Cleveland State University


Cleveland State Campus Master Plan

Cleveland, Ohio

85 acres/34 hectares

Campus Planning, Landscape Architecture, Master Planning, Urban Planning and Design


As it approached its 50th anniversary in 2014, Cleveland State University (CSU) sought to strengthen its connections with a re-emerging and dynamic downtown environment, identify ways to differentiate the university, and continue to attract and serve its current and future students.  Declining regional demographics, cuts in state funding, and a changing focus on student success and completion required the university to make wise use of resources and partnerships, and re-evaluate its focus and growth. SmithGroupJJR was engaged to assist CSU in understanding the potential of existing campus assets and their re-use, and to think strategically about the physical settings needed to support the institution’s academic vision and programs.  

The CSU campus represents the largest footprint under single ownership in downtown Cleveland, with 40 buildings on 85 acres. As an urban university, its continued vitality and physical presence has a positive economic benefit on the revitalization and livability of downtown.  In conjunction with CSU students, faculty, deans, the university’s administration, the City of Cleveland and neighborhood planning groups, SmithGroupJJR helped create a master plan that will build a more distinctive destination with outstanding academic programs, a vibrant campus life, and a compelling physical presence.

Using 3D modeling programs and other software tools, the SmithGroupJJR team analyzed more than 3 million square feet of academic space, visually representing a variety of campus scenarios. The master plan emphasizes development of modern learning spaces through strategic demolition, infill and renovation, along with a stronger Engineering and Science precinct and improvements to the adjacent athletic and residential areas. These initiatives will create a more identifiable campus character, improve the vitality of the campus neighborhood, advance CSU’s Engaged Learning philosophy, and foster collaboration that contributes to the economic health and redevelopment of the City of Cleveland.

Related Content

CSU Master Plan
Download and view Cleveland State’s master plan document.

Planning for Urban Universities and Colleges
A design topic and video exploring trends and opportunities for urban institutions.

The Cleveland Memory Project
A brief history of Cleveland State University.