UA students present designs for Cordova library, incubator
by Jennifer Cohron
Nov 05, 2012 | 2071 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Instructor Michelle Lee shows Paul Kennedy of the Walker Area Community Foundation plans for Cordova buildings that were designed by UA students. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Instructor Michelle Lee shows Paul Kennedy of the Walker Area Community Foundation plans for Cordova buildings that were designed by UA students. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
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TUSCALOOSA — Sea oats, sconces and clocks were among the items that inspired University of Alabama students this semester while designing a library and business incubator for Cordova.

Seniors enrolled in Advanced Residential Design spent several weeks this fall documenting the former Indian Head Mills office and Higgins TV Sales & Service. They then created a set of measured drawings of the two buildings that city leaders can use when seeking grants for refurbishment.

The second part of the students’ assignment was to develop a variety of visions for a library in the mill office and a business incubator in Higgins TV.

They presented their plans last week to a group of design professionals as well as Cordova Mayor Jack Scott; Lauren Vance, an AmeriCorps VISTA currently assigned to the city; and Paul Kennedy, a member of Cordova’s Long Term Recovery Committee.

Anna Centeno chose sea oats as the concept for her library design.

Centeno said the plants, which are grown on dunes to protect beaches from erosion, are symbolic of the calmness and security that she hoped the library would provide to storm survivors.

“Driving through Cordova when we came up to measure the space brought me back to the devastation I felt that day in Tuscaloosa when the tornado came through. So I decided early on that I wanted a serene area that would also make people feel secure,” she said.

Centeno was one of several students who proposed turning the mill office’s vault into a storm shelter at the new library.

Centeno used a combination of neutral colors and textures native to Alabama to complete her vision.

Kyle Frazier selected bolder colors for her library: orange in the technology area, blue in the conference room and green in the children’s section.

Frazier incorporated several curved elements into her floor plan because her design concept was a clock.

“A clock is moving continuously, just like a city, and it reminded me of preserving the past, staying in the present and striving for the future,” Frazier said.

Kristin Hill decided to use sconces to shed some light on a city that is a shadow of what it once was.

Hill, one of the students tasked with designing a business incubator, drew up plans for a bakery and a retail clothing store.

A native of Duncanville, Hill said she strove to find ways to plan a bright future for Cordova without losing its small town charm.

“I didn’t want to do a huge change because I love the feel of it, being close to the people that you know and love. This is just a gradual move forward by introducing small baby steps to the town,” she said.

Instructor Michelle Lee said while her students appreciate the opportunity to help the people of Cordova, they also frequently struggle with the question of how much change residents would be willing to accept.

She responds to their fears by daring them to be creative.

“I let them know that you’re proud of Cordova and you love it for what it is, but you’re also excited about what it could be. They shouldn’t let what they’re seeing right now determine how they have to design for you,” Lee told city representatives during their visit to the campus on Wednesday.