Research & Innovation
Built for the Future
School of the Built Environment moves forward in the newly dedicated Kokosing Hall, bringing together Architecture and Environmental Design and Construction Management under one roof to produce well-rounded professionals for in-demand careers
When Bowling Green State University formally dedicated Kokosing Hall on March 27, it was not just the opening of a physical space, but also the summation of a carefully planned process years in the making.
The new home of the BGSU School of the Built Environment, Kokosing Hall is the location that University leaders have discussed for years: A collaborative space in which the School of the Built Environment’s two areas of expertise — architecture and construction management — work in tandem.
Just as the two professions work together in the field, BGSU saw the same vision for its two programs.
“We interact and engage with each other for everything and anything that is designed and built,” said Dr. Arsenio Rodrigues, the director of the School of the Built Environment. “We want to make sure that our graduates have a well-rounded, holistic understanding of what it takes to design and build.”
The School of the Built Environment, which is housed in the newly reorganized College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering, seeks to create synergy between two in-demand careers while BGSU students are on campus.
"The intent of the School of the Built Environment is to bring architecture and construction management together, and in that sense, we are unique since we are one of the few schools in the nation that envisions synergizing these fields," Rodrigues said. "It takes both architects and construction managers to build anything, so we want to have that crossover early on where students can experience both fields together in their educational career."
Though each program is designed to meet its own set of rigorous accreditation standards, SBE also prepares graduates to see the broader picture: Creating expertise in an individual field but also a wider understanding of how things are built in the real world.
“Kokosing Hall will forever represent the power of collaboration between higher education and industry leaders,” said BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers. “Bowling Green State University is incredibly grateful for Kokosing’s longtime support of our students and alumni, and now, with this transformational gift, we are among the first to bring together under one roof our construction management and architecture programs. This is the direct result of working collaboratively with industry leaders and aligning our academic programs to meet Ohio’s workforce needs.”
Responding to Regional Needs
In 2019, BGSU obtained top accreditation for its Master of Architecture degree program from the National Architectural Accreditation Board, a crucial step for the program that had an immediate impact on the greater northwestern Ohio region.
When the Master of Architecture program obtained NAAB accreditation — becoming one of five schools in Ohio to bear the distinction — it allowed graduates to pursue professional licensure immediately.
In addition to adding convenience for BGSU students who intend to seek licensure, the accreditation helps the University create and retain future architects right in its home area, which has experienced significant demand for more practicing architects.
“The reason why this school at BGSU is so important is that there is a big need for professionals in this region,” Rodrigues said. “This area was experiencing a dearth of professionals, but our accreditation is solving a lot of those issues now: We are providing a much-needed and critical workforce to the region.”
BGSU, which was cited by DesignIntelligence as one of the “Top Ten Architecture Programs Most Hired From” in 2019, before NAAB accreditation, now provides even stronger learning outcomes for its architecture students.
The architecture curriculum — which includes two paid co-op experiences — combines technical, design and management education that allows BGSU graduates to enter the workforce knowing how to turn an architectural vision into a reality.
“Kokosing Hall has enhanced the teaching, learning, research and creative environment, which advances recruitment, retention and the success of our students and faculty,” said Joe B. Whitehead Jr., BGSU provost and senior vice president for Academic and Student Affairs. "This new space elevates our academic programming in these high-demand fields and we are deeply appreciative of our partnership with Kokosing Inc. that not only provides this structure but also real-world career opportunities for BGSU students."
A harmonious pairing
The BGSU Master of Architecture program obtaining NAAB accreditation created a natural pairing with the University’s Bachelor of Construction Management, a long-established leader in the field.
For anything that is built, construction managers and architects work together. Architects first design programming and bring an idea to the level of construction documents, at which point construction management enters the picture and evaluates how to turn documentation into a living, breathing building.
When working with local and regional partners, including Kokosing, professionals already working in the field expressed the desire for graduates who are well-rounded.
"Throughout the process, we met and listened to our industry partners who told us they're looking for graduates who understand the process from design to build,” said CTAAE dean Dr. Jennie Gallimore. “BGSU is now the only university in Ohio where construction management students and architecture and environmental design students are under the same roof, learning with and from each other.
“By sharing the same physical workspace, students receive a more complete understanding of the process and the skills they need to succeed.”
In addition to taking common required courses and electives together, architecture and construction management majors collaborate and engage with faculty from either discipline, which enables a more conducive and collaborative working relationship between architects and construction managers.
Construction management students, for example, can engage architecture students in a design studio setting, or architecture students could complete coursework in construction management courses document reading to allow for a wider understanding of the design-build process.
“Architects and construction managers have to engage, communicate and collaborate with one another, so they have to possess a working understanding of the other field to be able to execute a vision into reality,” Rodrigues said. “You really have to be able to work together and understand the complexities of the design process and the multiple facets of the construction process for a project to achieve successful completion.”
A bright future
The synergy between the two programs is at the heart of SBE, which aims to continue its role as a leader in the region helping to address a workforce need.
“That collaboration is a conscious philosophy of our school, so it is woven into the fabric of our curriculum and the expertise of our faculty,” Rodrigues said. “That collaboration and collegiality is then translated when students graduate and they’re out in the field.”
Rodrigues said that students now can work in labs that are designed the same way as those they will use in the industry after graduation. He said he expects to see great things come out of Kokosing Hall's Materials and Innovation Lab, which will provide both students and faculty with a place to build, create or explore whatever they envision.
Additionally, Rodrigues said that even though the cutting-edge facility is operational, the forward progress will continue.
“There is really no finish line -- we believe in innovating as we move forward," he said. "Progress is continual and never ends. There is always something more to be done and a better way to do it, so we will keep evolving, improving and innovating.”
Updated: 04/20/2023 03:58PM