DA Journal 2013 Volume XXIII $4.00
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DesignAlabama Volume XXIII
Cover: The formerly forbidding exterior of UABâ€™s Comprehensive Cancer Center in the heart of the medical center has been made transparent with new glass walls on the lower levels and a full-height atrium in the research tower. The dusk photograph by Sherwood Cox captures the new openness.
Board of Directors Cathy C. Gerachis, Chair Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood Montgomery Chip DeShields, Vice Chair of Operations Sherlock, Smith & Adams Montgomery Nancy Mims Hartsfield, Vice Chair of Publications Auburn University - Retired Montgomery Darrell Meyer, Treasurer & Secretary KPS Group - Retired Mountain Brook Elizabeth Brown Alabama Historical Commission - Retired Montgomery Jim Byard ADECA Prattville Janet Driscoll Driscoll Design Montgomery David Fleming REV Birmingham Birmingham Bo Grisham Brookmont Realty Group LLC Birmingham David Hill Auburn University/Hillworks Auburn Jeffrey Pruitt North Alabama Regional Council of Governments Decatur Debbie Quinn Montrose Merrill Stewart Stewart Perry Construction Birmingham Steve Stone Dakinstreet Architects Mobile Robin White Alabama Power Company 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 newsletter or our annual journal 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: email@example.com. www.designalabama.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: Jessica Armstrong Susan Braden Gina Glaze Clifford Samantha Lawrie Philip Morris
Editor: Managing Editor: Art Director: Associate Art Director: Assistant Art Directors:
ÂŠ 2013 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.
11/4/13 2:28 PM
Opening buildings to daylight to energize the space. p.6
Brewing up great graphics to evoke pride of place. p.22
Renewing neighborhood park to make it more user-friendly. p.27
Revitalizing downtown as a vibrant center for work & play. p.28
FEATURES RENOVATING FOR CLARITY & LIGHT Imaginative designs illuminate & organize space
UAB COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTER
DesignAlabama is a publication of DesignAlabama Inc. Reader comments and submission of articles and ideas for future issues are encouraged.
VANCE FEDERAL BUILDING & COURTHOUSE
IMS OPERATIONS CENTER
ARTICLES MESSAGE ON A BOTTLE Beer labels convey distinctly Southern flavor
CRESTWOOD PARK: UNCOMMON COMMONS Refurbished park fosters sense of community
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Opelika: Making Tracks
Partners in Design
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The three buildings presented here are very different types, but as we looked more closely into their recent major renovations, the themes of this survey emerged.
Clarity is represented through the designs in two basic directions: one, opening up formerly closed structures for views in and views out and, two, organizing space so users understand clearly where to go and what takes place there.
Light comes into play mainly in the form of daylight introduced to interiors that formerly lacked it.
The first project, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center , is a profound transformation of a very closed-in building both externally and internally. Here clarity also means creating an image for an important regional health facility amid a complex urban medical campus. For the Vance Federal Building and Courthouse , renovations meant restoration of an historic structure to its Neoclassical post office condition while renovating its major floor to hold three new courtrooms. The original grand lobby now makes it easy to access the courtrooms, and natural light makes them more welcoming. A major change in use from plumbing warehouse/showroom to the IMS Operations Center involved organizing a vast space for rehabilitating surgical instruments and bringing light and views to the people who spend their working days there. The power of imaginative design and the many choices and challenges it represents unfolds in these presentations. If renovation sometimes deserves to be called riveting, itâ€™s true here.
Philip Morris has more than 30 years experience in magazine work including tenures as executive editor and editor-at-large at Southern Living , Coastal Living and Southern Accents. Although he retired in 2000, Morris remains active as a freelance writer and respected lecturer on design, as well as a major contributor to DesignAlabama. 5 Volume XXIII
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New glazed expanses for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center open the lower floors and the new atrium to streets at the heart of the medical center. Transparency became the major design thrust for the architects, Williams Blackstock of Birmingham teamed with Payette of Boston, and it extends throughout interior spaces as well. Limestone used in the wide band that wraps the lobby also was added as a thin cap at the building top and in a line above the new third-floor glass.
UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Photography by Sherwood Cox
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An overall view of the lobby filled with daylight shows the new glass-enclosed, second-level extension of the medical center’s concourse, the major pedestrian system that threads through and between buildings. Light-finished oak paneling (left) extends throughout the renovated spaces. The new ceiling system uses 2 x 8-foot panels with linear tech zones for a cleaner appearance.
[far left] The original Wallace Tumor Institute and subsequent additions embodied the Brutalist period, but in brick rather than the more usual raw concrete. Notice that the third floor had only solid brick exterior walls.
[left] A closer view of the lobby’s two-story glass wall shows the deep band of limestone that wraps the perimeter and serves as a formal sign band for the center. The red brick/limestone/bronze metal combination is a UAB signature.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) , as designated by the National Cancer Institute, has 330 physicians and researchers working on the leading edges of the field and is one of the key contributors to the medical center’s elevated reputation. Its recently renovated building enhances the center’s visibility and the spaces where the work is done – an inside-to-out, top-to-bottom transformation.
Located on a prominent corner at 19th Street and Sixth Avenue South in the heart of the Medical District, the original building, built in three stages starting in 1976, had massive brick columns and spans punctuated by dark inset openings on the lower floors. “We essentially took a can opener to that bland brick box and refitted with a glass-enclosed, two-story lobby,” says Joel Blackstock of Williams Blackstock Architects, who was affiliated with Bostonbased Payette on the $50 million project.
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The striking change brought to the research floors of the tower is visible here with the atrium shown opening up shared spaces oriented to light and views. Break areas at each level look out to the campus, while new glazing turns the stairwell (right) into a visible part of the commons.
“One of the primary goals given to the design team by the center’s director, Dr. Edward Partridge, was to create a presence on campus consistent with the state-of-the-art work being done there,” Blackstock says. “Dr. Partridge asked for a new front door to give the center an identity instead of being buried in buildings across the campus. Now in the evening the building is quite striking with the lobby illuminated and open to the street.” A wide band of Alabama limestone wraps around the new lobby glass and features the name of the center.
Full-height glass gives the break zones views out to the street and adjacent buildings. Built as the Wallace Tumor Institute (WTI), named after former Gov. Lurleen Wallace, the original three-story, steel-frame building designed by Perkins & Will (1975) had some structural virtues: an efficient 30 x 30-foot column grid and a floor-to-floor height just over 15 feet. This provided great flexibility in renovations. Given the complexity of the CCC (with 21 office and research locations across the UAB campus when the project began), the design team produced a master plan study placing the WTI renovations within a larger context.
