University of Akron
polsky building

$20 million donation will help University of Akron create downtown arts facility

Sept. 20, 2022
The university plans to transform former department store building into an arts center.

A $20 million donation will help the University of Akron transform a former department store building in downtown Akron, Ohio, into an arts facility.

The university says the Knight Foundation’s financial contribution will go toward a renovation of the Polsky Building.

Plans call for the university to open the interior of the building and create space for entrepreneurship, community collaboration, artistic performances and learning.

“The redesigned building will align directly with our strategy to reorient campus toward downtown,” says university president Gary Miller.

The Knight donation will enable the university to carry out a more substantial renovation of the 400,000-square-foot building, The Akron Beacon Journal reports.

There is no firm timeline for construction. The building now houses the Akron school district’s Early College High School, a partnership with the university. That school will likely have to relocate, at least to a different part of the building, during the renovation, Miller says, but the long-term plan is to keep the students in the building.

Other programming in the building includes academic space, offices and lab space, including an audiology lab open to the public that once a week offers hearing tests for puppies.

Polsky's department store closed in the late 1970s. The building sat vacant for nine years until 1987, when The Prudential Insurance Co. donated the art deco-style building to the University of Akron.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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