April 21, 2015
It is with great enthusiasm that the Cleveland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects announces the official opening of the Center for Architecture and Design. The Center’s location, in the heart of Playhouse Square, will be a community resource for Cleveland design professionals as well as the public. The emphasis of the Center is not only to provide administrative and meeting space for AIA Cleveland as it continues to serve its members, but also to raise awareness on the value of architecture and design in our city and region.
This opening marks the culmination of almost two year’s worth of work. The planning process began in the summer of 2013 with a seven-member Task Force taking a broad look at the Chapter’s long-range plans relative to its mission. That mission is to promote the value of architecture and design, foster collegiality, advocate for local members, educate, and support architects as leaders in the community. From there, the Task Force analyzed its home office of the past ten years on Huron Rd and whether it met the Chapter’s present and long-term needs. The Task Force concluded that a more resourceful facility was desired that allowed for greater flexibility and more visibility to the public. With this goal and the mission of the Chapter in mind, the Task Force, assisted by the pro bono services of relator Kevin Riley of Weber Wood Medinger, began to seek options available for a new facility.
During the course of the search, the Task Force seriously considered eight different spaces, all centralized in the downtown area. While analyzing these options, it became clear that engaging our membership and the public from a storefront in the heart of Playhouse Square would be ideal in sending a message to our membership and the general public. That message is that we are an active organization that is inclusive, an important part of the community, and growing the next generation of leadership in Cleveland.
AIA Cleveland eventually found its ideal location at 2059 East 14th Street, directly adjacent to the entrance of the Hanna Theater. A 35’ wide storefront provides a window in on AIA Cleveland and the world of design for the community. At 1,100 square feet, it is 500 square feet smaller than the Chapter’s previous office space, but is more efficient in its layout which allows more space for events with less administrative and storage space. The more efficient size in turn creates an annual savings of approximately $5,000 for the Chapter. The space was fortunately an empty shell, which allowed AIA Cleveland to design it to best suit its needs. The design of the space was a collaboration between three firms who each generously volunteered their services: Richard Fleischman + Partners Architects as the Design Architect, Vocon as the Architect of Record, and Westlake Reed Leskosky performing all of the engineering. The construction cost of the build-out was rolled into the six-year lease. AIA Cleveland has an option to renew the lease for an additional five years beyond that.
The layout of the new space is flexible and will be able to accommodate lectures, meetings, receptions, continuing education seminars and exhibits for up to 50 guests. While AIA Cleveland holds many events larger than this, that size was ideal for the majority of events that take place throughout the year. For larger events, AIA Cleveland partners with the Kent State University CUDC, utilizing their gallery space just a half-block away.
With this launch of a new space for AIA Cleveland, there is a renewed opportunity to become more outward focused, a hub for architecture and design in Cleveland which bridges the gap between architecture and the public. With that goal in mind, the decision was made to brand the space as the ‘AIA Cleveland Center for Architecture and Design’. Through lectures, exhibitions, tours, film series, and collaborative programs with other organizations, the Center will celebrate design, explore creative possibilities for the future of our region, and highlight the contributions of local architects and designers. The Center will bring together multiple design industries – architecture, interior design, graphic arts, landscape architecture, urban planning, and others to strengthen our positive impact in the business and civic communities. Agreements have already been reached to allow these other organizations to use the Center, such as the International Interior Design Association and school programs such as ‘Look Up To Cleveland’.
The Center will exhibit design excellence and represent the talent and aspirations of AIA Cleveland members. A 72” digital display projected on the storefront glass will allow for both Chapter events as well as members work to be displayed to those passing through Playhouse Square. A gallery display system on the walls inside also allows for exhibits to be showcased, such as the one on display now which highlights the work of local female architects.
Another important feature of the Center will be the AIA bookstore. The bookstore, which currently features approximately 750 various items related to architecture and design, had only appeared at the Chapters large events in the past. The bookstore having a permanent home in the Center will present a unique retail amenity for residents and visitors to Playhouse Square. The intention of the bookstore as it evolves will be to focus primarily on Cleveland related architecture, design and art. AIA Cleveland has applied for grants which would allow for it to stay open extended hours, on the evenings before shows at the Hanna Theater.
The emphasis of the Center is to raise awareness on the value of architecture and design in our city and region. With this goal in mind, AIA Cleveland welcomes Richard Kennedy, of James Corner Field Operations as its opening lecture. As the Principal in charge of the Public Square project, Richard will discuss the aspirations of the redesign of Cleveland’s most prominent public space. Chris Ronayne, an instrumental member of the Group Plan Commission board, will help us in welcoming Richard. Please join us for this lecture at the Kent State CUDC, and then walk the half-block through Playhouse Square for the launch of the AIA Cleveland Center for Architecture and Design. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be provided. This Grand Opening event will take place on Wednesday, April 29th at 5:30pm. Click here to register and learn more.
Aaron Hill, AIA
AIA Cleveland President