Also visible late evening and into the night is the vertical space created by a new atrium that was carved out to create common spaces at each level. A large skylight brings in generous daylight that reaches into the core of the space around which offices, collaborative spaces, break areas and other shared facilities are organized. “The Two parallel location trends had evolved over recent decades. Multiexisting floors were mazes of corridors, but now the offices are clus- disciplinary programs in cancer research grew into new buildings tered around a naturally lighted atrium with lounge and conference such as the Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building rooms, so there is a sense of a larger community,” says Blackstock. and the Kaul Human Genetics Building, which are located on blocks
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This east-west section drawing shows the atrium that extends up through the research tower to a large slope-roofed skylight.
This information center/library off the new second-floor extension of the UAB pedestrian concourse creates visibility for the CCC among the host of patients and staff using the ‘internal street’ linking medical facilities.
Glass walls wrap a shared conference room and nearby offices, continuing the transparency theme. Offices overlooking the atrium have oak panels alternating with glass door/transom units. White terrazzo floors reflect light and also are very durable.
to the south. At the same time hospital programs expanded in blocks surrounding WTI including the new 11-story North Pavilion. The study notes: “The recently completed North Pavilion provided a new front door for the hospital off of Sixth Avenue, and a new entry for the Radiation Oncology program located in WTI on levels one and basement level. The North Pavilion also provides a major network or crossroads on second-level connections between east and west, and north and south, circumscribing WTI.”
Thus the major functional decisions: connect to patient access and second-level pedestrian concourses via the North Pavilion to the west; consolidate scattered cancer center offices on levels one and two of WTI; and rehabilitate floors three through five as state-ofthe-art research spaces oriented around a new atrium. Transparency became the driving design concept on all levels and in every direction. The most visible is the public opening to the street with the new glass-walled lobby. The most extensive is
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A vertical view of the atrium makes clear how light and views are pulled deep inside. Offices and conference rooms ring the space, while break areas and the transparent stairwell look outside to the most urban part of the UAB campus. â€œInterior materials and finishes make the most of light coming in from windows and the atrium skylight,â€? says Binx Newton, project architect for Williams Blackstock.
the atrium, a secured space not accessible to anyone other than researchers and staff. But the opening with the most impact on how the cancer center relates to UAB staff and patients is the new second-level link to the very busy concourse that threads through the medical campus. Transformation of the research floors (three through six) in the tower was facilitated by the 30-foot bay system. The central bay became the atrium with daylight coming from a large rooftop skylight. At each level the atrium serves as a commons. The transparency
extends horizontally too, with break areas located near exterior glass walls and the newly glazed staircase. The atrium brings a sense of place to each floor, a new room shared by all, where interaction, coffee, informal computer work and gathering take place. Levels three, four and five have conference rooms with a glass wall looking into the atrium. Dr. Partridge also thought about the importance of seeing research happening from outside, and so continuous glass now wraps the third-floor exterior walls.
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The light, serene interiors aesthetic is evident in the CCC reception lobby on the second floor. The lines of stainless-steel reveals that articulate wood panels into horizontal bands extend across the frosted-glass panels and doors. Terrazzo here includes subtle green and gold sections (university colors).
The existing WTI floor plan (top) had a maze of internal ‘raceway’ corridors leading to isolation. Compare to the new layout (above) with primary circulation consolidated and oriented to the atrium and common spaces.
Laboratories that extend the full length of floors, a first for UAB, were designed to be flexible and generic with a given number of rules to serve “all, not one.” This accommodates changing research work and grants.
The modular, moveable wall system is a relatively new concept for UAB. It includes wood, glass and opaque glass plus sliding doors that save space. At the scale of CCC it costs less than drywall construction and will save more over time.
The internal ‘racetrack’ corridors on each floor were replaced with circulation focused around the open atrium, and there is an increased net usable floor area. Before researchers might not see each other for days at a time. Now everyone travels the same path making interaction inevitable. The new floor layouts also led to more efficient use of space in the 155,500-square-foot facility. At the same time many of the existing exterior and interior components of these floors were maintained or upgraded to keep the construction budget in line.
Design Team Architect of Record: Williams Blackstock Architects Design Architect: Payette Structural Engineer: LBYD Landscape Architect: Nimrod Long
Contractors Brasfield & Gorrie (Floors 3-6, Phase I) Chase Building Group (Floors 1-2, Phase II)
From its new visibility on the street, to its new connection to the campus concourse system, to its transformed research floors, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center now has a physical presence worthy of its work. ■
Taylor & Miree (Basement)
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Designed as Birminghamâ€™s main U.S. Post Office in 1916 by the U.S. Treasury architecture staff, the previously remodeled structure has been comprehensively renovated and restored. The Neoclassical white marble exterior with its colossal Ionic colonnades was cleaned and repointed under direction of the Quinn Evans architecture firm. What was first envisioned as an energy-efficient upgrade turned into a reconfigured interior.
Vance Federal Building and Courthouse Photography by Sherwood Cox
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The large arched window sashes on the main level were replaced with cast-aluminum duplicates fitted with new blast-resistant, energy-efficient glass. A small section of the marble-clad wall along the sidewalk was removed to access a new handicap ramp slipped behind.
with the two main floors and basement completed in 1921. Two upper floors, the top one not visible from the street, were added later. After the post office moved out in the early 1970s, it was remodeled – badly – for district courts and other federal purposes.
In this 1930s photo the original two-story Phase I has received a classical attic-story third floor and a barely visible slate-clad fourth.
Behind its serene white marble Classical Revival facade, the landmark Robert S. Vance Federal Building and
in downtown Birmingham has undergone many changes in layout and use. Happily, a just-completed $43.1 million renovation has brought its grandest interior space back to importance.
“It was a gnarly renovation with a lot of preservation issues,” says John N. Whitaker, AIA, senior project architect with Quinn Evans, a preservation-focused firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and Ann Arbor, Mich. Originally the city’s main U.S. Post Office, the building was designed in 1916 by U.S. Treasury architecture staff
“The big decision was to fully restore the main lobby as the public access to three U.S. Bankruptcy Court courtrooms on that level, each with adjacent waiting rooms, judges’ chambers, conference rooms and other support spaces,” says Whitaker. “The post office teller windows had been pulled out and replaced with aluminum storefront windows in the ’70s. And behind that was a rabbit warren of spaces that made finding courtrooms very difficult. We found historic drawings and were able to recreate the original window patterns in walnut and bronze. The new layout is direct and dignified with each courtroom accessed directly from the linear lobby.” Quinn Evans began talking to the General Services Administration (GSA) in 2004-05 with a conceptual plan, but no funding was available. In 2009 funding became available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It was to be a mechanical and electrical upgrade with an emphasis on energy efficiency, but as the architects got into it, they found that there had to be a more comprehensive approach dealing with security issues and programmatic changes, e.g. creating a facility in the basement for the U.S. Grand Jury, which is relocating from the nearby Hugo Black Federal Courthouse.
