cleveland institute of art unifies with new uptown building

For the first time in four decades, the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) campus will soon be in a single location. The college has been operating as a split campus since 1976 when it outgrew the original George Gund Building on East Boulevard, adjacent to the Cleveland Museum of Art, and began renting space at the Joseph McCullough Center for Visual Arts at 11610 Euclid Ave., a half mile away. With the addition of the new, 80,000 square foot George Gund Building on Euclid Ave., operations will be centralized by fall semester.

“There's a street life, there's a vitality,” says CIA president Grafton Nunes of the centralized location within Uptown. “It almost comes across like a Harvard Square here in Cleveland. Students feel like they’re in the center of urban excitement.”
Founded in 1882, CIA has garnered acclaim as a leader in arts education, boasting alumni who have gone on to design products or show artwork around the world. Plentiful resources, such as partnerships with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Clinic, and Western Reserve Historical Society, offer immersive urban-based learning opportunities to its body of 550 students.

Just as collaboration has always forged new paths in the art and business worlds, it has played a driving force in plans for the new CIA campus. The new campus will be a thriving environment where students studying different disciplines can work side by side. As the “open office” concept continues be seen more and more within the creative sector workplace, one of CIA’s goals for its new home is to become a kind of model to their students’ future real world encounters.
CIA rendering showing the high-definition video mesh above the entrance  
“When you go into any kind of design endeavor these days, people don't work sequestered in little rooms anymore,” says Nunes. “There is a very open plan approach and we really want to model the best practices of the professions and crafts our students are going to enter into in their learning environment.”
The school hired Stantec architectural firm to design the new Gund building and enlisted Panzica Construction as the general contractor. CIA broke ground on the $75 million project in June 2013. Major construction was completed in December 2014 and finishing work is slated to continue throughout the summer. The former Gund building on East Boulevard will soon become the property of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The new Gund building complements the stunning new Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). The Gund building's entrance will be directly aligned in view of MOCA. Oversized windows along the ground-level will offer a glimpse of the bustling activity inside. And much like MOCA’s use of experimental mixed-media, CIA also plans to have a 35’ x 50’ high-definition video mesh above the entrance that will display a spectacle of still and moving images visible to eastbound traffic.
The new CIA lobby

Once inside the lobby, students and visitors will be greeted with the transplanted Reinberger Gallery, which showcases work by students, community members and traveling artists throughout the year. The new Fran and Jules Belkin Media Gallery, a black box theater dedicated to video installations, is located steps from the Peter B. Lewis Theater, which will house the Cleveland Cinematheque. The new theater will have a substantially smaller seat count than its predecessor, providing a more intimate atmosphere for viewing independent, alternative films.
CIA's airy, three-story atrium 
On the second level, an airy, three-story atrium connecting the McCullough and Gund building floods light into a spacious common area. On the same level, a new takeaway dining option, Stone Flower Café, will focused on healthy offerings. It is one of the many ways the school is encouraging student convening.

Further intermingling between majors will be encouraged when the innovative “Hive” workstations are installed on the second floor. Developed by Dan Cuffaro, the head of CIA’s Industrial Design department, the Hive setup has used reclaimed materials from abandoned Cuyahoga County homes to create flexible learning spaces that can be configured so that multiple classes can be held simultaneously. While the building will maintain its more traditional classrooms, the Hive will allow for modern, open learning experiences.

“Just by that very physical proximity they will be able to cross-pollinate and collaborate with each other simply because they're working so close together,” explains Nunes.

The McCullough building, a historic 1915 Ford factory, has long offered inspiration to industrial design students. Yet the Gund building offers cutting-edge technology that will complement that history. A second floor computer lab will equip students with Cintiq technology tablets, a pen and touch display that allows designers to sketch digital concepts. The space will be especially useful for lessons from Chrysler, GM, and Ford staff, who regularly visit automotive students.

The third floor of the new CIA complex now includes access to a rooftop overlooking Little Italy, and leaders here say it holds the possibility of one day building up additional levels. Back inside, floor-to-ceiling windows encase the adjoining open workspace that will be the designated learning area for students of biomedical art, photography, and the rapidly growing game design track. 
On the fourth floor, the building’s highest level and one of the few areas already open this spring semester, illustration students have already begun embellishing their plain white cubes with posters, clippings and stickers full of personality. To enforce the message of sustainability, these cubes are constructed with post beams made from recycled aluminum, LED lights provide illumination, and flat file cabinets collected from all over Cleveland provide a place to store work.

When classes are adjourned, student housing is steps away. This year, additional suites in an apartment building at Euclid Ave. and Ford Dr. became living spaces for freshmen. The property only adds to the reasons the Uptown area was recently nominated for the esteemed Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.
These days, thanks to the inspiration of the Uptown District, the inevitable late night jaunt to the studio when inspiration hits isn’t only restrained to campus. Now, the muse can be an opening at MOCA, a live show at the Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern, or a culinary indulgence at Crop Kitchen and Coquette Patisserie.

Photos Bob Perkoski

Read more articles by Nikki Delamotte.

Nikki Delamotte is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Diffuser.FM, The Grammys, Cleveland Magazine, Cleveland Scene and others.
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