BOLIVAR – On the evening of Monday, November 4, Bolivar community members will receive their first look at Alfred State College (ASC) Architecture students’ vision for a revitalized downtown and vibrant public realm for their community that’s been two months in the making. At the 7 p.m. presentation, scheduled to take place in the Bolivar-Richburg High School gym, students will present the final product of their work for a re-imagined Bolivar community.
Though rich in history, small-town charm and natural beauty, and a unique cultural heritage in the oil industry, ASC students were challenged to transform Bolivar from a community in economic and demographic decline, into an alluring destination by focusing on the use of branding, placemaking, and commerce.
At the end of August, Alfred State students visited the Bolivar community for the first time and had a chance to engage with community stakeholders and partners. Over the following months, students proceeded to investigate and accumulate data on economic, social, environmental, and historic characteristics of the community, then illustrate the appropriate development to create a more socially vibrant, walkable, and connected community. The final product of their investigation and creative re-envisioning will be presented at the November 4 public meeting for the community, where they’ll walk residents through their process, provide high-quality illustrations of their proposed community enhancements, and answer questions from community members.
This Community Visualization Study is a part of a senior-level Architecture Design Studio course, taught by Professor William Dean, which is made possible through funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Over the course of the project, students build real-world leadership skills and are immersed in the local community.
“Working with the community of Bolivar has been an eye-opening experience and taught each of us a little more about the profession we wish to be a part of,” said Caleb Boyce-Wright, a student in this year’s Design Studio Course. “Collaborating with, and designing for, a small rural town has forced us to research, think, and design for a real client – and we hope it has been as rewarding for the community as it has been for our studio.”
Past Community Visualization Studies have taken place in Alfred, Andover, Canaseraga, Cuba, and Wellsville, offering Allegany County municipalities an opportunity to receive assistance in long-range planning efforts that they may otherwise be unable to undertake due to limited resources and part-time government staff.
Preparation to take place in this year’s Community Visualization Study, however, began long before the students made their first visit to the community. Back in February of this year, the Town and Village Boards passed resolutions to create and appoint a special board for the purpose of planning for community revitalization, referred to as the Comprehensive Plan Committee. This group’s task was to develop a Strategic Plan for the Town and Village of Bolivar which provided a framework for growth, development, community engagement, and community beautification. Within five chapters, or action areas, that included “Business Development,” “Historic and Cultural Assets,” “Streetscape Improvements,” “Community Spaces and Recreation,” and “Community Pride,” Bolivar outlined its goals, objectives, and strategies for the growth of its business and tourism economy, preservation of its historic and cultural assets, and future plans for transforming its public spaces. Bolivar’s Strategic Plan was completed and released on August 1; the document has proved to be a critical resource for the Alfred State students as they’ve developed their new vision for the community and will also provide a framework to go after grant funds in the future.
The public is invited to attend the final presentation on Monday, November 4, at 7 p.m. in the Bolivar-Richburg High School gym.