#CLEative Groove: Meet Richard Rozewski, Kent State educator and interior designer at Bialosky

Our #CLEative Groove series features Q&A profiles on our city’s creative makers and shakers! Read on for our next installment with Richard Rozewski, Jr., who teaches interior design at Kent State University while practicing as an Interior Designer at Bialosky.  

How long have you lived in Cleveland and where do you currently live? Before moving away, I lived in Cleveland for 22 years. I moved back about a year ago and currently live in the University Heights area.

Rozewski outside the Cleveland Museum of ArtName something local that helped to shape your creativity as a kid: Two things that sparked my creativity growing up in Cleveland were the Cuyahoga County Public Library and the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). Both organizations are free to the public and—through their unique programming and mission—allowed me to dive headfirst into art and design. I remember taking out larger art books and being able to hang out in the library and the art museum as a kid. These organizations inspired me at a young age before I even knew about the full importance of the amazing collections there. (CMA was ranked the second-best museum in the country by Business Insider.)

What do you do for work? I currently work at Bialosky Architects as an Interior Designer. I work on big and small projects ranging from libraries and higher education projects to office spaces and more. Luckily, I’ve been able to see a few projects from start to finish already, as interiors move at a very fast pace.

I previously worked as an Interior Designer with ENV Architects, based out of New York City where I focused on corporate interior spaces. Before moving to Virginia and switching career paths into design, I worked in the nonprofit sector in higher education and arts organizations in New England and Boston.

Rozewski making an inspiration boardShare a bit about some of the projects you are currently working on and how they are coming to life in Cleveland: My team and I just finished May Dugan’s construction documents on a complete renovation and addition to an existing 1950s building. The goal of this project is to work with our client to address and enhance program operations while also giving the space a new and refreshed look. The project was specifically informed by research around trauma-informed design, as most of the users of the space are coming there for therapy and rehabilitation.

I’m also working with the Cleveland Leadership Center (CLC) to plan and design their new offices in the Greater Cleveland Partnership building in Downtown Cleveland. This nonprofit has been in search of a new home during the pandemic, and it’s exciting to be moving forward to the construction document phase of the design process.

Lastly, I recently worked to help complete the food pantry at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) West Campus and just finished the drawings for the next location in Westlake at their Westshore campus.  

What do you see as Cleveland’s best or most striking architecture? Any little-known gems to seek out? I think the contrast of contemporary buildings like moCa Cleveland, the Peter B. Lewis Building at Case Western Reserve University, and the Breuer Building at The 9 create an interesting dialogue between the history of the city and the aspirations that we have as a creative mecca. For me, buildings serve as public monuments and allow us to reflect on the past, present and future of a particular space. When I think of little-known gems, the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse comes to mind, as well as the historic mansions along Euclid Avenue and in Bratenahl (worth a bike ride over there). I feel like I’m always discovering hidden gems in Cleveland—you just have to keep looking.

Peter B. Lewis Building

In your opinion, what are Cleveland’s best-kept cultural and creative secrets?  Cleveland has so many hidden gems and rich cultural assets. In my opinion, we have a variety of amazing concert venues like the Grog Shop, Agora and Beachland Ballroom balanced with spaces like the Maltz Performing Arts Center and the Cleveland Orchestra. I’ve also been able to admire and indulge in programming from grassroots arts organizations like Zygote Press, Waterloo Arts and Pivot Arts Center. Last but not least, Cleveland has great access to nature through the Metroparks, Cleveland Cultural Gardens and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Without these spaces, the city would be a completely different place.

What are some of your other creative passions, and how do you indulge them locally? In my free time, I enjoy sketching, drawing and painting. Before I moved away, I would attend weekly drawing nights in Ohio City. I hope that programming like this starts up as COVID-19 cases decline. When looking for inspiration for my creative outlets, I tend to dive into nature either for a scenic hike or a bike ride on the Towpath.

Any quirky Cleveland stuff people need to check out? Visiting the variety of local bars in Cleveland could be a good way to tour the neighborhoods and experience the changes that I have seen since moving back. Like I said before, every neighborhood feels different and has its own styles and characteristics. My advice would be to start with Prosperity Social Club in Tremont.

Worthington YardsAny favorite local artists/galleries, etc.? SPACES, 78th Street Studios and Worthington Yards are some of my favorite galleries in Cleveland. There are too many local artists to name!

Share a fun fact about you that might surprise other people. When I was a kid, my uncle led a lot of very interesting construction projects around Cleveland. He was a brick layer by trade and later became a foreman and contractor. I was able to tour job sites and buildings under construction, which really shaped my love of architecture. One of the most notable buildings that I toured was the Peter B. Lewis Building on the Case Western Reserve University campus, which was designed by Frank Gehry. I remember him telling me that they used rollercoaster steel to frame some of the complicated curves on the building.

Another fun fact is that I used to spend my summers in Maine as a kid, and it really shaped my experience and helped to spark my love of nature. My family on my mom’s side has a summer camp there, where I would go to reflect and grow with my cousins. We’d have a lot of fun, but it was also very peaceful and calming.

If you were a Cleveland landmark, which one would you be and why? I’d be the Free Stamp, because it’s kind of awkward but it still makes a strong statement.

Favorite Cleveland mural/piece of art? My favorite Cleveland piece of art is Rodin’s “The Thinker” sculpture at CMA. I also enjoy the classical and famous artwork outside of the museum because everyone gets to interact with it and see Cleveland artistic culture.

A typical day in your life might include… running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to balance architectural practice, teaching and responding to emails...but I wouldn’t trade it!

Learn more about Richard and Bialosky here, and stay tuned for more #CLEative Groove profiles! You can also follow @CLEativeGroove on Instagram here, or send suggestions for people to profile here.


Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast. When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes through her small business Creative Groove, as well as Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.