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A major improvement over the 1970s courtrooms is the introduction of natural light through skylight monitors inserted above each. Walnut trim has a simplified traditional profile, while walls are fitted with acoustic fabric wall panels. Automatic vertical shades can be activated to darken the courtrooms.
This was one of the courtrooms created in the 1970s with drywall, thin details and no natural light.
Lighter, strongly patterned sweet-gum panels contrast with the walnut paneling in the new courtrooms.
As it evolved, the renovation turned into a ‘starting from scratch’ project to remove accumulated alterations. A number of startling surprises were uncovered in the process, like structural beams at the basement level that stopped short of the columns meant to support them. On the fourth floor the crews discovered more than 50 holes that had been cut through the held-in-compression terracotta tile floor, compromising its stability. In all an additional $1 million had to be allotted for correcting structural problems. The Georgia white marble exterior, which an entry on the GSA website describes as “a transition between the pre-World War I preponderance of Beaux Arts Classicism and the more austere classicism of the 1920s and ’30s,” was cleaned and repointed.
All roofing, including slate and low-slope membrane roofs, were replaced. Existing windows were upgraded to increase solar shading and blast resistance. In addition to the bankruptcy courtrooms and grand jury, the Vance Federal Building (renamed for Robert S. Vance, a federal judge who was assassinated with a mail bomb in 1989) includes offices for Alabama’s two U.S. senators, the U.S. Marshals Service and others. For these the work combined restoration of existing building fabric with needed renovations. Small additions at the rear include secure parking for judges and a prisoner sally port for the new grand jury facility.
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This before view shows the bronze aluminum storefront units that replaced the original post office windows.
The original post office lobby was restored and now serves as the main access to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s three new courtrooms. Waiting areas open directly off the lobby and then into the courtrooms. The pattern and materials of the original teller windows were replicated, as were the light fixtures.
Courtrooms were lost amid a maze of corridors and offices in the 1970s remodeling after the post office vacated the building. Note: Due to security issues, the simplified floor plan with the three new courtrooms and supporting spaces was not available for publication.
But, clearly, Whitaker is most proud of the restored post office gallery and the three new courtrooms just beyond. Federal guidelines required the latter to be located internally, but Quinn Evans devised a way to provide them natural light. “That’s where the post office sorting space had been, and we discovered there had been three linear light monitors above the space, eliminated during the 1970s renovations,” Whitaker says. “We created three new light monitors to bring diffused light into each courtroom. Given the long hours people often spend there, that has been a most welcome change.”
Design Team Owner: General Services Administration Architect: Quinn Evans Architects Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer: HHB Engineers Electrical Engineer: Gunn & Associates PC
Contractors Hoar Construction & The Christman Company joint venture partnership
After all the changes over time, this civic landmark has been given a graceful plan and distinguished purpose. ■
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The east end of the existing single-story showroom structure (bottom right) was expanded upward and outward to create a welcoming front entrance. A large new front wall clad in bright-red metal panels displays the IMS logo with the new glass-walled entrance breaking through for clear visibility.
IMS Operations Center Photography by Liesa Cole
A vast prefabricated metal structure fronted by a smaller building “We were first hired to do a master plan for their developing camerected in the 1960s and ’70s as a plumbing warehouse and show- pus just east of Sloss Furnaces,” says architect Tammy Cohen room has been renovated as the new Operations Center of Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds. “IMS rehabilitates surgical and other instruments for hospitals, and their operations center was for IMS (Integrated Medical Systems). Organizing the interiors for efficient production flow, while opening located nearby in what we now call the 3200 Building. They are a walls for light and views were prime drivers of the design. fast-growing company and were acquiring property with the idea of eventually moving all their people to what’s been renamed the Sloss Business District.”
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An overall front exterior shows the landscaping that contributes to the campus-like setting. The City of Birmingham partnered in the larger Sloss Business Park streetscape that extends along streets.
The roof of the new entry was raised and fitted with glass walls that open to garden views. Exposed-steel roof decking previews what lies beyond. Cement fiber panels in horizontal bands continue the industrial aesthetic, wrapping the meditation room (right) inside and out.
The waiting area beyond the reception desk looks out into a landscaped courtyard (left).
When the former Noland Co. property was acquired, the What the architects brought to the fore were the features that 56,000-square-foot warehouse and 24,000-square-foot showwould make it a desirable place to work and a showcase for room became the largest and most centrally located for IMS. IMS in introducing their process to customers. For the former Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds was selected in a competitive showroom that meant lifting the roof on the east side to accomprocess to do the design. “The big first question was what to modate a reception area. A large panel in the same bright red put in it,” says Cohen. “After considering the size, the location, as the IMS logo creates a strong identity even from a distance. the height of the space and the chance to put everything on one “The landscape and larger sense of campus is important to the level, they decided to put what’s called the IMS OPS – the core client,” says Cohen. “So we opened up the new reception area of their business – in the warehouse with operations-support to a courtyard.” This opening up would continue throughout. people in the former showroom.” Originally a modern glass-wrapped pavilion, the showroom exterior had been covered with a blue plastic material. All that Once that decision was made, it was pretty easy to decide what was removed and the glass brought back. Inside, the supportwould go where: the receiving, cleaning, repairing and shipping office spaces were fitted with modular glass walls. The circulaof instruments back to clients in a timely manner. “They know tion wraps the perimeter, so light and views are shared by all. their business,” Cohen says.
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Modular glass walls in the operations-support office area establish an open character conducive to teamwork.
For the vast former warehouse with its 30-foot loft, a grid was set at 14 feet to keep all systems accessible. The architects created a main circulation spine delineated by an array of fluorescent-tube light fixtures. Here it widens to create a central space for employees and tour groups.
Light and views also came into play on the large structure. “It was just a big metal building, so we punched horizontal openings where we could between the structural elements using a playful pattern,” says Cohen. There was virtually no insulation, so a new R-30 roof topped with a white membrane was installed and existing skylights replaced in the same configuration. All mechanical and electrical systems were to be replaced and the IMS production equipment introduced. “We had a lot of discussion about where to locate all this within the 30-foot-high
space, and we decided to put in a grid system at 14 feet so it would be flexible but accessible,” Cohen says. “That also created the effect of a ceiling without actually building one. All the walls we needed went up to the same point.” To tame the vast interior, the architects introduced a central circulation spine delineated with floating, fluorescent-tube light fixtures arranged in an artful pattern. They also turned the masonry walls that enclose a high-tech parts vertical storage unit into an interior landmark by painting it IMS red.
