DA Journal 2015 Volume XXV $4.00
Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future. Robert L. Peters ■ It’s really hard to design ... by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know
nold Toynbee ■ In a quality city, a person should be able to live [an] entire life without a car and not feel deprived. Paul Bedre running out of urban places. Andres Duany ■ Only when the design fails does it draw attention to itself; when it succeeds,
sign – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for. Milton Glaser
People seldom improve when they have no other model
ving the lives of others and for leaving your community and the world better than you found it. Marian Wright Edelman
DA Journal 2010 Volume XX $4.00
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DA Makes a Difference: AT
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A C E S
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DesignAlabama Volume XXV
Cover: Covers of all the DA Journal issues from the publication’s begin-
With the printing of our final DesignAlabama Journal, we look back on how impactful this publication has been for more than 25 years and want to recognize two individuals who were at the forefront of that effort. Nancy Hartsfield and Philip Morris were instrumental in creating and molding what DesignAlabama Journal has become from the very first issue, generously donating their time and talent pro bono. In honor of their years of service, dedication and hard work, we are pleased to dedicate this last print issue of the journal to Nancy Hartsfield and Philip Morris with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation.
ning with Volume I, Issue I, in 1988 through Volume XXIV in 2014 are displayed on the front and back covers of this journal and read from left to right over the full two pages. Also included are some of our favorite design quotes that have run on the back cover of the journal through the years. Cover Design by Wei Wang
Board of Directors
Cathy C. Gerachis, Chair Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood Montgomery Nancy Mims Hartsfield, Co-Vice Chair of Publications Auburn University - Retired Montgomery Angela Stiff, Co-Vice Chair of Publications Copperwing Design Montgomery Jeffrey Pruitt, AICP, Vice-Chair of Operations North Alabama Regional Council of Governments Decatur Robin White, Treasurer & Secretary Alabama Power Company Birmingham Jim Byard ADECA Prattville Tammy Cohen Cohen Carnaggio & Reynolds Birmingham David Hill Auburn University/Hillworks Auburn Simon Hurst Sherlock, Smith & Adams Montgomery Clay McInnis Montgomery’s Downtown Business Association Montgomery Darrell Meyer KPS Group - Retired Mountain Brook Debbie Quinn Montrose Sheri Schumacher Auburn University - Retired Auburn Randy Shoults Montgomery Merrill Stewart Stewart Perry Construction Birmingham Ben Wieseman Director of Catalytic Development, REV Birmingham Birmingham
Gina Glaze Clifford, Executive Director Philip A. Morris, Director Emeritus
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This publication is made possible through funding by the following contributors:
DesignAlabama encourages submissions from its readers. Articles about work from all design disciplines are requested, as well as copy related to historic preservation. Please submit copy along with visuals (photos, slides, drawings, etc.) to DesignAlabama Inc., P.O. Box 241263, Montgomery, AL 36124. Items for DA Online should include a paragraph summary detailing the nature of the project, the design firm, principals and associates involved and any other details that may be of interest such as unusual or special design features, completion date, approximate cost, square footage, etc. Also include the name, address and phone and fax number of the client and an individual whom we may contact for further information. Direct inquiries to (334) 549-4672 or mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Past journal issues are available for $6.00 including postage and handling. Contact DesignAlabama at the above numbers for availability information and to order.
A special thanks to Philip Morris for his ongoing assistance and advice with this publication.
Gina Glaze Clifford Tomie Dugas Nancy Hartsfield Wei Wang Bruce Dupree Robert Finkel Samantha Lawrie Courtney Windham Contributing Writers: Alice Bowsher Gina Clifford Cathy Gerachis Al Head Samantha Lawrie Mary Shell Ben Wieseman
Editor: Managing Editor: Art Director: Associate Art Director: Assistant Art Directors:
© 2015 DesignAlabama Inc.
ISSN# 1090-0918 This issue of DesignAlabama was designed and produced on Macintosh Computers utilizing InDesign CS6. Proofs were printed on a HP 4000N and final output on a Compugraphic 9400.
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Making a difference in how we view design through 25 volumes of DA Journal. p.5
Assisting in the creation of master plans for community revitalization. p.18
Leveraging new tools and techniques to push the boundaries of design. p.21
Advocating for design and educating about its importance to Alabamians. p.24
FEATURES DA MAKES A DIFFERENCE A Retrospective Celebrating 25 Volumes of DA Journal
ARTICLES DESIGNALABAMA JOURNAL A Journey from There to Here
WHAT’S NEXT? DesignAlabama is a publication of DesignAlabama Inc. Reader comments and submission of articles and ideas for future issues are encouraged.
Alabama and the Future of Design
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Philip Morris: Champion of Design
Nancy Hartsfield: DesignAlabama’s First Lady
Alabama’s Role in Historic Preservation
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Al Head addresses a group at the Creative Industries Press Conference, December 2013. Alabama’s creative industries impact in the state is $8.7 billion. Photo by Barbara Reed
DesignAlabama holds a board meeting in the Alabama Artists Gallery in the lobby of the Alabama State Council on the Arts offices, circa 1987. Photo courtesy of the Alabama State Council on the Arts
A Journey from There to Here
What could we, the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the design community, do to enhance the understanding of and support for the design arts in the state of Alabama? That was the question being considered by a group of design professionals and advocates of the design arts gathered around a large conference table at the arts council’s office at One Dexter Avenue in 1985. Discussions highlighted the need for a new statewide organization with a mission to promote all of the design fields. In response, DesignAlabama was created as a nonprofit organization and a vehicle for heightening understanding and appreciation for a better quality of life through good design. This forward-thinking group discussed a wide range of issues, potential projects and needed initiatives. An emphasis was placed, not so much on design professionals, but on the general public, community leaders, public officials, educators, developers and administrators who could incorporate and or influence the practice of good design. Initial project ideas were many, but consensus ultimately emerged around the need for a design publication/journal covering all of the design disciplines. It also was agreed that considerable attention should be focused on Alabama’s built environment. The journal concept was viewed as an effective means for educating the public, promoting good design principles, highlighting success stories and providing resource information. In principle, the journal would articulate the mission of DesignAlabama. Strong leadership from Philip Morris, then executive editor for Southern Living magazine, brought focus to the publication’s purpose and content philosophy. Nancy Hartsfield, professor of graphic design at Auburn University, provided the artistic direction that enabled the journal to be a publication of high quality. So DesignAlabama Journal: The Public Forum for Design in Alabama was born and would become “the voice” of both a new organization and an arts discipline that increasingly would have an important positive impact on the quality of life in Alabama.
In Volume III, Issue I, of the journal as part of an update article, I said, “Those of us at the council are excited about the future of the design program and are committed to design maintaining a prominent position within the agency’s priorities for support in the future.” It should be noted that the birth of DesignAlabama and the journal were components of this new, multifaceted design arts program within the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Operating support for DesignAlabama, guidelines for a new design grants program, the creation of a design staff position and the placement of design arts as a priority in the council’s long-range plan document were all established. As a matter of fact, the council’s plan document was called, “A State Blueprint for Supporting the Arts in Alabama.” Designrelated strategies included in the plan were the creation of a cultural facilities grants program providing support for planning, design and construction of arts spaces/places in Alabama. After many years of working to secure new dollars to implement this initiative, the Art and Cultural Facilities program became a reality in 2007. Another strategy in the plan document was the support for and implementation of the Mayors Design Summit coordinated through DesignAlabama. Modeled after the national Mayors Design Summit funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Alabama’s summit, having just completed its 10th anniversary, has been a huge success story. The DA Journal for almost three decades has documented and helped spotlight most of the important stories of success in the design arts in Alabama.
By Al Head
So now 28 years later, DesignAlabama has come to a point where rethinking the Journal’s format is needed to respond to a changing environment. Changes have occurred in how individuals take in and process data, how technology makes the delivery of the message more cost effective and how more sophisticated transfer of digital information has improved communicating to broader audiences. These changes plus smarter uses of time and money have all contributed to the closure of the print version of DesignAlabama Journal. Thus sharing a few thoughts and a bit of history in this last printed journal leaves me with mixed feelings. There is a bit of sadness in losing an old, familiar DA friend, but on the other hand, there is a degree of satisfaction that DesignAlabama and the design arts are keeping pace with creative thinking and innovation certainly consistent with the components of “good design.” Having been executive director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts for 30-plus years now with fond memories of the birth of DesignAlabama and that first DA Journal, not having the handsome, visually stunning, information-packed publication on the coffee table in my office will be missed. But then I’m a bit “old school” when it comes to having, holding and keeping printed material, like newspapers, books and magazines. Many of these publications I keep for a very long while. I still have the first DA Journal in my credenza. So it may come as no surprise, I also listen to a lot of music on vinyl LPs spinning on the ole turn table, drive around on weekends in a 1965 Olds Cutlass convertible and wear shoes that have been in the closet for 30 years. Of course, going online to read the DA newsletter will be hard initially. Thank goodness a bright torch for forward movement is shining, progress is being made and quality of life is being enhanced every day by good design and talented design artists in Alabama. We look forward to staying informed and will just have to make it a point to look in some different places for where the stories are being told. Al Head is executive director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
Thank goodness a bright torch for forward movement is shining, progress is being made and quality of life is being enhanced every day by good design and talented design artists in Alabama. DesignAlabama 4 23 Volume IX, No. 1
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1988198919901991 1993199419951996 1997199819992001 DA Makes a Difference: 2002200320042005 2006200720082009 A RETROSPECTIVE 2010201120 1220132014 by Darrell Meyer, FAICP
HERE we are – issuing the final print edition of the
DesignAlabama Journal. It’s what some might call a “watershed moment” – an occasion, as we hold this last journal in our hands and feel the texture of the paper and place it on the coffee table or in the lobby of the office, to ask: “Have things improved here in Alabama? Have DesignAlabama and its journal helped to make a difference in how we think about and use design?”
Darrell Meyer is a Professor Emeritus, Auburn University, and is retired as director of planning at KPS Group Inc. in Birmingham.
