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Envisioning a Community Gathering Space in the University Circle Visitor Center

Posted May 29, 2020 in Press Releases

University Circle Inc. (UCI) and local artist and community architect, Malaz Elgemiabby, will soon begin a months-long project to gather resident input and create a plan for the potential future of the University Circle Visitor and Circle Living Center on Euclid Ave. This partnership came about through a program called Learning Lab, which was developed by the Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP) and is supported by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC).

Learning Lab is a professional development program for artists and community organizations to cultivate partnerships for co-designed, arts-based projects. Twelve artists and twelve nonprofits from Cuyahoga County first participated in three training sessions hosted by CPCP. UCI was represented by its Planning + Design Manager, Matt Provolt. Following the training sessions, UCI was paired with artist and community architect, Malaz Elgemiabby, to begin conceptualizing what an arts-based project could be in University Circle. Ultimately, they decided to take an existing space, the University Circle Visitor and Circle Living Center, and explore what other functions the space could serve.

“I am personally very excited to be a participant in the Learning Lab program on behalf of UCI, and to work with Malaz Elgemiabby as we endeavor to create a common space for our community,” said Provolt. “Malaz’s unique perspective on community engagement gives us an amazing platform from which our residents can discuss their experiences and share their vision for the future of University Circle!”

Malaz Elgemiabby is the Founding Principal of ELMALAZ, an architecture and design studio in Cleveland. As an award-winning designer, photographer, and teacher her work creatively investigates community needs to ensure the delivery of the right programmatic and architectural solutions. A prime example of her work is the recently completed Riverview Welcome Center in Ohio City. Malaz was recently selected as one of Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People for 2020.

During the summer of 2020, Elgemiabby and Provolt will host community listening sessions throughout University Circle to gather information about the needs of the neighborhood. Social distancing will be observed throughout the listening sessions. The information and suggestions will then be evaluated and ultimately used to propose architectural changes that address the community’s needs at the University Circle Visitor and Circle Living Center.

“My mission is to align design with community needs,” said Elgemiabby. “It is more important now than ever to make sure that the community voice is heard, and to find creative ways to remain connected even when we are physically distant. By reaching people where they are, and listening genuinely to their, needs, wants and aspirations, we can truly achieve a design that is transformative to the community. Our team will be using a mobile story telling studio (@habbobavan) to engage with the community in meaningful conversation about their vision for the University Circle Visitor Center, those conversation will then be the pillar to our conceptual design which will be presented for the community for their feedback.”

“UCI is thrilled to participate in Learning Lab,” adds Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle Inc. “We look forward to working with Malaz and creating a robust dialogue with our neighbors about what they see as the future of the University Circle Visitor Center.”

Additional information about the community listening sessions, including dates and locations, will be released in the coming weeks on UCI’s website and through its social media channels.

For more information about University Circle Inc. visit www.universitycircle.org. For more information about Learning Lab, visit www.cacgrants.org/learninglab. For more information about Malaz Elgemiabby, visit www.elmalaz.com or follow her on Instagram @el_malaz.


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