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One of the work spaces shows the grid that organizes all utilities and walls reaching the same 14-foot height.
The floor plan shows the expanded entry and renovated showroom space (bottom) with IMS operations disposed as the client determined. The central spine links all areas with the wider ‘showcase’ located midway.
One break area serves all employees and includes views out to the IMS campus. A metal canopy with very large fans covers the outside break area.
The all important receiving and shipping functions are housed in new covered structures on the west side including one that allows a shipping service truck to back completely inside. Glass overhead doors bring light and transparency even to these areas. A break room nearby is flooded with natural light also. As the one-year design and construction work on the IMS Op Center wound down, the firm was contracted to renovate the two-story office building across the street that was built in 1952 as the headquarters for U.S. Pipe. It will become the main office for IMS, so a clear visual link between it and the operations center will be paramount. ■
Design Team Architect & Interior Designer: Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds Civil Engineer: Gonzalez Strength Landscape Architect: Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood, Jane Ross Structural Engineer: Structural Design Group Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineer: SSOE
Contractors Rives Construction
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Carter McGuyer Designer Carter McGuyer Design Group Inc. Tuscumbia, Ala. by Jessica Armstrong
Maybe there’s something in the water in northwest Alabama that’s made it such a hotbed of creativity. The Quad Cities, as locals call them – Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia – sit on fertile ground along the mighty Tennessee River. Muscle Shoals long has been known for its recording studios that produced many hit songs. More recently, designers get credit for shining a creative spotlight on the region.
Carter and his wife, Brandi Pennington McGuyer, at their studio in downtown Tuscumbia.
Billy Reid and Natalie Chanin, two clothing designers based in Florence, have gained international fame and have expanded their brand into other outlets. Joining their ranks is Carter McGuyer, 38, founder of Carter McGuyer Design Group Inc., an industrial design firm,
and its sister company, Carter & Co., both based in Tuscumbia. The firm has won top awards for its products including the 2003 Gourmet Gold Award, 2004 Good Design Award, 2009 Housewares Design Award for “Best of the Best” and the 2009 Housewares Design Award for “Best
in Show.” More recently the firm has won the 2010 and 2012 Housewares Design awards, as well as a Red Dot Award in 2013. Additionally, the ever-stylish McGuyer was named to Esquire Magazine’s “Top 25 Best Dressed Real Men.”
Q: Tell me a little about yourself.
Crate & Barrel and Target. We do: • Product design and redesign, including 3-D CAD modeling, sketch & presentation graphics • Materials specification • Manufacturing oversight and consultation • Design and creative review • Trend analysis • Competitive research analysis • Product cost analysis • Market positioning.
Q: What does Carter & Co. provide?
Carter McGuyer: I grew up in Tuscumbia in the Shoals area and studied industrial design at Auburn University. My wife, Brandi Pennington McGuyer, is in charge of business affairs at Carter McGuyer Design Group, which we started in 2006. We live and work in downtown Tuscumbia and have a 10-year-old daughter, Zoie. Q: What was behind your decision to start and keep the firm in northwest Alabama?
McGuyer: Carter & Co. is a beach-inspired line of canvas carriers made in the U.S.A. The entire company was started on the basis of solving a problem for ourselves. We made the first two Captains (their first Carter & Co. product, featured on Good Morning America and in Men’s Fitness magazine) on our kitchen floor. It was an idea I had to make carrying our beach chairs and umbrellas easier. We also addressed several other issues, like organizing a beach bag and creating the definitive toy bag for kids.
McGuyer: There were so many factors that played into keeping the studio in the Shoals. It is such a beautiful and inspiring area with so many creative individuals calling this home. We have tons of family and friends here, and it’s a great place to raise our daughter. People always ask why we aren’t located in a larger metro area. It’s simple. Being here allows us to slow down, think and create. Q: Are you the only designer? McGuyer: No, we have additional industrial designers, and we rotate interns from southeastern design schools. Brandi is also involved in the creative process, and she brings a strong marketing and sales background to the group, which gives us that additional edge. Q: What services does Carter McGuyer Design Group provide? McGuyer: We’re a full-service industrial design firm. That means we can take an idea and turn it into a product ready for retail. We have the privilege of designing for some of the top U.S. brands with products that are sold in stores like Williams-Sonoma,
Smith’s Jiffy-Pro Handheld Sharpener
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Adjustable Manual Knife Sharpener: Smith’s Consumer Products, winner of the Red Dot Design Award 2013
What separates us is our manufacturing expertise, our strength in sales and marketing and our ability to develop beautiful products that are uniquely innovative and available at retail. – Carter McGuyer
We wanted these items to last a lifetime, not for one vacation. It was also important for us to make sure these would be made in the U.S.A. We are constantly working on new items that solve a problem. You can find the entire line on www.cartercooperative.com.
Q: You consult with others on their ideas for products? McGuyer: Yes, we consult with individuals with great ideas and major corporations looking to expand their existing product lines. We keep it simple and basically work in three phases. The first is research and conceptualization. The second takes the selected concept and refines it to a final product. At this phase we prepare the product for prototyping so we can evaluate it. The third step is to finalize the product for tooling and manufacturing. Q: How would you summarize your approach to design?
Microplane Elite Series Graters, honorable mention in the Red Dot Awards 2013
McGuyer: We are in the business of creating real products that sell. My design approach is to always bring that unique something to every idea while still being practical in the design. We always say that we could hand over a pretty picture to our client and say good luck getting it made. It’s easy for designers to come up with beautiful products that cannot be made. What separates us is our manufacturing expertise, our strength in sales and marketing and our ability to develop beautiful products that are uniquely innovative and available at retail. Q: Do you have any areas of specialization? McGuyer: I have been developing products for the housewares industry for 14 years. This remains our favorite area; we love the people and the relationships we have in this industry. However, we also develop products for the hardware, furniture, pet, sporting goods and medical industries.
Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester/Grater
Q: What design work are you especially proud of?
The Captain, a beach-inspired canvas carrier, and the Skipper, a drawstring beach bag
Smith’s Angle Adjust Manual Knife Sharpener and an honorable mention for our Microplane Elite Series Graters. For an industrial designer, this is equivalent to winning a Grammy or an Oscar. Q: In just a few years you have garnered considerable success. Where do you see Carter McGuyer Design Group in the next few years, in terms of products, services and expansion? McGuyer: We have many exciting programs going on now. Several of our clients will be launching full product lines that we developed last fall. Early next year a major retailer, who I can’t disclose at this time, will launch a full line of Carter McGuyerdesigned products. I also see us continuing to grow in the manufacturing liaison area. We have been doing substantially more in this area, as there seem to be many companies needing a quick product development turnaround.
