Who We Are

The Department of Planning, Design and Construction serves as the steward to plan and develop high quality, cost effective, long term and sustainable facilities and landscapes that embrace the vision and core values of the University. 


Implementation of the Case Western Reserve University Master Plan continues to enhance our academic mission as well as our partnerships with neighboring institutions and the surrounding community. 


The Planning, Design and Construction staff works with architects, engineers, contractors, University departments, and individual faculty and staff while managing the development and execution of new construction projects and renovations of existing space on campus. 


Chris Panichi
Christopher Panichi, AIA
University Architect and Director of Planning & Design

Chris is a licensed architect and currently serves as the Director of Planning, Design, and Construction for Case Western Reserve University. He has over 27 years of experience working in the architecture and construction industry. Prior to joining CWRU, he was in practice as Stantec (formerly Burt Hill), a global A/E firm. As a Senior Associate and Director, Chris lead project teams within both the Higher Education and K-12 market sectors. At CWRU, Chris enjoys working closely with internal university stakeholders to solve problems, ensuring that each project meets their needs. However, the best part of his job is seeing how quality architecture and design can improve the student experience and enhance the beauty of the University environment. Chris has an MBA from Case Western Reserve University, and earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree at The Kent State School of Architecture and Environmental Design, as well as a Bachelor of Public Administration and Minor in Art History from John Carroll University. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and sits on the Mayfield Heights Architectural Review Board. For fun, he loves to cook and when not busy working on house projects he will escape to his woodworking shop. Contact Chris.

Joanne Brown


Joanne Brown, AIA, NCIDQ, ASID
Assistant Director

Joanne is a licensed architect and certified interior designer with over 30 years of experience in project leadership with a strong background in architecture, interior design, space programming, and construction management. Previous experience includes having been a partner within a mid-size architectural firm, vice president of a construction company, and a facility planning director. Having worked in a variety of fields, with various degrees of resources and capital allocation, Joanne offers diverse knowledge and expertise in successfully managing areas of design, planning, and project oversight. She is a member of the City of Cleveland, the Euclid Corridor Design Review Board, and the Liverpool Township Zoning Commission. Joanne has an MS in Positive Organization Development & Change (MPOD) from Case Western Reserve University, and a BS in Architectural & Environmental Design Technology from Bowling Green State University. Joanne loves to travel and experience new places and can often be found boating the Great Lakes with family and friends. Contact Joanne.

Rick Pruden


Rick Pruden
Project Manager

Rick Pruden has been serving Case Western Reserve University as a Project Manager since 2002. In all his years with CWRU he has worked on many sizeable projects, with the Fribley Commons Renovation being one of the most recent. Prior to joining the Planning, Design, and Construction team at CWRU, Rick received his Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Engineering. He then ventured into the automotive and lithium battery industries, using his talents as an Electrical Engineer and Plant Engineer. Rick's work here at Case, however, always keeps him engaged and interested. The diversity of projects is the most exciting part of his project management position including the Nord Family Greenway, new buildings like the Wyant Athletic and Wellness Center, and even elevator modernizations. In his personal life, Rick has been married to his wife for over 30 years and they have two children together. He is also a Poultry Advisor for his local 4-H club and he enjoys making homemade pizzas as a hobby. Contact Rick.


Rebecca Lowry Headshot
Rebecca Lowry, NCIDQ, IIDA
Senior Interior Designer

Rebecca is an experienced licensed interior design leader, focused on creating interiors that enhance spatial experience through thoughtful, functional, and inclusive design as well as cultivating sensitive and engaging solutions to design problems.  A native Clevelander, Rebecca joined CWRU in 2016 after working in New York City, Connecticut, and Chicago.  Job highlights include production design at Saturday Night Live for NBC Studios; high end residential design in NYC, and Pelli Clarke Pelli Architect's office in New Haven, CT.   Her career has also been filled with various interior projects including hospitality, corporate, educational and residential Interior design with a focus on space planning, construction document completion, finish and furniture specification, construction administration and on-site coordination.   Rebecca received her BFA in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design. In her spare time, she enjoys frequenting estate sales.  One of her favorite buildings is the Beinecke Rare book library at Yale University.  Contact Rebecca.


Nick Christie Headshot
Nicholas Christie
Director of Construction

Nicholas (Nick) Christie joined the Case Western Reserve University team in 2009 with a decade of professional experience in the commercial construction industry and a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management from Bowling Green State University.  He has managed and been a team member on many major capital projects on our campus, including Leutner Commons, the Tink, Stephanie Tubbs Jones Residence Hall, the Linsalata Alumni Center, the Health Education Campus, Strosacker Auditorium, and most recently the Maltz Performing Arts Center. In addition, he has managed CWRU's three wind turbines, the Sunfarm, and several LEED Gold certified projects. He enjoys working with many different colleges, schools, and departments across the CWRU campus and the variety of projects they have to offer. He is a firm believer in continuous improvement and appreciates a challenge. Contact Nick.


Jim Schmidt
James Schmidt
University Space Management Coordinator

Jim was recruited to join Case Western Reserve University in 2018 as a Space Management Coordinator. In this position, Jim is involved with the development and implementation of CAD Standards and the documentation of all campus buildings. He also manages the maintenance of the Planning, Design, and Construction Database, as well as the distribution of drawings to internal and external clients. Prior to joining the PDC team at CWRU, Jim received an Associates degree in CAD/Design as well as obtaining 33 years of experience in Residential Design and Construction. His experience also includes Facilities Space Planning and Design, in addition to Project Design and Management. In his spare time, Jim enjoys woodworking projects, home renovation and remodeling, gardening, and cooking. Contact Jim.