September 03, 2008

Students to present proposals for Town Square

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Could a class project be part of a solution? That’s what a group of Southern Illinois University Carbondale third-year architecture students are going to find out when they present their proposals for redesigning Carbondale’s historic Town Square.

The public forum is set for 9-11 a.m., Friday, Sept. 5, at the Longbranch Coffeehouse, located at 100 E. Jackson St.

Christy Poggas, assistant architecture professor, conceived the three-week class project and students created their own redesigns of the town square, including a prototype structure for future “market” vendors to use. She said the idea is to create a sort of “fast architecture,” a portable, reusable, affordable multi-purpose structure for utilization as needed on the square. She said the students aren’t involved in landscape architecture but rather, “their ideas were based upon research of public spaces.”

The portion of the square north of Main Street and west of Washington Street is now a parking lot, but some local businesses and individuals envision something more. Poggas mentioned the class project at a recent Historic Town Square Coalition meeting and got an enthusiastic response. So, she offered to have her students present their proposals where coalition members and the public at large could attend.

Of course, the architecture students are still learning, so Poggas said their ideas for a public urban plaza aren’t in a final useable format. But, she said it’s possible that as efforts continue to revitalize the city’s downtown and create a public place for special events on the square, the concepts of the University students may help.