McGuyer: This year we won a Red Dot Design Award (a coveted international product design prize) for our 21 Volume XXIII
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message on a
BOTTLE by Samantha Lawrie photography by Eric Wright
The Back Forty Beer Company (B40) is one of Alabama’s oldest craft breweries and currently the only Alabama brewery that bottles and distributes its own beer. This is no small accomplishment in a state that Jason Wilson, founder and president of B40, says “is widely seen as the wasteland for craft beer in America.” A restrictive legal environment and the need to overcome local preconceptions surrounding craft beer presented challenges above and beyond those necessarily associated with starting a small business. Yet, from the release of their first beer in June of 2009 to the opening of their newly renovated facility in Gadsden in January of 2012, the Back Forty Beer Company has been helping to create a craft beer culture in Alabama with a distinctly Southern flavor. Even a casual glance at craft brew media suggests that craft beer making has a little something to do with storytelling. The Back Forty story is one of travel and adventure, of dreams, of family and of friends and most importantly – of coming home. “We are awesome in the South,” says Brad Wilson, marketing manager at B40. “We are refined and cultured … we have great taste, but we don’t need all the pretension associated with craft beer. We will not tolerate pretension.” The passion to create an approachable, authentic, uniquely Southern craft beer lies at the heart of the Back Forty story as told most eloquently by each and every bottle of B40 beer. The Athens-based design agency MindVolt has been part of the Back Forty story from the beginning, designing packaging for the brewery’s first two offerings – Naked Pig Pale Ale and Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale. The opening of the Gadsden facility and the addition of three new characters to the B40 cast – Kudzu Porter, Freckle Belly IPA and Fence Post Session Ale – provided an opportunity to rethink the B40 brand. Katie Lee, a designer at MindVolt, describes the project, “We had a long discussion with Jason and Tripp [Collins] about the direction of their brand and about how they wanted to play into this ‘revival’ the South is experiencing where craft and heritage are [re]gaining appreciation.” Yet, the layered textures, vintage color and rustic vernacular often associated with this revival are absent from the redesign. The Back Forty packaging now features a crisp type-dominant aesthetic that subtly animates the name of each beer. Elegant engraving-style illustrations evoke depth and warmth. “Design restraint turned out to be quite important to the final product,” says Katie.
Indeed, it is the straight-forward confidence and straight-up functionality of the design that pops a sixpack of Naked Pig Pale Ale off the shelf in the beer aisle or invites you to read your bottle of Kudzu Porter in the dimly lit pub. But in the South it is often these seemingly simple things that offer the richest delight and evoke the bond of shared experiences and pride of place. “We are Southerners!” says Brad Wilson, “We are making this!” At the Back Forty Beer Company it’s a story that gets better with every retelling. ■
Samantha Lawrie is an associate professor of graphic design at Auburn University.
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B40’s dedication to brewing authentic, approachable and distinctly Southern craft beer finds expression even in the names – each of which plays on a Southern phrase
Side panels on the six-pack cartons offer enticing de-
rich in cultural narrative. The double entendre of Truck Stop Honey is a fun example. B40 actually acquires their honey from a Mobile supplier whose primary business
scriptions of the beer and recommended food pairings.
is delivering those ubiquitous honey-bears to Alabama truck stops – that’s one reading. Another reading might tell of certain ladies who frequent those same truck
Clever copywriting reinforces each beer’s Southern
stops for, well … you can fill in the rest yourself.
roots. Kudzu Porter – “Careful. It will grow on you!”
As with the Truck Stop Honey, B40’s Naked Pig conjures an abundance of suggestive imagery and the whimsical yet mischievous pig appeals to a wide range of pig lovers – the ale is a perfect complement to your grandad’s Boston butt and the bottle an unexpected addition to your great-aunt’s pig collection. Packaging is the primary vehicle for branding beer. MindVolt developed a flexible visual language that creates a consistent B40 aesthetic from bottle, to six-pack, to shipping carton.
“We are Southerners! … We are making this!”
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Crestwood Park: AN UNCOMMON COMMONS
Abra ha m
W H E N C R E S T W O O D PA R K R E O P E N E D I N S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 2 after a 10-month and $2.56 million renovation, it joined the growing list of the City of Birmingham’s exciting new and mindfully refurbished public parks. However, the impetus behind revamping this neighborhood park was not to simply beautify the grounds and expand amenities. The popular 12-acre park, which dates to 1946, needed extensive erosion control and a scheme to manage stormwater runoff. Solving the erosion problem was a high priority for the designers – Macknally Land Design (Lea Ann Macknally and Whit Macknally, project prime, master plan and landscaping) and Anderson Nikolich Design Initiative (Marshall Anderson and Kris Nikolich, structures). The designers, who live in Crestwood with their families, collaborated to create a park that is not only environmentally and economically sustainable – but also is a well-integrated, attractively landscaped oasis of emerald green lawns and sports fields, walking paths, a safe new playground and airy, multiuse pavilions. “This park was very personal for us,” explains Lea Ann Macknally.
Macknally Land Design (Lea Ann Macknally, president) was chosen by the City of Birmingham to lead the design team tasked with taming erosion, creating a unified landscape and renovating the much-used equipment and park structures at Crestwood Park. As part of the design team, Anderson Nikolich Design Initiative designed the new pavilions.
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Aerial photos courtesy of Macknally Land Design
Photo by Susan Braden
Before and after aerial views show the transformation of the park into more usable, attractively landscaped and better defined spaces. Notably, debris was cleared from the western part of the park, and the creek gained showcase status. Crestwood Park in Birmingham reopened
Gabion walls replaced thickets of privet that
in 2012 after a renovation that addressed
once clogged the creek bed. A cantilevered deck
erosion issues and outdated buildings. The
overlooks the stabilized creek, providing a
park is a rolling, expansive green oasis that
place for viewing the park and for neighborhood
serves its diverse neighborhood as recreation
musicians to perform. Nearby, lawns provide
area, sports center and community commons.
open space for tossing a frisbee or relaxing.
CRE ST WOOD AND ITS PARK
The diverse, family friendly Birmingham neighbor-
and forms (columns, posts) that would echo the eclectic nature of the houses in their ‘front-porch
hood of Crestwood is located southeast of downtown. Many of the homes were built before and
neighborhood.’ It also was very important to the design team to have the park reflect the vibrant,
just after World War II. Primarily residential, the community is divided into Crestwood North
eclectic ‘mix’ and diversity of people in their neighborhood.
and Crestwood South by Crestwood Boulevard (U.S. Highway 78), which functions almost as a main street, but there is no town center. The park is situated along the north side of the boulevard
ADDRE S SING WATE R I S SUE S
The designers first focused on Crestwood Park’s
between 53rd and 55th streets, and, in the words of neighborhood association leader Darrell
pressing water-management issues. They removed invasive plants and dead trees and, in order to
O’Quinn, the park is “likely the most prominent public amenity in the Crestwood community.”
control stormwater runoff, they used tiers of gabions to redefine and stabilize the park’s creek.
