News

DesignAlabama Partners with Opelika for its first DesignPlace

October 21, 2017

DesignAlabama has started a new program and the City of Opelika is its first participating city. Experts associated with DesignAlabama visit selected communities where they provide assistance with design, planning and community identity.

Design experts demonstrate how to enhance quality of life and community development when the design arts are applied. The program involves intensive meetings where design professionals meet with citizens and city leaders who share their ideas and concerns. Two meetings were held this summer in Opelika and a plan will be designed and implemented based on suggestions from the first meeting.

“We were very excited to work with DesignAlabama,” says Opelika City Planner Matt Mosley. “The City of Opelika was happy to see the early ideas and concepts from the charrette. I’m most interested to see the final concepts, especially in regard to the Pepperell Mill and Village and areas on the edges of downtown.”

On the National Register of Historic Places, the Pepperell Mill and Village is a site containing over 200 properties that were constructed between 1925 and 1940 by the Pepperell Manufacturing Company to provide housing for its Opelika textile mill workers. Downtown Opelika is also on the National Register.

The plan provided by DesignPlace will build on revitalization already in place in Opelika. Through the efforts of Opelika Main Street and other groups, much progress has been made to revitalize the city.

“The value of the DesignPlace program is immeasurable,” says Pam Powers-Smith, president of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, an agency that is partnering with DesignAlabama on the new program.

“It’s almost like a dream to have that many experts visit and work with you on solutions to problems,” she adds. “In no other setting would you have access to those people all at one time. I thoroughly enjoyed their visit and how we worked together to get through the particular projects that we felt were best to tackle. And I can’t wait to see our end product, because then we have a working product in our hand that can be used when ready.”

Alabama communities that participated in the DesignAlabama Mayors Design Summit are eligible to apply. A committee of design professionals who direct the program make the final selections.

Image 1: One of the most important aspects of DesignPlace is community input, here the design team is participating in one of two community gatherings during their time in Opelika.

Images 2 and 3: Design professionals from many design fields spend time working together with each other and community leaders to create the best ideas for the community.

Image 4: A rendering produced during DesignPlace of the possible re-use of the Coors Building in downtown Opelika

Image 5: A rendering produced during DesignPlace of the possible re-use of the historic Pepperell Mill site. 

Article Written By Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of DesignAlabama and Robert Smith (FlipFlopFoto)