by Tyler Patrick and Bryan Irwin
Like many American cities, the economic and environmental landscape of Dayton, Ohio, has changed dramatically since the 1950s. Embedded within the city, Sinclair Community College has consistently responded to these shifts. In its early days, when the college occupied part of the city's YMCA, Sinclair supported existing industries, meeting demand for an educated workforce. Today, the forward-thinking institution is leading the charge in attracting new business to Dayton. It all goes back to Sinclair's credo, "Find the need and endeavor to meet it."
In 2012, Sinclair hired us to create the plan that would guide the institution's future growth. We quickly realized they were an organized and enthusiastic client. Rooted in practicality and cutting-edge pedagogy, Sinclair's academic programs are thriving and the college finds itself in the unique position to make a positive impact on the region's development and economic recovery.
Their existing campus, however, offers opportunities to better convey this message. Sinclair impeccably preserved its historic core: a collection of Edward Durrell Stone buildings that form "a quiet oasis." In the 1970s, the oasis was a stimulating academic environment that provided students and faculty a quiet intellectual respite from the bustling urban context. But in today's reality, Sinclair's built environment hides activity from Dayton instead of sharing it. To best serve Sinclair and 21st century Dayton, the campus must exhibit vitality, transparency, and accessibility.
Gateway between the campus and the city
The potential town-gown synergy of urban institutions and their host cities is great. To maximize this opportunity, the energy of academic programs should infuse the surrounding urban environment, and vice versa.
Advocating for more transparency, we first reviewed Sinclair's current academic programs and their physical locations on campus. We helped Sinclair understand the relationships between academic programs and building uses. Visualizing the way a campus currently functions facilitates efficient organization and better integration.
We then reviewed and tested potential project scenarios, providing the college with valuable data regarding the financial and phasing implications of future development. Understanding what happens on-campus was the first step in improving Sinclair's connections off-campus.
We examined design interventions that would turn the Sinclair campus inside-out, creating a plan that reimagines existing resources in support of ongoing revitalization efforts in Dayton. One campus border, the 4th Street Gateway, will become a prominent and inviting pedestrian-friendly corridor that serves as the campus's front door to the community and showcases facilities, such as the campus bookstore and art gallery, that serve both campus and community interests.
Deriving inspiration from the college credo, our recommendations find solutions for town-gown connectivity and endeavor to make them achievable.