In fact, Crestwood Park plays a vital role as sports center, community events location and
To manage the flooding that plagued the tennis courts and other areas, they employed plants and
social gathering place.
grasses, grading and drainage techniques to move and remove standing water. To ease erosion,
In 2004, residents of Crestwood initiated plans to improve their park; volunteers were requested
rainwater runoff was channeled into the newly reinforced creek, into plant beds and into discretely
for a park committee. The committee included residents, as well as local design professionals
placed surface drains. A rain garden in the center of the western drop-off driveway collects and
Lea Ann and Whit Macknally, Kris Nikolich, Marshall Anderson and Jason Fondren and
treats stormwater runoff from nearby paved areas.
Crestwood neighborhood association leaders Frank McCrory and O’Quinn. The committee sought Macknally Land Design chose native and ornamental
recommendations from their neighbors and discussed what needed to be done to improve the
RE NE WING THE L ANDSCAPE
park. The Birmingham Park and Recreation Board approved Macknally Land Design’s master
plants, trees and grasses to define circulation, enhance the appearance of the park and integrate
plan, and, in 2009, the City of Birmingham named Macknally Land Design to lead the renovation.
the design. Princeton elm trees and billowy ‘Adagio’ miscanthus (a grass with plumes the colors of
All design work was completed in 2010. Although City Councilwoman Valerie Abbot helped secure
the ochre sandstone used in the park) dominate the plant palette and are repeated throughout the
funding, there were delays before the money actually came through in 2011. Macknally Land
park. Redbuds, magnolias, oaks, holly, daylilies, roses, forsythia and other plants were chosen for
Design’s team had everything in place, and the long-desired renovation began in December 2011.
their seasonal color.
Respecting the city’s economic concerns and the community’s wishes, the renovation enhanced
As seen in the master plan the landscape architects opened up the western part of the park with
rather than transformed the nature of Crestwood Park. The park’s basic format remained as new
an inviting multi-purpose open lawn, community garden area and green rolling ‘play hills.’ Next
landscaping unified and enlivened the park and structures received updating. One new pavilion
to these grassy areas an easily accessible seating area is situated near a new cantilevered observa-
was added, and the western part of the park was cleared. Equally important to the renovation
tion deck that extends over the creek. Today the creek, once considered an overgrown ‘eyesore,’
were the master plan’s goals of sustainability and low maintenance. For example, trees, shrubs
is a visual draw – a water element – and a working asset to the park.
and structural materials were chosen for durability and ease of maintenance. In another more personal context, the designers sought to use materials (wood, concrete, local sandstone, steel)
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Photo by Susan Braden
Neighborhood surveys showed that a new playground was Photo by Susan Braden
a high priority. Crestwood Park’s playground offers separate play equipment for younger and older children. In one corner of the playground, a fabric canopy provides a pocket of shade.
In the central part of the park the large playing field received new sod, and the walking track
A third pavilion, the tennis pavilion, was a new addition to the park. Designed with a steel-tube
was retained. Paved paths connect the new western lawns and tennis courts to the eastern parking
frame, stained-wood roof decking and sloping roof with deep overhangs to facilitate draining
lot, main pavilion, playground and swimming pool. One scenic path runs along the higher terrain
rainwater away from the courts, the new pavilion shares the same functional, unfussy aesthetic
of the northern part of the park where native grasses and wildflowers are planted. Nature trails
and mix of materials as the park’s other buildings. The tennis pavilion, like so much of the park,
are planned for this part of the park, which is left unmown and in a natural state.
can be used in more ways than one: to accommodate spectators watching tennis matches or as
For site furnishings and fencing the landscape, architects stayed with neutral tones. The dark
an open-air stage facing the western lawns.
gray composite wood benches and trash containers are low maintenance and made of recycled J.B. Jackson once called the
plastic. Sleek black-steel fences accentuate the shrubs and grasses. The black-steel wire fence at the
USE R -FRIE NDLY NE IGHBORHOOD PARK
swimming pool gives the pool a handsome new look using simple, functional, well-chosen materials.
American city park a “public work of art.” Crestwood Park belongs to the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, but it reflects and suits its neighborhood. The park can be – and is – used by
OPE NING UP THE PAVILION S
A similar aesthetic of mixing industrial and natural
lots of people pursuing a variety of activities including those kinds of actions that foster a sense of
materials can be seen in the architectural structures. The park’s main pavilion, located near the
community. Compared to nearby Avondale Park, also recently renovated, Crestwood’s smaller park
parking lot, received a makeover that recycled some of its original parts and created an inviting
lacks the drama, formality and historic buildings of the older, more traditional city park. Instead,
open structure through which the entire park is visible. Architects Nikolich and Anderson raised
today’s Crestwood Park – in its improved, attractively landscaped and renovated form – remains,
the roof, removed walls and gave the main pavilion a lithe steel-tube frame and new wood roof
at heart, a casual, user-friendly neighborhood park. And it’s a gem. ■
decking capped with a metal roof. The original sandstone fireplace – symbol of hearth and welcome – was retained and made more visible. Nearby, the playground also received much needed attention. Colorful play equipment was installed on a new cushioned rubberized surface. Surrounding the expanded playground a low
Susan Braden is an architectural historian and is retired from teaching art history at Auburn University.
wall capped with the same warm amber and ochre-colored sandstone found in the fireplace provides seating. This local sandstone appears as a decorative motif along some of the walkways
DESIGN TEA M
and is used for all entry columns at the park entrances. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT & PROJECT PRIME
A second pavilion – the press-box pavilion –replaced an earlier press box on the same site next ARCHITECT
to the central playing field. A sloping metal roof directs rainwater away from the press box and
Anderson Nikolich Design Initiative
adjoining stadium. Cast-in-place concrete and sod were used for the stadium’s terraced seating.
Macknally Land Design
Walter Schoel Engineering
To provide shade and shelter an open-air pavilion was erected at one end of the seating area.
MBA Structural Engineers
The ‘tailgate lawn’ (neither grills nor vehicles are allowed in the park) behind the terraced seats GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEER
functions as an outdoor gathering and picnic area where residents often set up tents.
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The open-air tennis pavilion allows unobstructed views of the tennis courts to the east. Four regulation children’s courts and two adult courts attract residents and tennis clinics. For performances and
Photo courtesy of Macknally Land Design
plays the pavilion becomes a stage with steps facing the open lawns to the west.
