Design students may return

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lewisburg leaders' and downtown business and property owners' reactions to college students' proposals for redesign of buildings were so positive that one of the instructors anticipates an encore next summer.

"Every year we've gone to a new community," David Koellein, Interior Design Department chairman at the O'More College of Design in Franklin, told Marshall County residents on Friday as they concluded nearly 2-1/2 hours of presentations in the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall.

"But now," Koellein continued, "we've felt if we could return, we could see how the students' designs are being applied."

Discussion among property owners, such as Ken Todd of Too Squared Studios, revealed that "probably 20 percent" of student designs in other communities "were actually used," Koellein said.

"Lewisburg is a great town," the assistant professor said, noting it is also a short drive, perhaps only 45 miles from the O'More campus in Franklin.

Furthermore, there are a number of other buildings here that could become places to study and apply design skills learned by the students, he indicated.

"Stay in contact with our students," Koellein suggested.

That's probably going to happen since it was clear property owners and businessmen were swapping contact information with the students.

During the several presentations, Rick Tillis, proprietor of his jewelry store on West Church Street, exchanged opinions with students Brittany Scott and Evan Millard on what could be done with the building just up hill from the Marshall County Community Theatre.

Tillis reported he's crawled behind the metal frontage of the building to see what's behind there and was pleasantly surprised it is "real ornate brickwork."

Even before the brick might be revealed, Tillis seemed accepting of the proposal to have the faux roof painted another color.

Scott recommended redesigns to "combine the feminine quality of jewelry" with Tillis' specialty, custom work.

A metallic color for the roofing was suggested, perhaps indicating a rich silver space might be appropriate.

Still, the existence of ornate brickwork captured the attention of the audience as practical steps were considered as well as cautionary notes: don't sandblast old brick.

Scott and Millard were also assigned to consider what could be done with the empty lot owned by Bob and Faris Phillips. It's between Parsons Pharmacy and the Bundles Galore Store.

They suggested a "ghost building" that would be a suitable location for outdoor movies, a music venue and other events to draw people to the square.

The Bundles Galore Store is best remembered as a shoe repair shop, but if it was ever transformed into a restaurant, it might be named Ray's Place to honor the cobbler, the students said.

The top floor of such a restaurant might be configured in such a way as to have a door opening to a catwalk planned in the ghost building to add seating outside as well as offer a fire escape, the students said.

Such designs might be seen as extensions of ideas expressed by others in Lewisburg.

"I've always thought it would be good for movies," Mayor Barbara Woods said of the Phillips' empty lot. "But I hadn't thought of seating on steps."

The steps are from the ground level to the catwalk level as proposed by Scott and Millard.

Other buildings examined for renovation in the downtown area include: the law offices of Lewisburg Judge Roger Brandon and former City Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart; the graphics studios of Too Squared on First Avenue; a building at the southwest corner of the public square that's typically referred to as the old Chinese restaurant; and the buildings on the southeast corner of the square where a haberdashery had been. Half the building was being referred to as "the shell" by the students and their instructor Rebecca Andrews, assistant professor of interior design.