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In response, I gathered up a very thick stack of all the printed journals I could get my hands on – some 39 issues borrowed from Nancy Hartsfield, founding and continuing member of the DA Board of Directors and art director for every issue. Of course, I could have reviewed them online at the Auburn University Digital Library (http://content.lib.auburn.edu/cdm/search/collection/design), but I wanted to capture the feel of the printed medium as I browsed photos and graphics and read articles going all the way back to Volume I, Issue I, in 1988. It’s quite a sweep of design history in Alabama, and it brought back a lot of memories. What did I rediscover? From the first issue I was reminded that the role of the journal is to influence decision makers in the need for and use of designers. And we made it very clear that the method DesignAlabama planned to use in going about this would be to expose the Alabama public at large – the users of all kinds of products of design, from cities to public spaces to clothing and everything in between – to home-grown examples of good design practice.
By doing this – by explaining the process of design and introducing the people of Alabama to local designers and their work – the journal has helped to increase knowledge and raise expectations of design. Our readers have gained a personal connection to the role and place of the designer and the works of design. Some quartercentury since the first issue was distributed, it is clear that this kind of information has led to improvements in the built environment and of its various designed parts at every scale, serving those who live and work in Alabama.
From its beginnings in 1985, DesignAlabama is working to create awareness and appreciation for the design principles that influence our environment. We believe that the quality of life and economic growth of this state can be enhanced through attention to and investment in good design.
DesignAlabama has attempted to influence those who could in turn influence the quality of design – for the better. Opening and enhancing lines of communication among design specialists was taken as one of DesignAlabama’s essential objectives – yet the primary target audience for the journal was and remains the public at large. Our first chairman (and most prolific contributing editor and writer for the journal through the years) Philip Morris noted in the Premiere Issue, “If DesignAlabama does nothing more than get the facts before the public that good design – architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, graphic design, industrial design and the rest – are essential to the quality of life in the state, it will have done some-
We want good design in Alabama to be like breathing, a natural part of living and doing things.
thing very important.” In that first issue we reprinted an article from an Alabama newspaper about the state of architecture and its impact on urban design in that city. In the
— Philip Morris
article a local architect noted, “Poor buildings offend all [of us]. They are visual pollution. You have no choice but to look at them.” His point was clear: Our standards and expectations as clients – developers
A good client is essential for good architecture. — Harvie Jones
and civic leaders and citizens in general – were simply too low. Photo: John O’Hagen
For evidence of a rising tide of good design in Alabama, I needed look no further than the pages of that tall stack of journals on my desk. Early on I found a lot of promotion of the design arts – considerable exhortation to do more and better. There were ideas and advice, images of good environmental
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Photo: John O’Hagen
Graphic: David Webb
As the movement toward more thoughtful, creative environmental design began to catch hold, the journal reported on smart developers – and examples of smart development – in cities and suburbs and small towns across Alabama. The message: Good design is respected – it saves money and pays dividends. Journal writers,
design of objects and introductions to the consider-
photographers and editors continued to find and present increasing numbers of good
able talents of students in the various design programs of Alabama’s universities.
Drawing: Alan Lafron
design, graphic design and corporate identity, the
examples of what has become known as placemaking, through creative mixtures of architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design and public art. Journal readers learned that such examples were well distributed in small towns and large cities
We touted Alabama’s Main Street program, our own Alabama Community Design Program,
across the state. And by the mid-1990s our Alabama Community Design Program
the Your Town Alabama program and Auburn University’s Urban and Rural Studios and its
had sent volunteer design teams to assist Florence, Hartselle, Marion, Winfield,
Small Town Design Institute, demonstrating that successful design is no accident – there is a
Scottsboro, Clanton and Andalusia.
process behind every good example at whatever scale. Examples of good design at all scales were continuing to add up, and the journal The early issues tended to go big in scale, reporting on urban, interstate and highway cor-
reported successes from all corners – and the middle – of the state including
ridor planning and design, great streets and plans for Battleship Alabama Park, while also
Alabama furniture design, collaboration of multiple disciplines to stage productions
directing the reader’s attention to how high quality Alabama apparel design and graphic
at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the opportunities and challenges presented
design are with us just about everywhere and always. We hit both ends of the design spec-
to the architects designing the Mercedes-Benz training and visitor centers at Vance.
trum in our first issue with a feature story on industrial design. The writer used the example of designing for the NASA space
We reminded our readers that design can and should
station and how they had to rethink conventional wisdom, since
serve community purposes. Our issue on Streets for
in space there is no gravity and thus no up or down in the
People provided examples, at many scales, of civic
usual sense. “Whether in outer space or here on earth,” said the
leaders in cities and towns and villages who had never
writer, “the industrial designer’s task is to design products and
let go of the idea that streets should serve the access
environments that function well for the people who use them.”
needs of people – as pedestrians as well as motor-
Clearly the task of the designer at whatever scale.
ists – and who were continually investing in making accessibility interesting and pleasant for their citizens
Photo: John O’Hagen
Photo: Philip Morris
If the object is to be sat upon, held, touched, worn, played with, worked on and just plain looked at and enjoyed, then its design is the task for a designer.
What was it that caused us to declare the pedestrian obsolete? To eliminate ... the customary sidewalks and street trees that were an inherent part of residential neighborhood development? ... What irony. Today, walking is America’s number-one favored recreation. — Philip Morris
— William Bullock
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Photo courtesy of Your Town Alabama
Photo: Lewis Kennedy
teams to help them plan for revitalization of the four historic cotton mill villages that make up their community. Among plans that came from the effort was the railsto-trails project now linking those villages together along the Chattahoochee River. To demonstrate how good design can improve the quality of an urban environment, we were pleased to feature a Community Profile detailing “Huntsville’s Urban Turnaround.” This was part of an issue dedicated to Shaping Public Space, which featured the “New Campus Ellipse” on the Tuscaloosa campus of the University of Alabama created by the new Student Services Building and reworked Ferguson Center; how a well-designed exception to design standards in Birmingham allowed the designers to include a modest urban plaza at the Energen Building; and how an addition to the Frank Johnson Federal Courthouse
During its second decade, the journal reported
in Montgomery (on a very difficult site) was in the process of creating public space nestled within a simplified, curved classical facade.
on a rising tide of more and better design across Alabama – examples of creative and sensitive landscape design, successful public and private reinvestment, smart development and adaptive
Building on context for design in campus, urban and suburban environments is
use, environmental graphic design in wayfinding systems and its role in the revitalization of
key to success. And in Designing the Landscape, the journal featured several
downtowns large and small, commercial and industrial interiors,
major projects: Huntsville’s Big Spring, Birmingham
objects, fashion and public art.
Southern’s campus, suburban residential development in Shelby County and the Mobile waterfront.
In Retail Design and the Community, our reporters con-
Together they demonstrated how sensitive treatment
trasted the experiences of revitalized village centers in Mountain Brook and the “lifestyle center” of The Summit in Birmingham (all of them featuring new public art) with the enclosed regional mega-malls and the ever-present roadside strip shopping centers so prevalent across Alabama. We noted, “Mountain Brook has moved to reinforce and recover village character. Developers also have realized the value of fitting in.” The journal devoted multiple pages to reporting on the inaugural session of Alabama’s Your Town program, in which civic leaders and professionals had engaged in an intense short course on the issues and processes of good decision-making about planning and design in their communities.
Photo: KPS Group
Two issues later in a follow up, the journal reported that several civic leaders from Valley had come out of the Your Town experience ready to apply what they had learned to their city. They
In the face of ... changes, rural communities often struggle to maintain their vitality and even their sense of identity. Frequently, design decisions make the difference in a community between survival and decay, between prosperity and decline.
invited DesignAlabama to send one of its Alabama Community Design Program volunteer
— Your Town Alabama Program Manual
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Map courtesy of Cheryl Morgan
All work in the design arts begins with an idea, a need, a desire, perhaps for an object, a garment, an open space, a place to sit, or to live or work or play, how to get there from here, or perhaps how it might all fit together in space and time. And much of this requires knowledge and skills in more than one or two specialized areas. — Darrell Meyer
Photo: Dennis Keim
Photo: Gabriel Benzur
of outdoor spaces and places, and especially those carefully related to adjacent interior spaces,
And so the themed surveys were followed by presentation of an even dozen
can make the result so much greater than the sum of constituent parts. In the same issue
projects of various sizes from throughout the state under the headline Design
at a much smaller scale, restoration of the historic garden of the Battle-Friedman House in
Makes a Difference. Included were new civic structures, office buildings, pedestri-
Tuscaloosa provided an example of how thoughtful preservation, rehabilitation and reconstruc-
an street enhancements, suburban development plans, wayfinding signage systems,
tion may be used to adapt a historic design to current needs.
a baseball club, parks and nature preserves, schools and the redesign of an aging regional shopping center. And for good measure, wearable design and three
In 2001 the journal, with so many good examples of environmental design being completed
Alabama fashion designers were profiled in the same issue. Response to the theme
every year, began a series of survey issues, the first three dealing with preservation and adap-
was clear: “The design arts are alive and well – and enhancing the quality of our
tive use of older buildings, suburban design and park design. But good design – like skilled
lives across Alabama.”
designers – cannot always be typed. Photo: Phillip Spears
Artful Architecture presented not only a collection of beautiful buildings, but more importantly, demonstrated how an outside critique of a proposed design for a major public building, thoughtfully based on references to context and to planning and design goals set forth in the institution’s overall master plan, can inform and motivate a client to such an extent that the project is sent back for redesign. With the scope of design in Alabama continuing to increase, the journal undertook a survey of Urban Design at several scales, focusing on master plans for
Photo: John O’Hagan
Birmingham’s city center and for Montgomery’s downtown and riverfront, the Ross Bridge planned community
Often, the work of designers is presented as flamboyant and image-driven. Truth is, most ... in the design arts field spend most of their time out of the limelight developing projects to fulfill their clients’ needs and desires. — Philip Morris
As with any satisfying urban setting, the majority of campus buildings should modestly work together, adding up to something greater than the parts. ... Exceptional architectural form should be just that – exceptional. — Philip Morris
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development in Hoover, the square block of Soho Square in Homewood and the plan for Helena. All are large scale in their own contexts. All deal in three dimensions, are concerned with how things look and feel, as well as how they may work together toward economic and community success. Their clients – elected leaders, city staffs, developers, and the public at large – were all partners in the process. As noted in the leader, these presented exciting models for everyone to study. And we may note that a little more than a decade later, all of them have either been built or are at various levels of completion. The jury is in: Urban design in Alabama is real.
