Fort Hayes Students Design New Purposes for Endangered Buildings
The Columbus Landmarks Foundation is tapping into a new source of ideas for the buildings on its endangered buildings list – students at Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School.
Allison Vrancken, who teaches a STEAM class at the school (STEAM stand for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), worked with two other teachers over the summer to develop a lesson centering around Landmarks’ Ideas Competition, in which they solicit ideas for the adaptive reuse and renovation of neglected historic buildings.
“The STEAM curriculum focuses on innovation and the engineering design process, so I knew right away that this would be a cool project to get my students involved with,” she said, adding that, because Fort Hayes students come from all corners of the city, “a lot of them were able to recognize and connect with different buildings on the endangered list that are in their neighborhoods.”
Doreen Uhas Sauer, Education Outreach Coordinator for Columbus Landmarks, spoke to the class and provided some background on each of the buildings.
Ideas that emerged from the students range from the practical – a daycare center in the Columbus Railway Power and Light Building, a nursing home in the old North Franklin Elementary, a coffee shop/bookstore in the long-vacant building at the corner of Mt Vernon and Taylor avenues – to the more ambitious, like turning the former Ohio National Bank and adjacent buildings into a hotel with a rooftop pool and water slide.
“It is great they are thinking about historic buildings and preservation as an opportunity to express creativity and create art,” said Matt Leasure, a Columbus Landmarks board member. “It’s also great that young people are learning about the connection between the built environment and our culture and history…this is something Columbus will truly benefit from over time.”
“The students loved the project and were very dedicated to their designs,” said Vrancken. “The project also changed their perception, not just about the buildings, but about their city…I think the research and exercises regarding what makes a ‘great public space’ that we did leading up to the design challenge really empowered them to think differently about old buildings and mis-used or mis-represented spaces around the city.”
For more information on Columbus Landmarks, visit their website.