Meet Richard Rozewski, Kent State Educator and Interior Designer at Bialosky

Our #CLEative Groove series features Q&A profiles on our city’s creators and creative agitators! Read on for our next episode with Richard Rozewski, Jr., who teaches interior design at Kent State University while working as an interior designer at Bialosky.

How long have you lived in Cleveland and where do you currently live? Before moving, I lived in Cleveland for 22 years. I moved about a year ago and currently live in the University Heights area.

Rozewski in front of the Cleveland Museum of ArtName something local that helped shape your creativity as a child: Two things that spurred my creativity growing up in Cleveland were the Cuyahoga County Public Library and the Cleveland Museum of Art (AMC). Both organizations are free to the public, and with their unique programming and mission allowed me to dive headfirst into art and design. I remember pulling out larger art books and being able to hang around the library and art museum when I was a kid. These organizations inspired me at a young age before I even knew the significance of the incredible collections there. (CMA was rated the second best museum in the country by Business Insider.)

What is your job ? I am currently working at Bialosky Architects as an interior designer. I work on small and large projects ranging from libraries and higher education projects to office spaces and more. Fortunately, I have already been able to see a few projects from start to finish, because the interiors are changing at a very fast pace.

Previously, I worked as an interior designer at ENV Architects, based in New York, where I focused on corporate interior spaces. Before moving to Virginia and changing careers to design, I worked in the nonprofit sector at higher education and arts organizations in New England and Boston.

Rozewski doing an inspiration boardShare some of the projects you’re currently working on and how they’re coming to life in Cleveland: My team and I just finished Mai DuganConstruction documents for a complete renovation and addition to an existing 1950s building. The objective of this project is to work with our client to address and improve program operations while giving the space a new and refreshed appearance. The project was specifically informed by research around trauma-informed design, as most space users come here for therapy and rehabilitation.

I also work with the Cleveland Leadership Center (CLC) to plan and design their new offices in the Greater Cleveland Partnership building in downtown Cleveland. This nonprofit was looking for a new home during the pandemic, and it’s exciting to move forward into the construction documents phase of the design process.

Finally, I recently worked to help complete the pantry at Cuyahoga Community College West Campus (Tri-C) and just completed designs for the next location in Westlake on their Westshore campus.

What do you think is the best or most striking architecture in Cleveland? Little-known nuggets to discover? I think the contrast of contemporary buildings like MoCa Clevelandthe Peter B. Lewis Building at Case Western Reserve Universityand the Breuer building in 9 create an interesting dialogue between the history of the city and the aspirations we have as a center of creation. For me, buildings serve as public monuments and allow us to reflect on the past, present and future of a particular space. When I think of unknown nuggets, the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse comes to mind, as well as the historic mansions along Euclid Avenue and in Bratenahl (which are worth a bike ride there). I feel like I always find hidden gems in Cleveland – just keep looking.

Peter B. Lewis Building

What do you think are Cleveland’s best-kept cultural and creative secrets? Cleveland has so many hidden gems and rich cultural assets. In my opinion, we have a variety of amazing concert halls like the Toddy Shop, Agora and Beachland Ballroom balanced with spaces like the Maltz Performing Arts Center and the Cleveland Orchestra. I was also able to admire the programming of local arts organizations such as zygote press, Waterloo Arts and Pivot Arts Center. Finally, Cleveland has great access to nature through Metroparks, Cleveland Cultural Gardens, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Without these spaces, the city would be a completely different place.

What are some of your other creative passions, and how do you practice them locally? In my spare time, I like to draw, sketch and paint. Before I moved, I attended weekly drawing nights in Ohio City. I hope programs like this get started as COVID-19 cases go down. When looking for inspiration for my creative outlets, I tend to immerse myself in nature either for a scenic hike or a bike ride on the towpath.

Are there any quirky things in Cleveland people need to check out? Visiting the variety of local bars in Cleveland could be a great way to tour the neighborhoods and experience the changes I’ve seen since returning. Like I said before, each neighborhood feels different and has its own unique styles and characteristics. My advice would be to start with Prosperity Social Club in Tremont.

Worthington shipyardsFavorite local artists/galleries, etc. ? THE SPACES, 78and street studios and Worthington shipyards are some of my favorite galleries in Cleveland. There are too many local artists to name!

Share a fun fact about yourself that might surprise other people. When I was a kid, my uncle ran a lot of great building projects around Cleveland. He was a mason by trade and later became a foreman and contractor. I was able to visit construction sites and buildings under construction, which really shaped my love of architecture. One of the most notable buildings I visited was the Peter B. Lewis Building on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, designed by Frank Gehry. I remember him telling me that they used roller coaster steel to frame some of the complicated curves of the building.

Another fun fact is that I used to spend my summers in Maine as a kid, and it really shaped my experience and helped spark my love of nature. My family on my mother’s side has a summer camp there, where I would go to reflect and grow with my cousins. We had a lot of fun, but it was also very peaceful and calming.

If you were a Cleveland landmark, which one would you be and why? I’d be the Free Stamp, because it’s a little awkward but still makes a strong statement.

Your favorite Cleveland mural/artwork? My favorite Cleveland artwork is Rodin’s “The Thinker” sculpture at the CMA. I also enjoy the classic and famous artwork outside of the museum because anyone can interact with and see Cleveland’s art culture.

A typical day in your life might include… running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to balance architectural practice, teaching and answering emails…but I wouldn’t trade it!

Learn more about Richard and Bialosky here, and stay tuned for more #CLEative Groove profiles! You can also follow @CLEativeGroove on Instagram hereor submit suggestions for people to profile here.

Betty K. Park