To see out the 20th year since our founding, we devoted the Streets and Highways Design issue to the role and place of accessibility in the built environment. The lead paragraph put it plainly: “No aspect of the design arts has greater impact on the lives of Alabama residents and visitors than the streets and highways we use.” Fortunately, we had good examples across Alabama of how access can be purposefully designed to serve the places where we live, work and play. We used them to demonstrate how this had been accomplished through context-sensitive road, street, parkway and highway design. This is in contrast to what so typically happens incrementally over time as a series of narrowly focused, single-purpose responses to growing traffic volumes without adequate thought given to the whole. Our case studies focused on consideration of the overall pattern – through master planning early on – using access management and traffic calming
Plan courtesy of AU Center for Architecture & Urban Studies
techniques so that streets may serve people, regardless of mode of travel.
To kick off the third decade of DesignAlabama, we reported on our leap of faith into direct education of elected officials: our first annual Mayors Design Summit. A team of volunteer design professionals was partnered with five Alabama mayors to work collectively on specific design and planning issues facing their communities. As we reported in the journal, the issues they brought ranged from big-box development to commercial strip pressures to riverfront access. Each
Rendering by Muir Stewart
community was examined in a broad context, always seeking quality design to support quality of life. Each mayor took away a new way to view issues and a resolve to use each as a means to improve the local community. Just over a decade since taking our first look at school design in Alabama, the journal returned to design for education with a survey of five large new high schools serving as Flagships for the Community and a model for others. In each case the designs for these schools respect and reflect the differences among the needs of the communities they
Plan courtesy of KPS Group
serve by: renovating and expanding the existing school in McAdory; consolidating three
For better or worse, daily life is impacted greatly by where we drive or walk, and it takes strong leadership and some fresh thinking, but the way to ‘better’ has never been such a clear choice. — Philip Morris
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New planning in Alabama is just basically different from the old. The best new plans today begin with a vision and ask ‘How do we get there?’.
Graphic: Cheryl Morgan
Photo: Lewis Kennedy
— Darrell Meyer
ence in Ensley; building the first high school ever alongside the upper Cahaba River in rapidly growing Trussville; and providing a ridge-top presence above I-65 in a north Birmingham neighborhood.
Photo courtesy of Dover Kohl & Partners
high schools in Gadsden; providing a strong civic pres-
To emphasize the point that environmental planning and design had changed greatly for the better in the two decades since DesignAlabama had undertaken the role of design educator and promoter, the journal published Planning with Vision. The journal made it clear: “The best planning now gets people thinking about places,” and so the process engages everyone – right from the start. Two major plans were featured: the Downtown Montgomery Plan and the University of Alabama Campus Master Plan. Adoption of both were watershed events – radical and complete departures from previous ‘small plans’ displaying little or no vision — and built creatively upon concepts that emerged logically from the places themselves – the original 19th century plans in
The nice thing about this kind of plan is you can show something that’s easy to follow. It’s very real stuff. And it’s not just for big public projects but for any development, large or small. There’s more flexibility, and that means more value for property.
combination with their own 21st century ideals.
— Ken Groves
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The idea was supported by a survey of six smaller places, each with a bold vision for itself. All of these plans were driven by local people who seized the opportunity to engage in their very open, public planning processes. By doing so they helped each other create their own visions for their own neighborhoods and downtowns – and to build the local political will to implement those plans over the long haul in partner-
Architecture has become more complex, given technology, codes and other demands. At the same time interior design choices in ... products have exploded. — Philip Morris
ship with neighbors, elected officials and developers. The Inside Story profiled “architecturally responsible interior design” in Alabama with a survey of six firms that explored close partnerships between architects and interior designers. The collaboration increasingly has brought these two design professions under the same roof. We focused on increased sensibility to nuances that interior design, with its own education and licensing standards, has brought to design of the spaces people use. In a story covering “Alabama’s Newest Nature Centers,” the journal showed how design connects the natural environment with five built places of discovery, where the practice of green building helps achieve ecological and aesthetic harmony between the building and its surrounding environment. In the same issue we put the spotlight on John Gill, a lighting designer responsible for creatively illuminating Alabama buildings and monuments at night, creating new effects or enhancing the shapes we see by day: Samford Hall at Auburn, Gorgas Library and
Photo: Karim Shamsi-Basha
other iconic buildings around the Quad at Alabama and Vulcan atop Red Mountain.
Photo courtesy of CRS Engineering
To make our vision a reality, we have created a bold new plan that includes the most aggressive goals and ambitious objectives we have ever set forth.
More important than getting visitors through the front door is getting them outdoors. — Jessica Armstrong
— Dr. Robert E. Witt UA President (now Chancellor) Photo: Lewis Kennedy
I feel that we took a landmark and gave it that extra punch to make it stand out. — John Gill
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Photo: Merrill Stewart III
Plan courtesy of Macknally Land Design
process and the LEED Silver finished product of the headquarters of Stewart Perry, commercial contractors and civil management services, located not far from Liberty Park near Birmingham. Development density seems to be among a suburbanite’s greatest fears, and yet welldesigned, more compact development has the potential to provide a greater sense of place and more efficient use of energy and water than development of lesser density. And so, in Density by Design we surveyed four places across Alabama where steps are being taken to permit – and even encourage – compact development. As we reported, combined with mixed uses, good planning and design are keys to success in downtown Homewood, downtown Mobile, Highland Park neighborhood in Birmingham and The Village at Auburn University.
In 2009, with good design front and center in the minds of developers, civic leaders and the community at large, DesignAlabama continued to promote and educate the public about design quality and success across our state. But rising production, printing and mailing costs of the journal
We all make daily choices about how we will or will not be good stewards of our environment …. Our building shows what can be done with a commonsense approach.
became so great that keeping pace with those successes
— Merrill Stewart
led DesignAlabama to launch DA Online, our quarterly online newsletter, to provide our readers with timely short features, project news and information plus online links to more detail. With the advent of DA Online, we also upgraded the journal to focus on more and greater in-depth articles. In the inaugural annual issue, we took a look at the power of the designed landscape at the Colonnade as it has matured, conversion of an old block into Montgomery’s entertainment Alley, explored logos and branding and celebrated the transformation of an environmental sow’s ear into a green silk purse.
In the movement toward being green or sustainable, the benefits of urban location cannot be denied. Manhattan, by far, is the greenest city in the U.S. based on walking, transportation and the inherent densities of dense, common-wall building. To subscribe to DesignAlabama’s digital newsletter, DA Online, please visit the DesignAlabama website at www.designalabama.org and sign up under “Subscribe to Journal.” It’s easy to sign up and it’s free!
One of the most difficult design – and development – DesignAlabama 4
assignments is to convert a brownfield, a site seriously damaged or polluted by a previous noxious use, into a combination indoor/outdoor development that wins plaudits for the buildings, the interiors and the sheer diversity, aesthetic beauty and health of its landscape. Alabama had a large number of such sites but few home-grown success stories. The journal took the challenge and reported on the design
— Philip Morris
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Photo: Lewis Kennedy
Visitors will likely notice [Railroad Park is] nothing like they’ve seen before, even though they may not understand that the design is cutting edge. They only need to feel connected to the place in a new way. — Tom Leader Studio
Photo: Lewis Kennedy
The Design Guidelines ... are based on the principle that the character of the whole, the ensemble, is the primary factor in conveying the quality and attractiveness of a commercial area. — KPS Group, for the City of Mountain Brook
In the same issue we visited the realized, built design of Railroad Park, the idea for which had been on the minds of locals for perhaps two decades. Converting the site, a filled marsh, former location of industry and railroad yards in the very heart of downtown Birmingham for well over a century, into a major urban park is a work of design and of the support of many local people, including committed volunteer planning and design profes-
The [walkability] principles ... make perfect sense for any town or city across the state. — Philip Morris
sionals. Those stakeholders included city and county governments, local foundations and companies. Their collaboration will continue as the Railroad Park Foundation maintains and operates the park. as an appealing, livable place. Three cities were used as examples, each in its own way. Considering the volume of writing devoted to environmental design in so many issues
Mobile in the 1960s linked its system to protection of historic resources with an architec-
of the journal, it is somewhat surprising how long it took us to get around to the subject
tural review board as set forth in Alabama law. Birmingham followed in 1979 mandating
of Design Review, a tool available to any Alabama city or town wishing to shape itself
design review of proposed projects in both historic districts and commercial revitalization districts by a volunteer board supported by city staff. And Mountain Brook in 1998 mandated review for projects in its three village centers and later extended
Very rarely do we build anything that we don’t design, and very rarely do we design anything that we don’t build.
review and approval to all commercial signs, all based on an absolute necessity: clearly stated and illustrated design guidelines. Walkability has been a recurring journal subject over the years, mostly associated with other top-
— Dan Gibson
ics, but thrust forward in its own right in the 2012 annual issue to highlight its importance to livable, workable environments. As Montgomery began implementation of its 2006 Downtown Master Plan,
If you get walkability right in your downtown, everything else falls into place.
city leaders chose to concentrate efforts in a walkable zone between two of its newest attractions, Riverwalk Stadium, its professional baseball park, and the Renaissance Center, a new anchor hotel and attached convention center, with The Alley, a small entertainment district tucked in among historic warehouses.
— John McConnell
The contrast with 1960s auto-centric planning that Photo: Chris Luker
placed Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center on the opposite side of I-20/59 could not be more telling. It seems that people do in fact ‘vote with their feet,’ choosing to walk when it’s inviting and convenient to get to interesting destinations, and Montgomery planned and designed it that way.
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Cities and towns always need to respond to change. I think it’s clear: We are much better today in shaping those changes. — Philip Morris
In that same issue we featured Appleseed Workshop, a three-man design-build team on a mission: to breathe new life into the heart of Birmingham, one building at a time. The firm was formed from a pact between college buddies at Auburn – a contractor, an architect and a craftsman. The seed is the client’s vision, from which they engage experience and expertise to work out a budget so they don’t start something they and the client can’t finish. The process is about design informed by making, and making informed by design, and it has brought about some of Birmingham’s most iconic new structures. Two years after the journal featured Walkable Montgomery, an Alabama movement in that direction was gaining traction. In 2014 we presented three new emerging WalkUPs,
Beyond y 2015
a tag applied to this nationwide phenomenon by real estate analyst Christopher Leinberger to identify ‘walkable urban places.’ In downtown Tuscaloosa a critical mass of mixed uses has been coming together within easy walking distance. Birmingham’s Parkside District adjacent to Railroad Park and the new Regions Field professional baseball park has quickly attracted a significant mix of development between downtown and the UAB campus a few blocks to the south. And in Auburn reinvestment based on a new master plan for one of Alabama’s most popular university downtowns has been making the place even more pedestrian friendly for students, residents and visitors.
