Kent State Architecture Students Redesign Local City Following Downtown Fire

On March 22, 2014, a massive fire swept though historic Garrettsville, Ohio, destroying an entire commercial block and 13 businesses. Residents in the quaint Portage County village of just over 2,200 people immediately began pulling together, with efforts to relocate the local food bank, which was consumed in the blaze. Some business owners promised to rebuild, but it was clear that the tragedy dramatically changed the character of the village forever.

Today (Friday, July 25), 12 students from Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design will present 11 proposals reimagining Garrettsville. The students will display their visions on about two dozen poster boards. The presentations will take place today from 6-8 p.m. at the village city hall, located at 8213 High St. in Garrettsville. The event is open to the public.

Adil Sharag-Eldin, Ph.D., associate professor of architecture at Kent State, explained that the proposals involve much more than just replacing downtown buildings.

“It comes from the expanded definition of sustainable design,” Sharag-Eldin said. “Sustainable design includes environmental, social and economic development. So we’re looking at the village from that wide perspective. We want to see how our knowledge be used to help the village.”

Sharag-Eldin said his students started with extensive research.

“We investigated and learned about Garrettsville,” he said. “We looked at the tax base, demographics, ages, income, jobs, where people work and the pattern of growth of the whole village. With this deeper understanding, we came up with individual proposals to address the issue of economic development.”

They include, of course, rejuvenating the heart of downtown that burned down, but they also provide a means for the community to get together.

“The fire, event though it was devastating and caused all sorts of problems for a lot of people, brought the community together. So we wanted to make sure the community remains at that level of collaboration and cooperation.” 

For more information about Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, visit www.kent.edu/caed.

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Media Contacts:
Adil Sharag-Eldin, asharage@kent.edu, 330-672-0935
Eric Mansfield, emansfie@kent.edu, 330-672-2797