BOLIVAR – On Monday evening, Alfred State College (ASC) Architecture students unveiled the final product of their Community Visualization Study to a full house of over 50 Bolivar residents and community members at a 7 p.m. presentation that took place at the B-RCS High School. As a part of a senior-level Architecture Design Studio Course, made possible through funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, this project allowed ASC students to work with and for a real client – immersing themselves in the historic, economic, social, and environmental characteristics of the community and developing creative solutions to transform Bolivar into an alluring destination. By focusing on principles like branding, placemaking, and commerce, the students re-envisioned the community as a hub of economic and social self-sufficiency and self-reliance – a concept dubbed as the “New American Rural” community.
The students presented their creative work, which included high-quality detailed renderings to illustrate their suggestions, in a way that looked at the village in four sectors or focus areas; these areas included:
- Upper Main Street (which included structures like Café Jacob, the Dollar General, and the historic Bolivar Hotel)
- Lower Main Street (extending from the intersections of Main and Wellsville Streets to Olive Street, including structures like the Pioneer Oil Museum and the Bolivar Shop n’ Save)
- The former Hahn & Schaffner Pipe Company located to the West of Main Street, which the students re-conceptualized as ‘Pioneer Point’ (it is the current location of the second site of the Pioneer Oil Museum)
- The Southern Gateway to the Village, which incorporated community spaces like the Moore Memorial Pool and Shaner Park
In each focus area, students provided innovative design interventions that sought to facilitate increased community connectivity, walkability, and promote community engagement. Thoughtful suggestions related to the timing or phasing of the projects being proposed were also provided by the students and broken into short-term, intermediate, and long-term categories.
The short-term projects included relatively simple additions – like adding trees and vegetation to Main Street, incorporating aesthetically pleasing streetlights and branded banners on Main Street, and commissioning a mural that reflects the community’s identity located on the Boss Street facing side of Tru-Value Hardware.
Other notable intermediate and long-term projects included the transformation of the Pioneer Oil Museum Hahn & Schaffner site into Pioneer Point, a destination that would include a new museum visitor center, mixed retail, and dining; a new amphitheater for live outdoor music, meetings, and lectures at the Moore Memorial Pool; and the development of a self-sustainable craft brewing operation called Bolivar Brewing Company.
Community members were wowed by the dramatic changes proposed by the students and voiced their overwhelming enthusiasm to begin work on making the transformations a reality in the community, leading some community members to ask, “When can we get started?” Others were cautiously optimistic, interested in exploring the practical means to obtain funding for, and accomplish, the short-term projects before setting their sights on the long-term dreams for the community.
Professor of the Design Studio class, Bill Dean, reassured community members that all the work completed by the students over the course of this project is at the disposal of the community. A joint Town and Village Comprehensive Planning Committee, which released Bolivar’s first ever Strategic Plan for the community back in August, will now use public feedback to integrate the ASC students’ ideas into the community plan, which will support future efforts to pursue funding for these projects.
The next stop for the ASC Architecture students is Washington D.C., as they continue on to present their completed project before the end of the semester. In the meantime, the complete electronic presentation of the final product will be made available to the Town and Village for public viewing.