I remain in my own designs a minimalist and believe in trying to do the most with the least – simple, and one hopes, elegant design.
As I had the pleasure of reading and considering the more than quarter-century span of DesignAlabama Journals, the evidence mounted and reality emerged clearly from those pages. One: Design truly DOES make a difference. Two: DesignAlabama has been effective in carrying out the mandate it set for itself three
— Cheryl Morgan
decades ago, for through the journal, DesignAlabama has helped create awareness and appreciation for the design principles that influence our environment. And three: The results are spread across the pages of the journal, and our belief has been confirmed that the quality of life and economic growth of this state can be enhanced through attention to and investment in good design.
Cheryl ... has the patience to invest the time and the courage to teach communities and their leaders the tenets of wise and long-lasting design. — Nisa Miranda
In retrospect, there is no doubt that the DesignAlabama Journal has focused most on the built environment and the several disciplines that deal primarily with design at that scale. But that is for a reason: It is our surroundings, where we live, where we dwell. At DesignAlabama we intend to keep at our chosen role – engaging the public in design awareness and education – and providing in our newsletter, DA Online, as The Public Forum for Design in Alabama, a means of increasing awareness and value of the design disciplines that influence our environment.
Over the journal’s 25 volumes in print, we have published a number of Designer Profiles. Our 2014 annual issue featured Cheryl Morgan, FAIA, Professor Emerita, Auburn University,
Thank you for supporting us in print; we hope you
who recently retired as director of Auburn University’s Urban Studio in downtown Birmingham. Beyond her talents as a designer and educator, we cast the spotlight on Cheryl as a consummate design volunteer, always challenging people to discover the many opportunities and ‘great places’ right in their own communities. She helped even the smallest Alabama
continue to support good design and that we may engage you again soon – online. ■
towns understand that good planning and design are expressions of what they will value for years to come. By the time she retired, she had left her imprint on about 75 small Alabama neighborhoods and towns.
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● 2009 (WAEM)
XMayor Raymond Steele
● 2008 (ARC)
XMayor W.R. McKinzey
Pickensville XMayor Bobby Herndon
● 2005 (ARC)
XMayor Gary Fuller
LEE COUNTY ● 2009
CHAMBERS COUNTY ● 1999
XMayor Anna Berry
XMayor Gary Wright
● 1999 & 2012
CLAY COUNTY ● 2012
Anniston/ West Anniston
XMayor Johnnie B. Washington
XMayor Ricky Buckner
ST. CLAIR COUNTY
XMayor Corey Harbison
● 2009 (ARC)
XMayor Drew Gilbert
XMayor Daryl Craig Patterson
XMayor Ray Nelson
XMayor Phil Segraves
XMayor Steve Means
WINSTON COUNTY ● 2005 (ARC)
XMayor Ken Sunseri
College Hills/ Graymont
XMayor Doug Brewer
XMayor Bill Jordan
XMayor Katy Woodall
XMayor Leigh Dollar
XMayor Nickolas Jones
XMayor Waymon “Whitey” Cochran
XMayor Steve Bell
XMayor Melvin Duran
● 2006 (ARC)
● 2001 V 1995
XMayor Ronnie Marks
XMayor David Bradford
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● 2009 (WAEM)
● 2009 (WAEM)
● 2009 (WAEM)
Lakeview Business District
● 2009 (WAEM)
● 2009 (WAEM)
XMayor Byron Pittman
XMayor Charles Houser
XMayor Tim Kant
XMayor Ron Davis
● 2010 (WAEM)
XMayor Ron Davis
XMayor Charles Murphy
● 2009 (WAEM)
XMayor William “Billy” Bush
● 2010 (WAEM)
MONROE COUNTY ● 2008
Auburn University Urban Studio Small Town Design Initiative
XMayor Ryan Blalock
WAEM West Alabama East Mississippi Initiative ARC Appalachian Regional Commission
map design by ROB E RT FI N KE L
XMayor Jonathon Grecu
VDA’s Alabama Community Design Program
XDesignAlabama Mayors Summit
XMayor Kenneth Boswell
XMayor Jerry Andrews
● 2005 (ARC)
● 2010 (ARC)
XMayor Gordon Stone
XMayor George McCain
ELMORE & TALLAPOOSA COUNTIES
XMayor Gary Fuller
XMayor Larry Fluker
XMayor Sheldon Day
XMayor Robert H. Graham
XMayor George Evans
XMayor James Perkins
● 2009 (ARC)
Notasulga MACON COUNTY
XMayor Mike Grayson
XMayor Cecil Williamson
XMayor Thomas M Tartt III
Alabama Community Design Program
Cheryl Morgan, FAIA
In 1989 DesignAlabama developed an initiative known as the Alabama Community Design Program (ACDP). The primary purpose of the ACDP was to provide Alabama communities with technical assistance in creating strategic master plans for community development and downtown revitalization. The program provided a means to focus the efforts of the entire community on leveraging its physical, economic and human resources. A community with a plan and with a strong sense of shared vision is more competitive and more likely to achieve long-term success in attracting new businesses, new resources, new partners and in advancing the opportunities of existing businesses. DesignAlabama believed that communities without the financial resources to hire design professionals should not be denied this competitive advantage. The ACDP targeted Alabama’s small towns that did not have full-time planning staff or perhaps experience in understanding and valuing the impact of good planning and design.
A POSTER CHILD FOR THIS “CAN DO SPIRIT” is the town of Valley, which participated in the first Your Town Alabama workshop. City clerk Martha Cato went home “on fire” for making things happen, and in 1999 the town invited DesignAlabama there for an ACDP. The results reinforced momentum that already was underway. New recommendations included leveraging the town’s 26 miles of Chattahoochee River frontage and creating a stronger sense of a town center with the adaptive reuse of the Langdale Mill. Over the years Valley has become a master of building partnerships and finding expertise with state and federal agencies, universities and design professionals. It has won numerous awards, including an Alabama American Planning Association
The ACDP was modeled on the American Institute of Architects’ Rural/Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) program that was established in the mid-1960s. In this program – as in the ACDP – a team of volunteer professionals is recruited to work with a community during a focused three to five days of addressing the potentials of the town. The work is on the ground in the community and begins with a town-hall style meeting. It is important to hear from citizens and stakeholders about the things they value in their community. At the end of the workshop, the teams’ recommendations are presented in another town-hall meeting along with illustrations that can help visualize “one way” that the concepts of the master plan might be realized. In the following months a final report is presented to the community in a pamphlet-style document the community may use to build support for the plan’s recommendation. Between 1989 and 1999 DesignAlabama’s ACDP initiative worked with eight communities: Clanton, Florence, Andalusia, Scottsboro, Hartselle, Winfield, Valley and Marion.
Award and a national Environmental Planning Association Notable Achievement Award. It has attracted $994,300 in grants and is working jointly with its neighbor communities of West Point,
Your Town Alabama
Ga., and Lanett, Ala., to develop a Chattahoochee Blueway.
In 1998 Alabama hosted its first Your Town program. This three-day workshop introduces citizen-leaders to the concepts of assets-based design and broadens grassroots
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Marion's STDI poster
Planning professor John Pittari works with local citizens during Abbeville’s charette.
knowledge of design as a tool for economic development and revitalization. DesignAlabama along with the Alabama Historical Commission, Auburn’s Urban Studio, the University of Alabama’s Center for Economic Development, the state’s regional planning commissions and CAWACO RC&D was an early sponsor of this program. Since 1998 Your Town Alabama has trained more than 1,000 Alabamians in the concepts of leveraging natural, historic/cultural and economic assets for building prosperity and a higher quality of life. Fundamental to the Your Town program – and to DA’s ACDP – is the premise that creating good places to live, work, play and worship is essential to economic development. Communities that create the best place to live send a strong signal to potential businesses, industry and residents that they are proud of their community and are willing to work hard to make it the best it can be. The most successful communities display strong evidence of pride and a tangible sense that they believe they can make good things happen in their community.
Photos and graphics courtesy of Cheryl Morgan
Facilitator Cheryl Morgan (right) talks with Diane Clifton of AU’s Office of Communications in an interview about the Valley charette.
MARION IS A GREAT EXAMPLE of a community that participated in both the DA ACDP (1999) and subsequently the STDI (2012). Their Design Marion ACDP highlighted the opportunities of Marion’s history and geography. The town is home to Judson College, Marion Military Institute and is the birthplace of Coretta Scott King. It hosted Andrew Young’s first pastorate and is central to almost everything Southern Baptist in Alabama. The town has dozens of antebellum homes and one of the most beautiful courthouses in the Blackbelt. With these incredible assets the design team saw much opportunity. This
Auburn’s Urban Studio Small Town Design Initiative
potential energized Marion, and between 1999 and 2012 they
In 1999 DesignAlabama’s ACDP was transferred to Auburn University’s Birminghambased Urban Studio as the Small Town Design Initiative (STDI.) Auburn saw the ACDP as a logical and appropriate way to walk-the-talk of their land grant outreach mission. In addition, the Urban Studio could bring a capacity to the original goals of DA’s ACDP
and successes. The 2012 STDI focused on recreation, trails,
could document more than 200 improvements, new businesses
connectivity, the potential for tourism and building partnerships with neighboring communities for regional impact.
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Mapping and reimagining Cordova
that was not possible when DA was dependent solely on professional volunteer time and availability. Between 1999 and 2013 Urban Studio developed 75 illustrative master plans.
The Downtown Study map sparks interest at Greenville’s town hall meeting.
One evolution from the DA ACDP to the AU STDI was the introduction of a poster as the reporting tool of the master plan. While the pamphlet produced by DA was an excellent companion to the DA Journal, the Urban Studio developed a 22" × 34" three-color poster that gave a snapshot of the plan’s concepts and illustrative drawings. Samples of the Urban Studio’s Small Town Design Initiative posters may be seen at the Auburn University Library’s digital collections site: http://diglib.auburn.edu/collections/urbanstudio/.
