Q&A with Jay Graham, Office of the University Architect Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Design; Alumnus

Jay Graham

Congratulations to Jay Graham who was promoted to Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Design and University Architect in August 2021! Jay has 20 years of experience, 17 at Kent State University.  Jay will be leading the Office of the University Architect (OUA) and supervising a staff of twelve professionals. Jay is responsible for managing construction and renovation activities on all Kent State properties.

  • What sparked your interest in in architecture? My father and uncle are both architects. So, from an early age I was exposed to construction sites and my dad’s drafting desk in the basement.  I spent so much time playing with his drafting tools and looking through the Sweet’s Catalogues that I couldn’t understand why other kids at school didn’t have these things in their basement.
  • What are your favorite accomplishments or projects you have worked on so far? One of my favorite projects was working on the John Elliot Center for Architecture and Environmental Design.  It was a once in a career opportunity to be part of such an amazing design team and collaborative construction process that was able to deliver Kent State it’s first LEED Platinum building.
  • What are you looking forward to working on? I am really excited about the opportunity to again be working along side an amazing design team and an equally talented team of colleagues on the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship.  This new facility will be a transformation project not only for the students and faculty within the college, but also for the north edge of the Kent Campus by anchoring the gateway entrance to campus.
  • How does sustainability manifest itself in what you do at Kent State University? I like to remind those that we work with that buildings are each prototypes, they are not manufactured on an assembly line where you get to adjust and make changes as you learn from problems along the way.  Each building is unique.  The buildings that we design are a collection of thousands of products that are assembled to create a built environment that we hope will inspire great teaching, creative thinking, and places for our students to thrive in their academic and personal growth.  All of those products have to be researched, studied, and engineered to be purposefully assembled to create safe and healthy buildings.  Therefore, though the design process we feel a great responsibility to ensure that our buildings are a collection of the most sustainable elements, while ensuring the building is engineered to be resilient enough to meet the needs of our students, faculty, and staff for the next 50 years.
  • Where is one of your favorite spots to visit on campus? And what makes it your favorite?  I really enjoy the Portage Bike and Hike Trail from campus to Dix Stadium.  Most of the year you can find me walking or jogging the trail at lunch time.  It offers a great opportunity to escape from the office and technology (mostly) to get some fresh air and some exercise along the way.  I especially enjoy passing the CDC outdoor playground and recalling the time spent there with each of my three boys.  There is even a ‘Do Not Litter’ sign design by my oldest son while at the CDC (some 10 years ago) along the trial that I visit each trip past.

Thank you Jay!

Kent State University Office of The University Architect