Cleveland, Ohio (2002)

Client: Case Western Reserve University


Case Western Reserve University is trying to create a welcoming, safe and interesting environment on its campus where students not only learn, but also participate in the greater University Circle community. As part of this process, Project for Public Spaces, Inc., held a Placemaking workshop in the Spring of 2002 to develop ideas and a vision for improving the primary pedestrian route from the student residences across campus to the the library and the student union, the area known as the “heart of campus.” In the workshop, students, professors and University staff together identified a series of short term, small-scale improvements to specific spaces along this route, as well as long term recommendations. A primary objective of the workshop was also to develop a process that would continue on afterward as the ideas are implemented and the student housing project moves toward completion.

The focus of the workshop was on two primary paths that lead from the residential village to the “heart of the campus.” Some of the questions that were considered include:

  • How to create a strong “sense of place” within the Case Western Reserve Campus, particularly along the routes identified above;
  • How to increase both the perception and real security throughout the area;
  • How to enhance people’s experience using the paths between and public spaces around student destinations (e.g. the student union) so that they become well used and centers of university activity; and
  • How to encourage students to use and become active participants in the surrounding community.

Major Issues and Opportunities

In the past, one of the criticisms from students deciding whether or not to attend Case Western University was that when they visited the campus, they did not see students actively engaged in activities or having fun, particularly in the public spaces. The Placemaking workshop and evaluation of many of these spaces yielded a similar result along with some very good and creative ideas for changes that could be made relatively easily and inexpensively. Two of the major issues that were identified in the workshop were, first, the need for better gathering places of all different kinds throughout the campus and, second, for priority to be given to improving the pedestrian environment in a variety of ways.

Opportunities that were identified during the workshop included creating places for outdoor eating, retail activities in strategically placed kiosks, better information and signage in key locations, improvements to transit, better use of landscaping, and traffic calming to make the campus a more pedestrian friendly place, including Euclid Avenue.