Mayors Summit CORDOVA MAYOR DREW GILBERT attended the 2013 Mayors Summit. Cordova was recovering from two devastating tornados that struck the town in April 2011. That day they lost lives and they lost their entire downtown, including the town hall, police department, fire department, library, senior center and their grocery store. Cordova had had an Auburn STDI in 2003. Having a plan gave the community a jump-start in working with FEMA to develop a recovery strategy. Mayor Gilbert brought the proposals for downtown as his design challenge. The team and his fellow mayors helped him see how to remain true to the systemic concepts while finding tangible ways to move from plan to action. In the last two years Cordova has had ribbon cuttings for a new downtown grocery store and a new town hall and police department. Both buildings are “urban” rather than suburban and anchor the restoration of a TRUE downtown for Cordova.
ONE OF PLANNING’S MOST ENDURING QUOTES is from Daniel Burnham, the planner who headed a team that transformed Chicago in preparation for the 1893 World’s Fair: “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood …. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work; remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing ….” – Daniel Burnham, 1891
Another legacy of the Alabama Community Design Program is the ongoing DesignAlabama Mayors Summit. Begun in 2006, this program is modeled on the NEA Mayors’ Institute on City Design that was initiated by the Honorable Joe Riley, the long-standing mayor of Charleston, S.C. Mayor Riley, who is also an architect, considers a mayor the “senior planner for a community.” And in that role he saw the need for a forum that would allow mayors a place to get feedback – to test – with their peers and design experts game-changing concepts and ideas that might be catalytic for prosperity and high quality of life. DA’s Mayors Summit brings together five mayors from selected communities in an annual event that is organized around presentations and round-table discussions. The mayors bring projects and/or project ideas. They solicit feedback and design solutions from a resource team of community design experts, as well as from their fellow mayors. These closed-door summits allow for open, frank discussions of assets and challenges, and in this rapid-fire context there is the potential to test options from blue-sky to pragmatic. Thirty-nine mayors have participated in the Mayors Summit to date. For more information about participating in an upcoming Mayors Summit, visit our website: http:// designalabama.org/mayor_summit.html. What is the common denominator in all these DesignAlabama initiatives? Empowering the citizens of Alabama to leverage the things that make us distinct and special through design, planning and design-thinking. It’s a powerful grass-roots approach that brings people together to articulate what’s good in their community and to develop a plan! We all know that failing to plan is planning to fail. DesignAlabama has consistently, always, been part of the potential for Alabama communities to: Get a plan! ●
Cheryl Morgan, who recently retired as director of Auburn University’s Urban Studio in Birmingham, is a Professor Emerita, Auburn University, and an architect and urban planner.
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Tactical Urbanism can take on many forms; one of the most recognizable is guerilla wayfinding tactics some groups use to direct people to great places in their communities. These tactics don't ask permission first – they are responses to needs people see and act on. Photo courtesy of REV Birmingham
Linear Motion, the creation of industrial designer Lloyd Cooper, is an interactive sculpture at McWane Science Plaza in Birmingham that animates the space and engages passersby with sound and movement. Photo by Wes Frazer
Alabama and the Future of
Designers always have been doers –
championing, celebrating and collaborating with people, places and projects – and now there is a heightened sense of activity in our profession. This is not to say we haven’t been active before, but now we have an acute awareness to our purpose; we can see through the lens of our immediate past as we transition from discussing, collaborating and planning to action. As you have read in previous articles in this last journal, DesignAlabama has been leveraging resources, connecting people and helping to develop, market and showcase the importance of design, built projects and design professionals. As this ground swell has been nurtured, tested and put into action through DesignAlabama’s work, designers are ready for the next chapter. The design community has been contributing to the results by developing partnerships, connecting people, places and ideas, celebrating triumphs and learning from our mistakes as we move forward. The results are not only built projects but are the ongoing collaboration with our communities and the people who inhabit them. Policies, tools, projects and partners that have been emerging and developing for years are now being tied into a new lexicon to define their roles. The words and phrases are making their way from our journals and projects to meetings and conversations and into classrooms: Ecological Urbanism, Tactical Urbanism, Makers, Integrated Project Delivery, Form-Based and Placemaking.
By Ben Wieseman Designers have a new arsenal of policies, tools and built examples that are shaping our actions. They range from three-dimensional programs such as Sketch-up and REVIT, to digital management software like ASANA and Basecamp, to social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. We are developing new skills and expanding individual abilities as design professions become more and more integrated in everything we do. The energy with which designers are attacking issues, connecting assets and taking advantage of opportunities is infectious. But designers do so with the knowledge that it is a new spin on our traditional values, beliefs and concepts. These new ways of thinking about ideas and strategies along with new metrics and needs from individuals are helping us find new ways to implement and reframe concepts like community, collaboration and place. We always have been surrounded by core ideas and built examples such as historic architecture and the great plazas and cities we inhabit. These places demonstrate our values in their built form; they bring us together and allow for community to flourish. Now we are designing, developing and building new great places to serve both our current and future needs as living demonstrations of our values. Railroad Park in Birmingham is just such a project. It is not only a place that is supporting quality of life needs, such as diversity, gathering space, urban green space and activities, but one that is improving and raising the level of investment around it. A place and now a district that is commanding some of the highest real estate prices and level of development activity in the state, as people are coming back to live, work and play in and around the park. 21 Volume XXV 23 Volume IX, No. 1
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Ecological Urbanism – “… is about city-making that focuses on the landscape elements and their continuity – it’s partly about naturemaking in the city, but it is also an approach that adds the sensibility and techniques of ecology as a science to the making and remaking of cities ….” — Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA
Tactical Urbanism –“A city and citizen-led approach to neighborhood building using short-term, low-cost and scalable interventions to catalyze long-term change.” — tacticalurbanismguide.com
Makers – “A maker is a blend of an artist and a crafts person,
Using advanced bikeshare technology including electric pedal assist, solar-powered stations and live GPS, Zyp BikeShare offers a convenient and fun way to travel throughout downtown Birmingham. A fleet
of 40 docking stations and 400 bikes encourages residents and visitors alike to explore the city from a whole new point of view. Photo courtesy of Zyp Bikeshare
Historic brick warehouses lining Montgomery’s The Alley house mainly restaurants and bars on ground level with residential lofts and other uses above. The alley is a social gathering space and attractive walkway connecting to other venues. Photo by Lewis Kennedy
someone with the creativity to invent something new and the skills to realize it, someone who lives a life that is local and handmade. A maker utilizes the traditions that have shaped them and works hard at keeping their integrity while pushing forward. A maker makes.” — Jennifer Greg, Southern Makers
Southern Makers event in Montgomery celebrates hand-made products and art created by Alabamians. Photo courtesy of Southern Makers
Integrated Project Delivery – “Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.” — American Institute of Architects
Form Based – “A form-based code is a land development regulation that fosters predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. A form-based code is a regulation, not a mere guideline, adopted into city, town, or county law. A form-based code offers a powerful alternative to conventional zoning regulation.”
This trend is playing out in the real estate market and our communities now. More and more individuals are diving into entrepreneurial business start-ups. They are investing in themselves and their communities and opening up new opportunities. Across the state people are moving from traditional rural and suburban developments back into the heart of their communities, into their main streets and downtowns, because it is in these places that the physical environments have the assets, such as diversity choice and walkability, that they are seeking. In the last few generations walkability has swung from being a standard development practice and part of the physical environment of our cities to just an idea, as the dominance of the car and our dependence on it has grown. Now walkability is a metric we use to rate the quality of a place, and it has become a desired choice we are reinvesting in and developing, because it is critical for achieving the quality of life people are demanding. Alabamians are once again connecting the patterns of our life style to our environment and seeking out places where we can live, work and play. What we always have known and forgot to practice, we are once again realizing – healthy, diverse walkable places make for healthy, high-quality lifestyles.
— Form Based Code Institute.
Placemaking – “… a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, Placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.”
These patterns and values are not just found in our sidewalk infrastructure but in our push for multimodal solutions in our public realm. Communities are developing and reinvesting in public transit across the state, in our cities, academic campuses and neighborhoods. As transit options are increasing, we now are working on and investing in new bicycle infrastructure from bike lanes to bike shares. REV Birmingham is launching the state’s first BikeShare system this fall. We are not just connecting our cities internally, we also are looking at larger, regional connections through a network of trails. The Alabama
Trails Commission is a state-level organization that is advocating, developing and promoting trails across the state, stitching communities and cities not just to destinations and activities but to each other. Bikeshare can deliver a variety of health, environmental, economic, transportation and mobility and safety benefits. When combined with other modes of transportation, BikeShare can provide a fundamental shift in the way people move about and make decisions on transportation. In cities across the U.S., BikeShare systems have proven popular as an easy-to-use transportation option to get around town. Zyp BikeShare is a dense network of 40 kiosks and 400 bikes deployed in Birmingham in the fall of 2015 that residents and visitors can access 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. Riders can check out bicycles for short rides through annual memberships or by swiping their credit cards. The design community keeps moving forward. Before we used our professional expertise to problem solve by identifying assets and issues, building consensus and ideas, followed by developing strategies and plans and then implementation; now there is a new twist. Where designers led before, we are finding that individuals, residents, communities are more and more leading the way. They are relying on professional expertise, bold visions and big ideas. But more and more they are leading the way in implementation and action.
