelope and systems were designed to reduce the baseline energy use by 30% under standard practice. This was done by using continuous insulation on the building envelope, LED lighting tied with daylight and occupancy sensors, and an HVAC system that recaptures 50,000 CFM of the cooking exhaust air so that heat energy is recovered and reused during the heating season. 50,000 CFM equates to 50% of the total building supply air volume that would have been wasted if not recaptured by the building systems.

Text provided by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects with Braun & Steidl Architects.

© Brad Feinknopf

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "Cleveland State University Student Center / Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects with Braun & Steidl Architects" 21 Sep 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>