Anderson Nikolich Design Initiative (ANDI) removed three of the main pavilion’s brick walls, creating a more welcoming structure that is airy and filled with light. ANDI received AlA Birmingham’s 2013 Merit award (institutional) for their attractive, environmentally sensitive pavilions in Crestwood Park.
Photo courtesy of Macknally Land Design
Crestwood Park’s playing field occupies the central section of the park, which has long hosted peewee football. The field, which is recognized as Claud Cotton III Memorial Field after a dedicated local civic volunteer, also easily handles soccer and lacrosse. The two-story press-box pavilion contains a concessions area on the upper level and restrooms below. Stadium seating features concrete, sod and a small roofed pavilion.
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Historic building facades – each one a different style and period – add architectural richness to this block of North Railroad Avenue, where many city-sponsored events take place year round.
Making Tracks O
by Jessica Armstrong Photography by Bruce Dupree
n urban renaissance is happening across America as more and more communities see the value in redeveloping their commercial core. Although the downtowns differ, the goal is basically the same: Create a vibrant place for entertainment, dining, shopping and special events; a place where people can live and conduct business; can easily bike and walk around while enjoying local history and varied architecture.
Signage is an important part of Opelika’s comprehensive plan. Along with the distinctive signs of downtown businesses, the city has erected banners throughout the historic district that feature a logo showcasing its identity as a railroad town.
“Main Street is to America what the piazza is to Italy.” – Architectural historian Richard Longstreth
This is precisely what is happening in Opelika, the seat of Lee County in east central Alabama. Opelika jumped on the urban renaissance bandwagon in the mid-1990s and is gaining momentum in maximizing the potential of its downtown and accelerating the economic development of the city. Historic buildings that once stood vacant and unmaintained are now home to restaurants, shops, art galleries and offices. Streetscape and facade improvements have heightened the downtown’s aesthetic appeal. Vacant upper-floor spaces are turning into lofts and apartments. And a number of events – from live music and art shows to farmers markets and holiday festivities – bring people downtown. Creating a multifunctional, mixed-use downtown requires multiple partnerships. Revitalization began in 1987 when Opelika partnered with Alabama’s Main Street project, allowing Opelika to receive federal matching grants to begin redeveloping the downtown. First was the 1896 Lee County Courthouse (the original 1867 courthouse was designed by African-American builder Horace King) and then the restoration of the 1920 train depot. Chartered in 1854, Opelika became the site of a major rail line for shipping cotton to the North and has retained its identity as a Southern railroad town. The city’s planning, economic development and community development departments along with Main Street and other groups work together to promote business and living in Opelika’s three designated historic districts. Opelika continues to develop the downtown with streetscape improvements, sidewalks connecting the three districts to create a more walkable community and facade grants to renovate exteriors, explains Opelika community development officer Lisa Harrelson. The city’s historic preservation commission provides guidelines that pertain to the exterior of properties, landscaping, new construction and demolition.
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This section of South Eighth Street has undergone a major transformation during the past several years. Today it’s bustling with a variety of businesses – like this cheesecake and candy shop – that delight both locals and visitors.
Originally a grocery store and restaurant, this circa 1887 building was recently renovated to use as office space. The second-floor wrought iron balcony looks original, but was added during the renovation.
Photograph courtesy of Opelika Chamber of Commerce
The commission also provides guidelines for historic color palettes. Architect Mike Hamrick of Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood created a period-based color scheme for historic buildings as part of a comprehensive development plan the Montgomery architecture firm developed for Opelika a few years ago. The city and Envision Opelika, a citizen-driven longtime partner in the downtown revitalization, received an urban design award for the plan from the Alabama chapter of the American Planning Association. (Envision also raised the initial funds for the city-operated Opelika Sportsplex and Aquatics Center, which opened in 2009). The comprehensive plan includes recommendations for downtown facade treatments, a 3-D animation of the proposed improvements and strategies for future management, design enhancements and business recruitment. Hamrick says although it’s difficult to find pure examples of architectural styles in any town, Opelika’s historic structures include Greek Revival, Italianate, Classical Revival, Victorian and other influences. Some of the early masonry buildings have brick patterns that are distinctive to Opelika, he notes. “There’s a lot of historical material in Opelika that has not been destroyed, and we need to build on that. It’s like the family photo album: If we lose the fabric of the town, we’re changing the gene pool.” Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood landscape architect Cathy Gerachis worked on the plan’s streetscape with the goal of creating a vibrant pedestrian environment. Improvements include rehabilitating the brick streets, lighting, additional shade trees and furniture to encourage outdoor dining. Trains run through the downtown, and this is a distinguishing characteristic of the district that should be celebrated, says Gerachis. The plan includes Railroad Park, which takes in this area and is the site of a number of Main Street and city-sponsored events. Public improvements to the south end of Railroad Avenue have been completed. Opelika Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Patton has long been involved with the revitalization of downtown Opelika. She is the former director of Envision Opelika and served two terms as mayor of the city. Patton recalls early revitalization efforts such as removing the concrete awnings that hid the downtown building facades. “This was in the 1990s, the mall era when people wanted to be covered when walking downtown, but they were ugly.” Patton also recalls when Envision acquired a condemned downtown building and gave it away to be renovated. “If Envision hadn’t done something, we would have had a big hole in the downtown.”
There’s no greater hallmark of a vibrant downtown than people enjoying themselves outdoors. As Opelika continues with its revitalization efforts, a priority is to increasingly provide opportunities for outdoor dining.
The building ended up being renovated by John Marsh, an entrepreneur and one of the first private investors in the downtown. Marsh owns 18 buildings in downtown Opelika and operates JMarsh Enterprises Inc. and his other companies in one of his historic buildings near the courthouse. Marsh says one of the most significant changes he’s seen in downtown Opelika is the influx of entrepreneurs and artists.
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Photograph by John Marsh
Downtown Opelika is not only a popular place to work and visit; it’s also becoming a place to live. A number of upper-floors have been turned into livable space such as this loft with exposed brick, soft lighting and gleaming hardwood floors.
“To create this revitalization we have succeeded by having great communication and collaboration among our mayor, city council and private investors,” Marsh says. “This collaboration has given a voice in downtown direction to visionaries who have a strong sense of what they are building, who they are serving and why it’s important.”
Increasing the mixed-used function of buildings is another priority. Harrelson would like to see a small grocery market, pharmacy, theater, gym and other businesses that would help increase mixed-use moves into the downtown district. Harrelson says there also is talk of promoting downtown Opelika as an arts and music district.
Mayor Gary Fuller agrees that a public and private partnership has been vital to Opelika’s success and is a testament to the changes taking place in the heart of the city. “I’m pleased with what we’ve done with taxpayer money,” he says, “but it’s the entrepreneurs who have invested their money that tells me these folks are serious about our future.”