ZYP BikeShare is committed to positively affecting how residents, employees and visitors experience the city. It allows for increased access and connectivity to different parts of the city,
— Project for Public Spaces
replacing single-occupancy vehicle trips and promoting an active lifestyle. DesignAlabama 22
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The main walk through Railroad Park in Birmingham follows the line of historic Powell Avenue through the park bordered by continuous seat walls. Framed by
the city skyline, expanses of lawn, performance areas, water features, the rail trail and play spaces beckon young and old alike. Photo by Sylvia Martin
(Above) Signs direct pedestrians to UAB Hospital along tree-lined Highland Avenue in Birmingham. The wayfinding signage system by KPS Group employed a design, bid, build contract for the project’s process and implementation. Photo courtesy of REV Birmingham (Far Left) Homewood’s Central Park renovation invites strolling with wide sidewalks, attractive bridges, special lighting, winding creek and small pond. The project was a collaboration between Birchfield Penuel & Associates and Ross Land Design. Photo courtesy of Ross Land Design (Left) This year Woodlawn has had three street markets in the neighborhood, drawing 60-70 vendors each event with thousands of visitors and residents coming out to support the markets and invest in their community’s small businesses. Photo courtesy of REV Birmingham
Through new technologies designers are more connected now than ever before, so more conversations and ideas are being shared. There are more activities and projects being undertaken not just by professionals but by community members and grass-roots organizations mobilizing individuals to enact change and broaden the discussion. These partner organizations are a combination of municipal, grass roots and individuals who are coming together to lend their specific talents to take on challenges and implement projects and strategies for their community needs. These groups range from our universities and the expertise and funding they can bring to projects and research; to community groups, like the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, that connect people to ideas they implement and provide funding for; to individuals who have stepped in to embrace their communities, such as the Woodlawn Foundation, born from the philanthropic Goodrich family support to focus on revitalizing the Woodlawn Community; and organizations, like REV Birmingham in partnership with the City of Birmingham, that work across multiple communities to deliver specific projects and tools to revitalize places. Our tool box has grown in response to the needs of people and places they inhabit. Designers are teaching ourselves and training each other on skills that were falling by the wayside and celebrating the design, art and craft that is emerging. We see this in the Makers movement and groups and events like Southern Makers. We have new ways to activate residents and projects such as Tactical Urbanism and Crowd Sourcing. We are using and defining processes and programs like Integrated Project Delivery, Form-Based Planning and Land Bank Authorities. We have revived our statewide Main Street program and are taking our community plans of the past and implementing them.
Railroad Park, 2012 winner of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Urban Open Space Award, is a 19-acre green space in downtown Birmingham that celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage of our great city. Situated along First Avenue South, between 14th and 18th streets, the park is a joint effort between the City of Birmingham and the Railroad Park Foundation. Hailed as "Birmingham's Living Room," Railroad Park provides a historically rich venue for local recreation, family activities, concerts and cultural events while connecting Birmingham's downtown area with Southside and UAB's campus. Since Railroad Park’s initial opening in 2010, there has been more than $200 million in investment and new construction in a five-block radius around the park.
We are bringing down the separation and “silos” of social needs, design and economics and once again designing and creating places that bring us together and support all of our needs and values to create healthy, vibrant places for ourselves and the next generation. We are doing this in a flourish of new activity with new roles and renewed energy. This activity is coming from the same place, inside of us and the people around us. Where is our future? Our future is in each other. It is connecting to our values. It is applying solutions that reach across agendas and singular issues to create great places for us all. It is keeping the communication open and free flowing, inviting everyone to participate and helping each other succeed. Now more than ever, we can see the seeds of design and planning flourishing as individuals engage in the process and go out and invest their time, money and energy back into their communities. Our challenge now is rising to these new expectations, to utilize the tools we have to keep the conversation going and to keep the activity alive.
Ben Wieseman is the director of catalytic development for REV Birmingham. He is a licensed landscape architect and has a planning certification with the American Institute of Certified Planners.
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Philip Morris: Champion of Design By Alice M. Bowsher
Photo courtesy of Philip Morris
In towns and cities across the state – whether face-to-face or through his far-reaching writing – Philip Morris has brought untold converts to appreciate that authentic, livable places make life good and to raise awareness of what we can do to enhance and protect them.
Philip Morris leads a group in spring 2015 on a Vulcan Foundation downtown tour. Photo by Glenny Brock
Though long a champion of design and placemaking in Alabama, he didn’t start out as an “Alabama boy.” Fortunately for the state, some 35 years ago he left his native Oklahoma City to join Birmingham-based Southern Living magazine. Once here he not only created a new department for the fledgling magazine, but he also helped shape the magazine’s distinctive voice, celebrating the special character of Southern living and Southern places. And he delivered a fuller understanding of urban design in the bargain. Morris says he always has been interested in the “character of place.” Even as a young newspaper reporter in Oklahoma City, his interests gravitated to the bigger idea of place. So he seized opportunities to write about urban design topics in addition to his regular beat covering suburban towns. That is until the newspaper asked him to write an article touting an 8-mile monorail intended to link the city center to the suburbs. Knowing that such an incongruous and arbitrary project would have undermined the unifying effect of the historic urban fabric – and not one to waffle on his convictions – Morris refused. This led to his departure from daily journalism. He decided to visit Europe for the first time, with a one-way ticket. A two-year adventure ensued with widespread travel, exploring and learning. When he finally returned to Oklahoma City to work for another newspaper, he once again expanded his assignment, covering city hall, to address broader issues of urban design. Then Southern Living recruited him. As the magazine grew it gave Morris a platform to talk about design and broader issues related to the character of Southern places. His approach – looking at the bigger picture of what makes places special – married urban design with historic preservation. After all, preservation pioneered the concept of historic districts, where the fabric of buildings and landscape woven together can be greater than the individual structures. The idea connects naturally with urban design, which aspires to the same appeal and quality of life. As Morris says, “Preservation should be like breathing.” His insights contributed significantly to the expanding magazine readership and the popularity of its reporting on travel around the region. He defined the magazine’s broad understanding that “place” is
not limited to architecture alone and soon introduced coverage of landscape architecture. The field, just getting under way in the South, was a natural fit with urban design and historic preservation. The magazine’s early days were a time of tremendous creative freedom, allowing him to write about historic preservation and the character of places, reclaiming the identity of waterfronts and so much more, showing readers how design can help secure and strengthen the unique identity of a place. Recently Morris reflected on some of the endeavors that have brought him satisfaction over the decades. He mentioned how he reached people beyond his editorial platform through some 15 to 20 annual public presentations tailored specifically to civic groups, preservationists and other gatherings. Small towns and cities everywhere faced challenges of how to change with the times and yet retain their core character and authenticity. He would get to town the day before a talk and take slides, which he then incorporated into the talk. This helped the audience see their assets and challenges with fresh eyes along with ideas from what communities elsewhere in the region were doing to protect, celebrate and reinforce authentic expressions of “place.” His philosophy was to persuade by showing positive outcomes, not by preaching or pointing fingers. Although he emphasized the positive with examples of attractive outcomes, occasionally he also showed what he calls “my little shop of horrors” to help people envision how inappropriate development or neglect can compromise identity. What impact did these talks have? He cited one example from the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. A group there – many of them retired business executives and others with strong networks including the local Alabama Power Co. representative – invited him to speak. At the time a major road expansion was slated along U.S. Highway 98, likely opening the door to highway-scale signs and nondescript development out of step with the local character that had grown up over time. Morris showed the group examples of attractive signage and public landscaping elsewhere, which inspired them to act. The resources, influence and commitment the group members commanded produced results. And fortunately, three communities
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Philip Morris at Railroad Park, a project he enthusiastically supported and helped shape as a Railroad Park committee member. Photo by Mark Schimetti
Architect Cheryl Morgan, landscape architect Lea Ann Macknally and Philip Morris being interviewed for a book that includes Railroad Park. Photo courtesy of Philip Morris
along the route – Daphne, Montrose and Fairhope – had the capacity to pass ordinances that could prevent their towns’ settings from becoming an unsightly hodgepodge of visual clutter. Keys to the successful outcome included engaged leadership and the fact that the towns already had the requisite power to take protective action with sign ordinances. To further secure the results, they lined the sides of the divided highway with live oaks and planted crepe myrtles along the median. Morris played a key role in establishing DesignAlabama to be an advocacy group to educate the public about good design in the state. In particular, he shaped the focus and impact of DesignAlabama Journal, a publication whose well-written articles, attention-getting photography and graphic quality made it an influential tool in promoting the importance of design among readers, from business leaders to practitioners. Another outcome of DesignAlabama that Morris cites as “very positive” is the annual Mayors Design Summit. Every spring since 2006 the summit brings selected mayors together to look at the benefits to Alabama communities of good design and planning. Another source of pride Morris mentioned are the books the Birmingham Historical Society published under his leadership, particularly “Cinderella Stories: Transformations of Historic Birmingham Buildings,” showcasing the city center's commercial preservation success, and “Designs on Birmingham: A Landscape History of a Southern City and Its Suburbs,” a landscape history charting the city's early planning and development plus more notable recent examples. Both were strategic in encouraging and protecting a sense of place. Vulcan Park and Museum is a project in which he had a direct hand helping shape a successful preservation, landscape and community programming outcome. As co-chair of the planning committee, he relished being part of a larger design team that took a major existing landmark, severely deteriorated, and gave it new life. Morris helped achieve a preservationbased approach, sensitively adapted to modern demands where necessary, along with thoughtful, engaging programming that reaches out to the broader community and an interpretive museum that provides
an overview of the city and its history. Awards and an enthusiastic public proved the worth of the result. He served on the VPM Board of Directors and continues to play a valuable role in the walking tours Vulcan sponsors downtown and in historic neighborhoods. Morris also served on the committee that helped shape Birmingham’s award-winning Railroad Park. Like Vulcan Park and Museum, it combines history with serving a wealth of community interests and needs. The 19-acre green space that runs through the heart of the city parallels the tracks that gave birth to Birmingham. It is a venue for recreation, family activities, concerts and cultural events. Continuing to reflect, he mentions design review as a tool to reinforce and protect authentic identity. He applauds the good work the City of Birmingham Design Review Committee has done over many years, once again citing the importance of historic preservation, which introduced the idea of design review to protect community character, and the importance of place-based planning. Morris, himself, chaired the City of Mountain Brook Villages Design Review Committee. The list of Philip Morris’ individual contributions goes on and on. Most important though, is the totality of what he has given to the state – a legacy of appreciation to protect and support the special places that making living here worthwhile.
Architectural historian and preservationist Alice Meriwether Bowsher is the author of “Alabama Architecture: Looking at Buildings” and “Place and Community in Alabama: Architecture for Living Together.” She has collaborated with Philip Morris on a variety of projects through the years.
Philip Morris is as committed to supporting his passion for design with charitable giving as with his time and talents. In an interview with the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, where he has a donor-advised fund, he said, “I want to be able to give now and in the future to help preserve design. The more people understand and appreciate our city’s design, the more likely they are to save what we have.” Morris began working with the CFGB as a donor to the foundation’s Catalyst Fund, a major initiative of philanthropic venture funds occasioned by the foundation’s 50th anniversary, to allow the community foundation and its donors to do “big things to transform the Greater Birmingham community.” One of its first projects was Birmingham Lights, an art project that enlivens and knits together underpass linkages downtown. Establishment of Morris’ donor-advised fund followed. Beyond these two commitments to fund design projects that enhance community, Morris has further extended his philanthropic legacy through a future fund that will combine his donor-advised fund with a planned bequest, which will establish a long-term fund to support the role of design arts in building and enhancing the community now and into the future.
