September 26, 2018Architecture Students Re-envision West Virginia Town Center
Students in the School of Architecture are heading to Charleston, West Virginia, this semester as part of an urban design studio. They are partnering with Silling Architects and the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority to study the design challenges and opportunities of the Charleston Town Center Mall.
The group, led by Professor Thomas K. Davis, commenced the partnership in September with a two-day site visit. While in Charleston, students and Davis engaged with representatives of Silling, CURA, city administration and community leaders to learn more about the history of the city, the city’s current masterplan and the existing mall’s condition.
Throughout the semester, students will have the opportunity to re-envision Charleston’s Town Center as their own. Working in groups, they will design a variety of design solutions, including reimagined retail, entertainment, housing and educational, technological, artistic facilities and other possibilities.
“Due to [Charleston’s] urban, economic and social footprint, it may represent the most significant opportunity we have to reclaim, reshape and reposition Charleston as a thriving, livable place,” said Jody S. Driggs, AIA, principal, Silling Architects.
This partnership was inspired by Driggs’ own experience at UT. In spring of 1995, Driggs participated in a similar studio while enrolled in the School of Architecture. This studios’ work sparked the revitalization of downtown Chattanooga, featuring the waterfront recreation and entertainment, housing, parks, streetscapes and transit solutions, including the Tennessee Aquarium.
“We can expect to see diverse, innovative and imaginative solutions from students,” Driggs said. “I believe our mutually beneficial purpose will challenge design students in their intellectual growth and challenge Charlestonians in considering what our town center can be.”
Students will present their final design concepts to city leaders and stakeholders on November 30, 2018.
Our students’ work in Charleston, West Virginia, is catching the interest of media. In early September, more than 20 media outlets ran a story about the students, including this one in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.