A hotel, a brewpub and a rock climbing gym are a few of the projects University of Maine at Augusta architecture students envisioned and designed for downtown Gardiner as part of their year-long collaboration with the city.
The eight students will present their projects from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday at City Hall during the Gardiner Artwalk.
The professor for the course, Rosie Curtis, said the designs allow people to see what could be built in areas of their community in ways they might not have envisioned before.
After spending the fall semester investigating different aspects of the city from a planning perspective, the students, some of whom are part of the university’s new five-year bachelor of architecture program, picked eight different sites and designed buildings or or other elements that they thought would help attract and keep people downtown. The theoretical projects also include a combined transportation hub at the old railroad station, an art gallery, a mental health care center, a community food market and recreation center, and a cooperative workplace.
Some of the projects — such as the hotel and transportation center — were based on needs or goals identified by the city, and others were from the students’ personal experiences, Curtis said.
“I think often the work our students do help people understand just what can be done, and it broadens the discussions. Obviously it would be wonderful if a project actually got built,” she said, but it’s not the goal of the project.
Curtis said she hopes the projects stimulate discussion among city officials and community members.
“This was an ideal opportunity for our students to offer some ideas and suggestions in a way nobody else has before,” she said.
Nate Rudy, the director of economic and community development for the city, worked with the students during the project and was one of the professional judges critiquing the students’ theses presentations.
He said some of the projects, although ambitiously designed, are real possibilities for the city. The combined transportation center, for instance, is something Rudy said he would love to see built.
“I think that any one of them, when people from Gardiner see them at the art walk, will sort of change the limits for what they think is possible for Gardiner,” Rudy said.
Seeing visions for Gardiner through the eyes of the students is a valuable perspective, he said.
“When I look at these, what I see are suggestions of what is possible,” Rudy said, “and really it’s up to the community of whether the designs rendered or some modification of that is what they want.”