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Nancy Mims Hartsfield: DesignAlabama’s First Lady by Samantha Lawrie
n 1987 DesignAlabama was incorporated as a statewide organization dedicated to educating the public about the importance of good design. Soon after,
Becky Mullen, DesignAlabama’s first executive director, Philip Morris, then executive editor of Southern Living, and Nancy Hartsfield, professor of graphic design at Auburn University, were charged with the creation of the journal. As Mullen writes in the premier issue, “One of the managing editor of the journal. A designer first projects DesignAlabama engaged in was the meeting was always a merry reunion where planning and production of this journal, and it will gentle guidance –“Don’t you think that type be our most important tool for communication and looks a bit horsey?” says Hartsfield in her the exchange of ideas.” While Morris and Mullen lilting Southern accent – was shared over lunch. generated the content, Hartsfield’s design brought Hartsfield has served as art director for the their collective vision to life and made the journal journal for all 25 volumes and has mentored a tangible reality. myriad young designers in the process. artsfield developed the structure and Beyond her achievement with the journal, the overall look of the journal while on mentoring of artists and graphic designers may sabbatical from Auburn University. The generous be Hartsfield’s most significant contribution to tabloid format allowed for both in-depth articles the discipline. Hartsfield taught fundamental and the large images needed to showcase the classes and graphic design at Auburn University work of Alabama designers. Hartsfield’s careful for 35 years, serving her last four years as interim selection of typefaces and crafting of style guidehead of the art department. With colleague lines for the journal established a polished, John Morgan, Hartsfield secured the first Apple contemporary yet approachable aesthetic perfectly computer lab at Auburn University, ensuring that suited for the journal’s general audience. Even Auburn graduates would be fluent in the latest so, the journal was “cutting-edge.” From the start technologies. “I was among the first students to Hartstfield designed and produced the journal benefit from her successful effort to create the using the most advanced technology of the very first Apple computer lab for Auburn Univertime – the Apple computer. The new technology sity’s graphic design department. I remember it revolutionized the fields of publication and graphic being very exciting, and she was there day in and design and gave Hartsfield complete control of day out – hands on – patiently teaching us how to typography, design and page-layout eliminating use new technology to support conceptual design,” the need for professional type-setting and remembers Angela Stiff, principal and creative mechanical paste-ups. Hartsfield’s early embrace director of communications firm Copperwing of the computer-as-design-tool with its formidable (www.copperwing.com). Hartsfield was affectionlearning curve marks her as a consummate ately known as the “Velvet Hammer” by students design professional – as do the late nights over a and colleagues, and the nickname aptly describes Christmas holiday spent preparing the journal for her productive pairing of patient support with a January press date. “The design of the journal high expectations. That numerous students have was a labor of love,” says Hartsfield, who often maintained relationships with Hartsfield well into refers to the journal as her child. their professional lives is telling of her devotion While she produced the first volume (spring and impact. “I have loved every minute of my and fall issues) of the journal herself, by Volume teaching career,” says Hartsfield. “It has been a II Hartsfield adopted a team approach to the major part of my life.” journal’s design. Colleagues and young graphic Though retired from teaching and finished designers were invited to share the fun. For each with this last issue of DesignAlabama Journal, issue articles were assigned and style guidelines Hartsfield is as busy as ever. As a founding member were reviewed. As work progressed Hartsfield of the DesignAlabama Board of Directors, met regularly with the group to critique spreads Hartsfield will continue serving on the board as and massage individual efforts into a unified co-vice-chair of communications, being joined expression of DesignAlabama. “Nancy creates a this year by Angela Stiff. Instrumental in establishfamily atmosphere of support when working with ing the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art those around her, serene yet determined to in Auburn as co-chair of its building committee, inspire our best efforts,” says Tomie Dugas, Hartsfield now serves on the JCSM Advisory Board
The design team from left to right: Gina Glaze Clifford, Samantha Lawrie, Robert Finkel, Wei Wang, Nancy Mims Hartsfield, Bruce Dupree, Courtney Windham and Tomie Dugas.
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Bark in the Park Day at Riverfront Stadium, acrylic painting by Nancy Mims Hartsfield. “Last spring the Montgomery Advertiser ran an editorial titled “Celebrating the Rebirth of Downtown”, which spoke to me. After several revealing excursions around the downtown district, I was immensely impressed with how beautiful and viable it had become, an extraordinary mix of historic old with tasteful modern – all-in-all, most attractive!” says Hartsfield. You can view Hartsfield’s artwork at nancymimshartsfield.com.
The designerly elegance Hartsfield brings to the journal also can be found in the logo she designed for the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
Executive Committee. And in addition to these responsibilities, Hartsfield has embarked on an active and successful painting career. She has exhibited every year since retirement from Auburn University and continues to explore new media and subject matter. Her work is represented in public, corporate and private collections throughout the region. Recently Hartsfield was selected by the Montgomery Area Business Council on the Arts to create several works celebrating the city of Montgomery. Hartsfield’s paintings – described as fresh views of familiar local downtown spots – were then awarded to the recipients of the 2014 Business in the Arts Awards at an annual event recognizing River Region businesses that provide exceptional support to the arts. “I’ve spent my whole life trying to tell people how important art is to economic development,” Hartsfield told the Montgomery Advertiser. As a graphic designer and an artist, Hartsfield believes a community’s business and design arts worlds serve one another – this includes the visual and cultural arts as well. “Working together, business, design and the arts can shape a community, which attracts good business and good people,” explains Hartsfield. raphic designer, teacher, painter, mentor, board member, arts advocate, friend – Nancy Hartsfield is above all a woman who cares deeply for people. “Throughout her career Nancy has worked to provide new opportunities for others,” says Stiff. The DesignAlabama Journal is an artifact not only of Hartsfield’s commitment to good design but also of her care for the good people of Alabama. ✎
My fondest memories are of all the people I have worked with over the years: Philip Morris, of course, members of the DesignAlabama board, professional people associated with the design industry, the people at the Alabama State Council on the Arts and my colleagues in graphic design. Producing the journal has been a joy because of the wonderful people who worked with me along the way. Professor Ross Heck joined me on the third journal in 1989 as associate art director and worked by my side until 2009. Professor Wei Wang joined the design team in 1999 and became the associate art director in 2009. Wang also designed the website for DesignAlabama and the template for the digital newsletter. Professors John Morgan and Ray Dugas contributed digital illustrations in the early days of the journal, which were cutting-edge for the time. Tomie Dugas came on board in 1994 and became managing editor in 1995. With degrees in both graphic design and journalism, she has done a tremendous job in planning, researching, writing, designing, editing and organizing the material. We couldn’t have done it without her. Both students and graduate students have contributed along the way. Professor Samantha Lawrie has both written and designed articles since 1998. Other colleagues who have contributed their design skills are Professor Kelly Bryant, Professor Dana Gay, June Corley and Bruce Dupree. In fact, Dupree not only has designed articles but also has shot digital photographs when needed. Newcomers Professor Courtney Windham and Professor Robert Finkel joined the team for the last three journals and have held to the standards. Many thanks to all of these talented and professional people. It has been a fun ride!
— Nancy Mims Hartsfield
Samantha Lawrie is an associate professor of graphic design at Auburn University. She was a 2015 recipient of an Alabama State Council on the Arts design fellowship, and her work is currently on display at The Georgine Clarke Alabama Artists Gallery in Montgomery.
Art director Nancy Hartsfield with past associate art director Ross Heck (right) and current associate art director Wei Wang (center).
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in Historic Preservation by Mary Mason Shell
The Alabama Historical Commission’s (AHC) story begins before it was formally established, and most members of the general public and even many in Alabama’s preservation community may be unaware of the role that Alabama leaders played in establishing national historic preservation legislation. These early efforts were key to developing and maintaining Alabama’s current stewardship of the state’s varied and many historic and cultural resources. Alabama’s current historic preservation environment owes much of its infrastructure to passage of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, yet few realize how much influence a native of Sand Mountain in DeKalb County had on this critical legislation. Albert M. Rains served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1945 to 1965. National programs bearing his legislative imprint include affordable housing and elderly housing, urban renewal and redevelopment and rural housing programs. He wrote the nation’s first mass transit bill and was instrumental in legislation leading to the creation of the interstate highway system. Rains was an ardent supporter of the Tennessee Valley Authority and supported legislation that provided for the full development of the Coosa-Alabama river system. His work also led to the establishment of Alabama’s first national military park at Horseshoe Bend in Tallapoosa County. Rains’ contribution to national historic preservation policy occurred after his retirement from the U.S. House of Representatives. George Hartzog Jr., NPS director, recalled, “In 1964, Rep. Albert M. Rains, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Housing, indicated to Laurance G. Henderson (director of the Senate Committee on Small Business) that he would be interested in pursuing a project of public interest after retirement. Henderson and Carl Feiss, a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, decided that the former congressman should lead a special committee that would examine preservation activities in Europe and prepare a report detailing the need for preservation in the United States.” Working with this committee was an opportunity to reverse the destructive impact of urban renewal and highway projects on our nation’s historic properties. The committee saw one of the major impacts on places of national heritage from urban renewal programs in the core of the cities. Highways were busting right through cities, destroying neighborhoods, downtowns, archaeological sites and historic places. The Ford Foundation provided funds for the Governors Association, the League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to participate on the committee. These groups were very potent political organizations, and the League of Cities membership included prominent preservationists. Committee members went to Europe to discuss restoration and to discover and evaluate what had happened on that continent after the devastation of World War II. Several weeks after returning from Europe, the Rains Committee met in New York City and approved recommendations for drafting a new national historic preservation program in the United States. While chairman of the study group, Rains filed a report with the Ford Foundation, which turned into a best-selling book titled “With Heritage So Rich.” As a result of this
U.S. Congressman Albert Rains presents an American flag to Postmistress Genie Lister in Rainsville on August 30, 1964. All photos courtesy of the AHC
far-reaching and extensive study, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 was enacted by the United States Congress. Correspondence shows that Rains was building state support for the national legislation in the spring of 1966 when he responded to a letter from Mrs. Axford of the Women’s Club of Gadsden. He describes the national legislation introduced and suggests she encourage state legislators to read the bill. His pride in these efforts was apparent when he delivered the address “Preservation Ð A National Phenomenon” in 1968 at the first annual meeting of the Alabama Historical Commission, which would serve as the state partner in the National Historic Preservation Act. Rep. Robert Edington of Mobile led our state efforts to develop policy and legislation to protect Alabama’s heritage. During his eight years of service in the Alabama House of Representatives and four years as a senator from Mobile County, he aided in the legislation establishing the Alabama Historical Commission, the USS Alabama Battleship Commission and various local historic districts in the city of Mobile. For his legislative efforts Edington
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The Rice-Semple-Haardt House, headquarters for the AHC, is moved from its original location near the state Capitol in the late 1990s to make way for new development.
