The Columbus College of Art and Design has been a Downtown institution over over 130 years. Over the next ten to twenty years, the school will work toward further integrating with its Downtown surroundings.
A new planning effort from the college calls for the addition of two new student housing buildings that would mimick the five-story Design Square Apartments added by the school in 2009. Older single-story buildings and existing surface parking lots would make way for these residential buildings, as well as the addition of new academic facilities that would allow for the continued growth of the college.
We spoke recently with CCAD President Denny Griffith to find out more about the new development plan:
Walker Evans: Can you tell us a bit about the formation of the framework plan for CCAD and what the driving force behind this effort is?
Denny Griffith: CCAD’s needs and those of our students continue to evolve. We see ourselves growing over the next few years to about 1,600 students, and we want to be more of a residential campus. At the same time, the technology and materials used in many of our classrooms is changing.
The new framework plan, which establishes guidelines for us to follow over the next decade or two, seeks to address our needs for more campus housing and to be more efficient using our existing classroom and studio space. Years ago, we acquired or leased smaller, older spaces around our campus. It’s time to retire some of those locations. The plan calls for grouping our academic programs by the tools they use – the disciplines that are very technology heavy, such as animation, cinematic arts and graphic design will be clustered in what the plan calls our “digital campus”. Those specialties that require a lot of working space and variety of materials, such as sculpture, painting, glass art and fashion design, are clustered in what the plan calls the “materials campus”.
With the many neighborhood improvements spurred by the Discovery District SID, Neighborhood Launch and the City of Columbus, we believe the time is right to evaluate our next phase of development.
WE: What is the current enrollment at CCAD, how many students live on campus, how many within the surrounding area, and what are the projected numbers that this plan is working to accommodate in the future?
DG: Current enrollment is 1,350. Our students come from 23 countries and 40 states across the country. Approximately 30 percent live on campus and about another 200 live in the immediate neighborhood. Our goal is to build on our campus atmosphere, our creative community, and develop living space for about 50 percent, or 800 students, to live right here.
WE: What sort of transformation will take place on Gay Street through the middle of campus?
DG: The city has plans in place to extend the streetscape renovation completed west of campus to a more pedestrian friendly Gay Street east of Cleveland Avenue, including a return to brick streets.
WE: How does the plan correspond to the “Creative Campus” plan outlined in the 2010 Downtown Strategic Plan?
DG: Our plan and the Creative Campus plan, by design, are fully-integrated. Our planning process was led by a team composed of Keith Myers and the staff of MKKS and Mitch Acock from Acock, Associates. And Keith’s team was responsible for the development of the Creative Campus plan on behalf of the Mayor and the City. So our efforts dovetail in every way.
WE: How does the framework plan at CCAD compliment the future plans of neighbors such as State Auto, The Columbus Museum of arts, Columbus State Community College or others?
DG: The great thing is all these organizations, and Motorist Insurance as well, were part of our discussion groups in building the plan – and not just ours, but the Creative Campus plan as well. In fact, several of the professional firms involved in the Museum’s planning are working with CCAD, too.
We are committed to providing the “cool factor” for the neighborhood. The most important part is that we all see this as a neighborhood. We see staff from the Museum grabbing a soda and a sandwich in our P.O.D. convenience store. And all of us are very excited to have Hills Market and the new Grass Skirt Tiki Bar open. In fact, we’re already referring to the Grass Skirt as the faculty club.
WE: What sort of timeline is there for implementing the framework plan, and which portions of the plan would come first?
DG: This is a very long-term proposition. CCAD’s board will now begin the process of analyzing each element of the plan, setting priorities and looking at the most efficient way to begin implementation. This is a very comprehensive view of where we are going as a college with major curriculum changes and our efforts to boost enrollment – we would expect the full scope to play out over about 25 years.
WE: What sort of impact does the growth of CCAD have on the future of Downtown Columbus as well as non-students near to the campus?
DG: Overall, we believe bringing more students to live on our campus is good for the whole community as it is likely to spur additional retail development in the area. Our continued evolution creates additional cultural options as we bring in a broad range of visiting artists and scholars.
In addition to our free public gallery spaces, we will launch the CCAD MindShop in September at the corner of Broad and Cleveland. The arts business incubator, the Design Lab and the Thought Lab will bring a diverse array of businesses, organizations and thought leaders to campus for ongoing explorations of the many ways CCAD students and faculty contribute to the creative economy.
WE: Anything else we should know about the new plan?
DG: It is gratifying to be doing this kind of planning at time when there is so much collateral development in our neighborhood. From the powerful impact of Jeff Edwards’ Neighborhood Launch, and the art museum’s planned expansion, to David Harrison’s refreshing and visionary leadership of Columbus State (which is also engaged in a master planning effort right now) this is a splendid time to be working in concert with our neighbors. I truly think the Creative Campus will be as hot as the Arena District in the foreseeable future.
More information about CCAD can be found online at www.ccad.edu.