The main campus of Tri-C is getting a new look

After more than 50 years, a transformation is occurring at the Metropolitan Campus of Cuyahoga Community College. Planned renovations promise to inject new energy into the Metro campus, which will transform a setting virtually unchanged since its opening in the 1960s.

The revitalization involves two projects — an overhaul of the Campus Center building and reconstruction of the plaza walkways that carry visitors across the grounds. The projects will result in a total modernization of the Metro Campus that will transform how the campus is used to teach and learn and how students interact with each other. The goal of the new space is to inspire, engage and spark creativity.

A complete change
The Campus Center project, managed by Turner Construction Co., will leave a building unrecognizable from the current hulking structure. Workers will peel off the building’s outer skin and demolish the interior, leaving only the skeletal remains of the original frame. Next comes the rebuild.

Renderings designed by Bialosky + Partners Architects show a finished product with a glass exterior gently curving toward campus. Windows dominate the façade on the building’s front, side and back to reveal sweeping views and bathe the interior in natural light.

The new design maximizes the building’s existing on-site footprint, adding 11,000 square feet of usable space. The roomier accommodations expand student social areas as well as classroom and meeting space. Plans call for the updated Campus Center building to reopen in time for fall semester in 2018 as the centerpiece for Metro Campus activities.

The building’s three floors will offer amenities such as:
■  A Barnes & Noble bookstore featuring a coffee shop.
■  A food court and dining area that includes seating in an outdoor courtyard.
■  Offices for student government and Tri-C’s award-winning student newspaper.
■  Classroom space for High Tech Academy and other college prep programs.
■  A conference hall for receptions and public meetings.

An urban oasis
In addition, architects included unique touches such as “seating cubbies” — essentially study nooks built into the walls — and bench seating along the main staircase to encourage students to spend time in the Campus Center. The outdoor plaza renovations will also provide a welcoming space for students and will touch every corner of Metro Campus. The makeover will convert the current concrete canvas into an urban oasis lush with greenery.

Planned walking paths will wind through gardens, trees and lawn areas spread across the grounds. Benches will provide spots to sit and relax in a pleasant environment that reflects a traditional campus feel. The Campus Center project will cost an estimated $38 million, while the plaza renovations are projected to total $28 million.

State funds are expected to cover nearly half of the combined cost. The two projects build on the ongoing revitalization of Cleveland’s Campus District. Located just east of downtown, the district has seen significant investment in the past few years to create a more vibrant space for students and community members.

Alex Johnson, Ph. D., is president at Cuyahoga Community College.