I had the honor a week ago this evening to share some time, the stage, and some thoughts with a group of five talented architecture firms — Abacus Architects, Aspire Architecture and Design, Galbraith Carnahan Architects, Kahler Slater, and Vision Architecture as they culminated two-and-a-half days of exploration, thought and design. The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum served as the perfect venue and Heirloom Kitchen, Noble Roots Brewing Company, and Parallel 44 Winery kept the invited guests well fed and refreshed.
The seeds for this weekend were planted over the course of the summer as we at Rawley Point met with city leaders, business owners, and residents to consider both what Two Rivers is today and what it could possibly become in the future. No one questions history, natural beauty, or potential of the community. Rather, there is uncertainty as to what direction the city should take. This is not uncommon in communities that have a heritage as rich and a list of prior industries as long as Two Rivers.
This was the question presented to the design teams as Tom and Michael Dittmer opened their doors on a beautiful Thursday evening at Still Bend. How does a group of creative architects and designers come into a community where few have familiarity or context breathe new life through new ideas and clear eyes?
The archtiects were able to pull together concepts drawn both from the heritage of Two Rivers as well as their own design philsophies within the short timespan of twenty-two hours. Those of us who have either lived in the area for much or all of their lives as well as those of us that simply appreciate great design marvelled at the care, consideration, and attention to detail that all of the teams provided.
I cannot recall the last time that I was able to produce anything nearing the full master plan for a large parcel within the course of a day. Rather, I have merely dreamed about the myriad ways these properties could be transformed into opportunities to change the community’s future.
We cannot wait to share all of the concepts that were presented and intend to begin that process this week. Each of the concepts will be presented by the City of Two Rivers through its social media and official channels. This is primarily in deference to the community as the pincipal sponsor of the weekend and our first client. We will be happy to share our thoughts on each of the concepts as they are presented and will invite you to join us in the conversation regarding which of these are possible and which might be more aspirational.
You may be able to make out the concept for one of the community’s most prominent properties, which I posted only to emphasize the role that volunteers throughout the community played in making the weekend possible. Several council members Curt Andrews, Mark Bittner, Erin Gonnerman, and Darla LeClair, and community members Heather Ross, Anthony Sachse, and Justin Sprangers all played crucial roles in guiding the design teams around the community and adding local context. Curt Andrews was also called upon to join Paul Tanzer, a retired Architect, and Que El-Amin from Scott Crawford, Inc. as judges for the formal presentations.
City Manager Greg Buckley also went above and beyond in providing insight and access to a multitude of city resources. The City Council chambers at City Hall made for a perfect workspace.
Stephanie Carpenter, Tootsie Summers, and the volunteers of the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum helped make the evening truly magical. The museum is one of the hidden gems of the community and one that all of the architects intend to revisit.
There are several posts from across social media from both the architects and city officials that share their perspectives on the weekend and the community that they were all invited to get to know just a little better. Adam Heindel and Amy Barker, whose firm — Vision Architecture was awarded the jury prize for their concept for Emmanuel Methodist Church sums it up.
We have been asked by a few people this week as to what comes next. Each of the design teams is currently working on a more complete prospectus that will present a finished product. We are also giving consideration to hosting a second design weekend in spring 2019, focusing on the storefronts of Washington Street.
This is another opening to a conversation. We invite you to join us and to Light Up the Lakeshore!