Steven Litt Scoops the big story - Kent Grad School of Architecture to move to Cleveland

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 03/22/2006 - 11:51.

I'm pleased to say the 03.21.2006 Excellence Roundtable featuring Steven Fong gave PD Architecture Critic Steven Litt a chance to catch up with Dean Fong, and be the first to learn huge news for this region... See

KSU dean wants architecture grad program moved to Cleveland
Kent State University will move its entire graduate program in architecture to Cleveland "as soon as possible."

So says Steven Fong, the new dean of KSU's College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

Fong, who assumed the post at KSU in December, described his plans publicly for the first time Tuesday in an interview following a public forum at the university's Urban Design Collaborative in Cleveland.  ... See

History of Architects in Cleveland

Nearly 10 years ago the Cleveland-raised, world-renowned, now deceased architect Phillip Johnson proposed a new architecture school for Cleveland and it dawned on me how important that would be to the future of the region - we haven't had a school or department of architecture here since 1972. So I am thrilled by the news that Kent's new Dean of Architecture and Environmental Design, Steven Fong, intends to move the KSU Graduate school of architecture from Kent to Cleveland, as reported today by Steven Litt.

Out of curiosity about the history of architects and education in NEO, I googled Cleveland School of Architecture and I came across some very interesting historical documents about Cleveland Architects and Architecture, and perspectives on KSU's school of architecture.

I came across a fascinating personal account of the history of our architecture industry, as recorded in 1993 in an on-line journal by architect Joseph Ceruti
which is so insightful I recommend anyone into planning take a read - here is an overview from that journal on architecture education and talent development throughout our brief history...

(10) Before World War II, architecture was primarily an elitist profession dominated by a small number of large firms who hired most of the graduates from the architecture schools. By 1890, thirty-six architects were listed in Cleveland's city directory and in the same year the Cleveland chapter of A.I.A. was founded. In the 1890s many clients sought architects of national reputation to design important buildings. Among the major architects represented were Burnham and Root of Chicago, Richard M. Hunt, Henry Ives Cobb, Shepley Rutan and Coolidge, George B. Post, Peabody & Stearns, and George W. Keller. After the turn of the century, these included Stanford White and Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson. Architects from Cleveland started coming along. Lehman & Schmitt, George F. Hammond, and Knox & Elliot began careers in Richardsonian Romanesque. Schweinfurth (1856-1919) was the first Cleveland architect to rank with those of national stature.

(11) Trained in New York, Schweinfurth came to design mansions and churches for the wealthy. His masterpiece was Trinity Cathedral.

(12) The group plan of 1905, which gained national recognition for the concept, was developed by Daniel Burnham, John M. Carrere, and Arnold W. Brunner. The mall was completed in 1936.

(13) A few Cleveland architects studied at the Ecole des Beaux- Arts in Paris and brought its teachings with them. In 1921 a group of architects established the Cleveland School of architecture with Abram Garfield as the first president. The school was affiliated with Western Reserve University in 1929. It became a department in 1952 and continued until it was phased out in 1972. Even during the Depression, we had several institutions offering architectural training: full-time at Western Reserve University; part-time at John Huntington Polytechnic Institute and Cleveland College.

(14) John Huntington offered a variety of courses -- art, architecture, engineering -- with top-notch faculty from Western Reserve University, Case, and the Cleveland School of Art. John Huntington provided an excellent opportunity for those who could not afford to go to college full-time. The charge for those who could not afford to go full-time was $5.00 for each semester and if you attended 80% of the classes the $5.00 was returned. The full-time custodian with whom I became friendly told me about an amusing incident that occurred one evening. A man came to pick up his girlfriend after class and stopped at the entrance. The custodian told him to move on because he was blocking traffic. The man became annoyed and said he should have some privileges for all the money he was paying for the tuition....

(15) Since 1972 we have had no institutions in Cleveland that offer full- or part-time courses in architecture. What a tragedy not to have a facility in the most populated portion of the state! The closest facility is at Kent State University.

Thank you KSU and Steven Fong for starting a new chapter for the school and the region! As we now move forward planning our future, let's do so based on a solid appreciation of our failures and successes of the past. .... read an on-line journal by architect Joseph Ceruti...

Old news

  But it begs the question, why can't we keep innovative minds in Northeast Ohio?

Architecture dean leaving Kent State

Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) - November 3, 2007
Author: Steven Litt, Plain Dealer Architecture Critic

ARTS EDUCATION After a year of unexpected opportunities as an architect, Steven Fong has decided to step down as dean of Kent State University's College of Architecture and Environmental Design to pursue design full time.

Fong, who was appointed dean two years ago, will leave KSU at the end of December to focus on a firm he formed with partners Rodolphe el-Khoury and Robert Levit in Toronto.

The firm, Khoury Levit Fong, was runner-up this year behind Coop Himmelb(l)au of Vienna, Austria, in a global competition to design an art museum in Shenzhen, China.

Fong expects commissions to flow in from China given the strong finish in the contest. He's already worked on large-scale urban plans in Shanghai and Chengdu.