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05/30/2018
Cleveland Akron
Profile Project: Kent State University, Taylor Hall Renovation designed by Bialosky Cleveland

Previously the home of the College of Architecture and the School of Journalism, Taylor Hall has transformed to house the Schools of Visual Communication Design (VCD) and Communication Studies. Built in 1968, the building was the backdrop of the Kent State shootings on May 4th, 1970 and features an expanded Visitor Center and new Reflections Gallery memorializing the event.

The site’s historic landmark status created limitations on the project scope, with no exterior modifications permitted. The significant interior renovation included 60 private offices, 17 classrooms, a new art gallery, four photo studios, additional restrooms, and dynamic lounge spaces for students.

The existing building has two levels meeting grade with numerous entry points into the building. One of the main design challenges was to create a unified entry lobby on the second floor that represented the two distinct academic programs.

A pass-through gallery was created to connect the two main entry vestibules. Custom CNC cut panel systems flank the far sides of each lobby, creating visual interest and setting the tone for the graphics and wayfinding throughout the building. Eight mobile partitions are used for flexibility in defining the gallery space, enabling each art show to be unique. A wire mesh curtain hides within wall cavities when open and secure the gallery during closed hours. The inner walls of the vestibules are lined with projection film to welcome the building users with a variety of messages, graphics, and student artwork.

The pattern language that starts with the backlit CNC panels transitions into a custom wall graphic, leading occupants through the lobby. The playful yet refined geometric patterns continue through the staircases and public corridors on all levels. The boldness and aesthetics of the graphics are tailored on each floor to strengthen the identity of each program. Introducing vibrancy to a 60-year old Brutalist building had inherent difficulties that were met with creative solutions. A bright blue that hints to Kent States signature navy was applied throughout, injecting new energy into the building.

Taylor Hall’s refreshed interior inspires students and intrigues visitors. The reinvigorated campus building hosts widely-attended student art shows and serves as a vehicle to connect campus and community through creative arts. The renovation successfully elevated both academic programs, attracting new and diverse student talent and engaging alumni.

All Images: Copyright, Scott Pease/ Scott Pease Photography

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