Construction continues on Nord Family Greenway


Henry Bendon

The Nord Greenway project is beginning to look a bit more green with the installation of sod on Frieberger Field. The project is expected to be completed in 2019.

When students came back to Case Western Reserve University this year, they were greeted with a construction site outside of the Tinkham Veale University Center (TVUC), in the place of the old Freiberger Field. This Wednesday, Sept. 27, things began to look a little better. The field, which is closed for construction as part of the university’s plan to build a greenway connecting TVUC to the Maltz Performing Arts Center, got some green.

The crew of workers that had, up to this point, primarily been putting in new walkways and driving bulldozers to flatten down the dirt, instead spent the day laying down sod, bringing a touch of colorand a sign of progressto a project that will take the better part of the year to finish.

Ben Chapman, a third-year student at CWRU, was excited to see grass on the field.

“I’ve been waiting to see what this was gonna turn into,” he said from a spot in TVUC looking out at the construction on Wednesday. “I’m really excited to hang out there.”

The Nord Family Greenway project as a whole is a public-private partnership between CWRU and the City of Cleveland, who together will create a 300 foot-wide lawn, dotted with trees, that will ideally connect TVUC to CWRU’s emerging west campus.

Earlier this year, reported that the project will involve installing three pedestrian stop lights on East Boulevard, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and East 105th Street, as well as including a 2.3 million dollar diversion of the Doan Brook paid for by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

The rest of the 15 million dollar project has been raised privately through the university. reports that the second largest donor for the project is an unnamed university trustee, who gave $3 million. The finished project will be named after its biggest donor, the Nord Family, and the project is also receiving partial funding of around $1 million from the Cleveland Foundation.

Background for construction on the Nord Family Greenway came in 2010, when CWRU bought the Maltz Center and began thinking about how to connect it to the rest of campus. The university originally contracted with the Boston architect Miguel Rosales, whose 2011 proposal involved building a large S-shaped bridge across Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Not entirely sold on the bridge plan, the university opened the project up to three other private firms, including Sasaki Associates. The Watertown, Massachusetts-based design firm won the contract with a plan for a large natural pathway and big stairway section to go up and down the area west of the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) that dips down to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and the accompanying cultural gardens.

CWRU received approval from the city to begin construction in late 2016, and fences went up around the construction areas of CMA midway through last semester. Construction began on Freiberger Field section after the commencement ceremonies concluded last year.

The Nord Family Greenway project is part of a larger effort to connect CWRU to surrounding neighborhoods and to the currently under construction Cleveland Clinic Health Sciences Campus, as reported in an article previously published by The Observer.

Stephen Campbell, CWRU Vice President for Campus Planning, told last year that the project was part of CWRU’s commitment to the area.

“We’re trying to promote healthy communities,” Campbell said, referring to the fact that the new greenway will create a direct line from University Circle to the largely poor Hough neighborhood. “The university isn’t going anywhere; we’re here for the long term.”

First-year student Max Burke, despite having only attended CWRU while construction on Freiberger Field limited available open space, is excited about the project.

“I feel like this will really liven up the area,” he said, looking on at workers laying down another row of grass. “It’ll make a place for social connections to thrive.”