Recently a bill was passed in Alabama to provide state tax credit for both commercial and residential property owners who renovate historic properties using the guidelines set by the National Parks Service. Harrelson says this will encourage developers to rehabilitate older properties. For income-producing properties in Opelika, Harrelson now can issue an historic certificate that can be used to reduce the property tax from a commercial rate to that of a residential property – a savings of about 50 percent.
Other significant downtown private investors are Lisa and Chris Beck, who transformed a circa 1938 Coca-Cola bottling and distribution plant into a thriving event center and a striking example of adaptive reuse. Located on North Railroad Avenue, the 33,000-square-foot Event Center Downtown can be rented for functions accommodating up to 1,500 people and also is used for regularly scheduled public events. Bringing residential living back to the downtown is a significant factor in the revitalization plan. A number of upper-level spaces have been converted into lofts and apartments. Stacie Money lives with her husband, Lonnie, and children (now teenagers) above Fringe, her consignment boutique in the heart of downtown. The family purchased the early 20th century building several years ago and transformed the 5,000-square-foot second floor into livable space. They enjoy urban living, a far cry from their previous home on 7 acres outside of town. Yet Money acknowledges that living above the store isn’t for everyone, nor is such extensive renovation. “It’s a lot of work to convert a big blank space with no walls into residential use,” says Money. “My husband did most of the work, and we got a lot of support from people downtown.” Because the building is historic, the couple received tax incentives and a facade grant. Harrelson says the city is working on a survey to determine the total number of buildings downtown, how many are occupied and vacant and the number of residential units. The city also plans to determine the best use for buildings, turnover rates and other information that will enable them to effectively recruit new businesses. In 2012 Opelika passed an ordinance to designate an entertainment district downtown. Patrons can consume alcoholic beverages outdoors that were purchased at licensed establishments within the district. A sidewalk cafe ordinance to encourage outdoor dining also was passed. Both ordinances have increased downtown activity, Harrelson says.
"A successful downtown revitalization plan calls for retaining the community’s distinctive characteristics and identity. As Opelika’s plan continues to evolve, its identity as a vibrant small railroad town will stay in place." Opelika has been a Main Street town for 25 years, and over the years has spearheaded a number of projects including the renovation of the train depot, removing metal awnings that distracted from the buildings, renovating a parking lot that is now the courthouse square and encouraging continuous streetscaping and landscaping. The many Main Street-sponsored events include On the Tracks, where the streets along the tracks are blocked off, all the shops are open and wine and food tastings are offered. Two popular Christmas events celebrate being a railroad town and Christmas during the Victorian era. Lunchtime concerts are regularly held on the courthouse square, and there is a Halloween costume parade just for dogs. A successful downtown revitalization plan calls for retaining the community’s distinctive characteristics and identity. As Opelika’s plan continues to evolve, its identity as a vibrant small railroad town will stay in place. “A lot of communities were built around the railroad, but many dried up when the railroad went away,” Patton notes. “We would love to have a river, but we don’t and that’s okay. The railroad is our river.” ● Jessica Armstrong is a freelance writer based in Auburn.
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Partners in Design It has been an exciting year for DesignAlabama as our organization has fostered many new partnerships and enhanced many old. We have worked with a number of local and regional design groups to support local design programs and events, which have made clearer the mission of our organization and our success at promoting that mission over the past 25 years. With the birth of new events such as Southern Makers in Montgomery, Design Week Birmingham and the development of Alabama communities like Florence as design hot spots, our organization is keenly aware that the design conversation in our state is growing in volume and relevancy. DesignAlabama is proud to highlight a few of these partnerships and events that are demonstrations of the growth of design and its importance in our state.
Design Week Birmingham
Design Week Birmingham is an exciting new happening for the Birmingham region. The inaugural event, which took place on October 21-28, 2013, was designed to promote communication and collaboration, as well as build lasting relationships throughout the regional design community. Events included films, workshops, speakers, tours, a poster competition, round-table discussion, pop-up shops and printer fair. Based on the premise that exposure to new ideas will raise industry standards, the success of Design Week in conjunction with the opening of the Birmingham Center for Architecture bodes well for design continuing to be on the forefront in the Birmingham region.
Created and curated by architecture and engineering firm Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, award-winning design and communications firm Matter and nonprofit organization E.A.T. South, Southern Makers celebrates the best in creativity and design with artists who live and work in Alabama. The event activities, workshops, conversations and eclectic bazaar explore Southern traditions in architecture, food, fashion and design and how they apply in a modern, sustainable world. DesignAlabama is proud to be a continuing media sponsor and planning partner for this event.
DesignAlabama Mayors Design Summit
Collaborating Artist Program
In partnership with the Alabama State Council on the Arts, Appalachian Regional Commission, ADECA and many others, DesignAlabama has hosted the annual DesignAlabama Mayors Design Summit for the past eight years. Each year the summit brings together five mayors from across Alabama with design professionals from Alabama and beyond to work on design issues facing their communities in an intimate roundtable discussion. The 2013 summit focused on post-tornado recovery and included the mayors of Hackleburg, Rainsville, Fyffe, Cordova and Phil Campbell.
DesignAlabama is excited to be working on integrating design arts and education in an upcoming partnership with the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA). Our organization will partner with ASCA as part of their Collaborating Artist Program, which works to bring artists into Alabama schools to integrate arts into the curriculum. Architecture, planning, engineering, graphic design, fashion design and industrial design are all easily incorporated into core subjects ranging from storytelling, to math, to language arts. Well-known architect and professor Cheryl Morgan will be our artist-in-residence, and we are currently working on finalizing which Alabama schools Cheryl will be working in with students spring 2014. For more information on the Collaborating Artist Program, visit www.arts. state.al.us.
Through these events and programs, DesignAlabama has promoted design education for all because it is our belief that economic development and an enhanced quality of life will follow if the public demands design excellence and aesthetic integrity within communities. âž§ â€“ Gina Glaze Clifford
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DesignAlabama Volume XXIII
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. R E N O V A T I N G
F O R
C L A R I T Y
L I G H T
“Design is about making things “People ignore design that good (and then better) and right (and ignores people.” – Joe Sparano fantastic) for the people who use and encounter them.”
– Matt Beale Berry
“It’s really hard to design “Design creates culture. products by focus groups. Culture shapes values. A lot of times, people Values determine the future.” don’t know what they – Robert L. Peters
P.O. Box 241263 Montgomery, AL 36124
want until you show it
07109 Design AL Back Cover.indd 1
to them.” – Steve Jobs For additional information about DesignAlabama, please call (334) 549-4672.
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