received a national award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C. Many Alabamians remember participating in the unique fundraising technique to restore the USS Alabama involving donations from Alabama schoolchildren. In June of 1966 around the same time the National Preservation Act was introduced, Edington introduced State Act 168 creating the Alabama Historical Commission. Correspondence shows he shared the draft of the bill with universities, county and local historical societies and other state governments for input and support. The bill passed on August 19, 1966. With leadership from Milo B. Howard, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the AHC was organized and priorities developed. In a letter to Gov. Lurleen Wallace on March 24, 1966, Howard reports that at the organizational meeting of the AHC, the following officers were adopted: chair, Milo Howard; vice-chair, John M. Ward; secretary, Mrs. Sidney Van Antwerp; treasurer, Dr. Ralph B. Draughon. Warner Floyd was hired as the first director and served from September 1, 1967, until August 22, 1978. Agendas for early organizational meetings included discussion of the National Historic Preservation Act and the role of AHC. Howard served as the state historic preservation officer, the link to the National Preservation Act, in these early years of the program. Gaineswood Plantation and the Tecumseh were two properties discussed in these early years with Gaineswood eventually becoming one of the many properties managed and interpreted by the Alabama Historical Commission. Reading correspondence in these formative years of the agency, the expression “the more things change, the more they stay the same” comes to mind. A letter to Mrs. Norwood in Birmingham from Floyd thanks her for her interest in a historic house near Clio. He goes on to say the state does not have funds to renovate the house but encourages her to provide information to list it on the National Register. A hand-written note on the copy of the letter states, “can be used for similar letters,” indicating the frequency Floyd heard from property owners and citizens concerned about an important piece of their local history. This connection with local historic preservation interests remains a big part of AHC’s overall mission. Staff at the AHC continue to hear from concerned citizens looking to save historic resources and provide them with helpful and accurate information. Montgomery native Milo Barrett Howard Jr. (1933-1981) headed the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) from 1967-1981 and served as Alabama’s first state historic preservation officer.
Floyd is the author of early NR nominations and deserves credit for his ambitious approach. In an early report on the future development of the AHC, he planned to add 1,000 listings to the National Register, and at the time our state had eight listings. This report also continues themes we discuss today about the success of preservation Ð commitment to study the history of all Alabamians, need for public-private partnerships, increased funding and better political support.
Members of the Black Heritage Council gather at their quarterly meeting in 2005. The AHC established the Black Heritage Council in 1984 to promote the preservation and awareness of African-American historic places, artifacts and culture.
As funding increased for the agency, historians and archaeologists were hired in the 1970s to handle programs such as the National Register of Historic Places and cultural resources surveys. The preservation tax incentives program of 1976 was added to the National Preservation Act and required architectural expertise on the staff. Fortunately, there were students emerging from historic preservation academic programs to be hired, so a wellrounded professional staff with specialties in history, archaeology, architectural history and planning could be assembled.
ÒPreservationists are the only people in the world who are invariably confirmed in their wisdom after the fact....Ó Ð John Kenneth Galbraith Presentation to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1979 In 1988 the AHC was located in the Rice-Semple-Haardt House on the corner of Monroe Street and Union Street by the state Capitol. Today the building sits on the corner of Court Street and High Street about 15 blocks away from where it stood originally. Preservation has changed directions since 1966 as well. Today we look at the connectivity of our cultural resources and study historic districts, cultural landscapes, scenic byways and heritage areas. We encourage communities to develop trails to document the various and diverse cultural resources telling the special stories of all their people. Appreciating the modern architectural movement and post-World War II development that changed our city landscapes with new development patterns, design concepts and building materials is a vibrant trend in preservation today. Historic preservation is an ever-evolving field, and Alabamians should be proud of the leadership from our own citizens who played a big role in helping our country and state start this interesting journey. Mary Mason Shell is community services/preservation planner and certified local government coordinator with the Alabama Historical Commission.
Opelika joined the Alabama Main Street program in the 1980s when the AHC provided the statewide program management and support. Today almost 40 communities participate in the new Main Street Alabama program provided by a statewide nonprofit and partner with the AHC.
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Graphic symbols by John Morgan and Ray Dugas
By Gina Glaze Clifford and Cathy Gerachis
For nearly 30 years DesignAlabama has sought to communicate to all citizens of Alabama how important design is in our everyday lives. From the cars we drive to the homes we return to from work, every aspect of our lives is affected by design, though we may not always recognize that fact or pause to reflect on what design really is. Design is defined as the purpose, planning or intention that exists behind an action, fact or material object. DesignAlabama has successfully advocated for the design arts Ð architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, interior design, graphic design, industrial design and fashion design Ð and in turn shown the state what good design is and why it is important and how it makes a difference in our everyday lives. DesignAlabama set out to make people more aware of why we are happier in green spaces located among a downtown full of steel and concrete or why we are able to get dinner on the table a little faster because of the design of the new can opener we bought Ð it all makes us happier. Initially, our vehicle to make people aware of design and its happy influence in our lives was through our new publication, DesignAlabama Journal. Without a doubt, since the first issue was printed more than 25 years ago, it has become the premier program of our organization and how most people know us.
As we continue to push forward with our mission of promoting the design arts and their importance in building places and communities, we are evolving. While preparing to print the 25th and final edition of the print journal, we are planning for what comes next using our communication tools to continue advocating for good design that makes us inherently happy. Starting in January 2016 we will come to everyone more frequently with a monthly newsletter, and though our frequency and look may change, we will continue to make sure that citizens recognize and realize how important design is in our everyday lives. As we move forward and reflect on all the printed journal has brought to us over the years, we can take away one thing: how design is good for the soul and makes us happy!
The journal has served the organization and people in and outside of Alabama well, with a subscription list of nearly 3,000 individuals who are located not only in Alabama, but in New York, California and many other states. It has had a larger impact than Philip Morris or Nancy Hartsfield, founding board members of DA and the vision behind the journal, ever could have imagined. It not only changed the way people in Alabama began to think about design, but it began to change how others perceived Alabama design. Most importantly, it made so many people aware that thoughtful design is impactful and necessary.
Cathy Gerachis is chair of the DesignAlabama Inc. Board of Directors and a landscape architect with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood in Montgomery.
Gina Glaze Clifford is executive director of DesignAlabama Inc. and editor of DesignAlabama Journal.
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Company/Organization Support There are 3 opportunities to give to DesignAlabama. You can give specifically to our Mayors Design Summit, Connect-Live-ity*, where there are opportunities to support at a variety of levels, or you can give a general donation to the organization, which will help to fund our DesignAlabama Annual Journal, DesignAlabama Online and general operational expenses.
GENERAL SUPPORT LEVELS
Level 1 – Designer $500 annual sponsorship for three years As a Level 1 sponsor your name and logo will be included on our website, and your name with a link to your company will be included on each of our 12 DesignAlabama Online issues.
MAYORS DESIGN SUMMIT SUPPORT LEVELS For our Mayors Design Summit there are specific areas where you can sponsor. Each sponsor is listed on all printed materials for the summit as a sponsor, is invited to attend the summit reception, is invited to come and observe during the day-and-a-half event and will have an opportunity to talk to the group of mayors and design professionals about your company and your services. Specific sponsorship opportunities include:
General Summit Sponsor $500
Level 2 – Creator $1,000 annual sponsorship for three years As a Level 2 sponsor your name and logo will be included on our website along with a link to your company website, and your company name along with a link to your website will be included on each of our 12 DesignAlabama Online issues. Additionally, you will be listed as a sponsor for each of our other programs such as the Mayors Design Summit.
Level 3 – PlaceMaker $2,000 annual sponsorship for three years As a Level 3 sponsor your name and logo will be included on our website along with a link to your company website and a link along with your company name will be included on each of our 12 DesignAlabama Online issues. Additionally, you will be listed as a sponsor for each of our other programs, such as the Mayors Design Summit, and will have an opportunity at each event to speak about your company and your services.
Breakfast Sponsorship $750 (One Available) Additionally, you will be listed as the sponsor for the breakfast on Thursday morning of the event.
Lunch Sponsorship $1,000 (Two Available) Additionally, you will be listed as the sponsor for the lunch on either Wednesday or Thursday of the event.
Reception Sponsor $5,000 (One Available) Additionally, you will be listed as the primary sponsor for the opening reception of the Mayors Design Summit, and you will be listed as the only sponsor on the reception invitation.
* DesignAlabama also has a sponsorship opportunity for 2016, to support our Connect-Live-ity project. Connect-Live-ity: a framework to connect Alabama towns; a framework to build new opportunity through travel itineraries – connections! Sponsorship opportunities of this statewide program are numerous, and more details can be provided by contacting the organization.
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PUBLIC DESIGN AWARENESS AND EDUCATION DesignAlabama Inc. works to increase awareness and value of the design disciplines that influence our environment. We believe that the quality of life and economic growth of this state are enhanced through attention to and investment in good design. D E S I G N A L A B A M A
M A K E S
D I F F E R E N C E :
R E T R O S P E C T I V E
what they want until you show it to them. Steve Jobs ■ A city that outdistances man’s walking powers is a trap for man. Arnold ford ■ Planning for the accessible city ... focuses on time well spent. Robert Cervero ■ We are not running out of land. We are r
it’s invisible. John D. Berry ■ There are three responses to a piece of design
P.O. Box 241263 Montgomery, AL 36124
but themselves to copy after. Oliver Goldsmith ■ Education is for improvin
00016 Design AL Covers.indd 2
For additional information about DesignAlabama, please call (334) 549-4672.
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