With the State Control Board authorizing 3 more land purchases by Kent State along the proposed path of the University Esplanade extension (from the edge of campus connecting through to downtown Kent), staff at Kent State and the City have the green light to roll up their sleeves and work with a design engineer to come up with the right mix of plantings, arches, stones, materials, features, etc., that will soon become the signature facility of our downtown revitalization effort.
There’s been plenty of talk about re-connecting the campus with the central business district but when it comes to the downtown project, the Esplanade is more than just a way to get from Point A to Point B. The Esplanade, in and of itself, plays a big part in the overall Kent campus and community experience.
The vision of the Esplanade is to be a place that encourages not only walking from one place to another, but is itself a place to hang out; a place to read a book; a place with wireless internet to surf the web; a place that can be considered it’s own destination.
Of course it helps re-connect the campus with the downtown but we could do that with a paved street but obviously that’s not the effect were looking for. The Esplanade gives us a chance to make a definitive statement about Kent, and we plan to make the best of it. The design engineers are looking at ways to carve out little pockets along the Esplanade for local musicians to set out a hat and play. They’re looking for a well planned landscape theme that makes the walk feel more like a stroll through a park. We’re hoping there will be some room for a water feature of some sort and we expect plenty of public art to be part of the Esplanade experience.
Projects like this don’t come around often so everybody is excited about trying to get this right. Soon enough we’ll have to figure out a budget, and that will definitely bring everybody back down to earth, but for now it’s great fun to dream big and put together something special for Kent’s next 50 years.
To help get it started, Kent State is unveiling their public art walk. In time, that public art walk will include the Esplanade. Here’s the notice: