Polsky Building — Bringing Backpacks to Main Street

Akron, OH
Concept Design, 2022

Type: Academic / Arts / Adaptive Reuse
Theme: Transforming Old Buildings

Our concept design for the Polsky Building, a 1930 Art Deco Department Store originally designed by the architects of Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, has allowed the University of Akron to secure funding for a first phase of construction. Famous for elaborate holiday displays and sparking life in downtown Akron, its closing in 1978 led to its acquisition by the University and to today’s plans to reinvigorate activity on Akron’s streets.

The concept connects High Street to Main Street with a vibrant cascading path that links public destinations, campus program spaces, and common spaces to combine the two, and gives all of these “front doors and porches” on this interior way. This is not to deny the adjacent University Avenue, which also connects High to Main, but instead to reinforce the avenue as the University’s main town thoroughfare by means of several points of contact between inside and out. The goal is to have “Backpacks on Main Street”.

Inside are spaces to support 600 faculty and 2,000 students with technology, arts and performance spaces, collaborative spaces, and spaces for student-led innovation and entrepreneurship. This first phase of work anticipates the eventual renovation of the whole, to link more interior spaces, an internal atrium, and the roof.

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Collaborators

Deborah Berke Partners
Architecture and Interior Design

Olin
Landscape Architect

HR&A Advisors
Advisors