By Meghan Bouvet, with project partner Emily Tashjian
In mid-October, School of Interior Studio II students were assigned their final project for the
Semester: converting an old hemp factory located between York Street and Luigart Court in the North
Limestone community. The group visited the neighborhood on multiple occasions to understand the scale and relations of the old factory to its surroundings.
The most important aspect of this project was not to come up with a specific use for the space
from the very beginning, but to start out with a big idea or concept; the practicalities would come later
throughout the design process.
Our main idea was “What creates a sense of place?” We filtered down further from that and considered the concept of “what creates a successful place?” Our research on the neighborhood found that what made the North Limestone occupants feel at home was seeing, hearing and interacting with their neighbors. Community members wanted to update existing infrastructure and desired more green spaces in the area.
A universal problem with the North Limestone neighborhood was the need for healthy and affordable food options. Because most of the people who live in the area are commuting on foot or by the public transit system, they can’t afford to travel outside the neighborhood to find healthy food options nor could they afford the food once they got there. Through the concept of sense of place and our research on the neighborhood, we decided to address the problem of the North Limestone food desert with a fresh food market in the existing space of the factory.
One of the first major design choices we had to make was whether to remove an existing
load-bearing brick wall that stood in the middle of the structure. We, my partner Emily and I, firmly
believed that if we kept construction costs low, the owners could rent space out at a lower price and
therefore, the cost of the fresh food could be kept to a minimum. We decided to keep the wall and save on costs, so we had two defined spaces before we began space planning. One side of the building was a bit larger than the other, so we made the larger side the marketplace. On the smaller side, we created two more spaces: a rentable reception space complete with a bar and storage for tables and chairs, and a demonstration kitchen. You may be thinking that a demonstration kitchen seems a bit random in this space, but because a lot of the residents in the North Limestone neighborhood don’t have access to fresh food, we thought it would be helpful to create a space where they could learn how to prepare delicious meals with the fresh ingredients they purchased next door.
Once we had the spaces planned, Emily and I had to consider things like ADA requirements,
material choices, bathroom placement/layout and getting these elements entered into the computer to communicate our ideas. Emily created the floor plans in Revit, a computer program that allows you to create 2D plans as well as 3D perspectives inside and outside the building. She also rendered the interior perspective and included people for scale purposes. I completed the rendering of the floor plan and exterior elevation. I also Photoshopped specific furnishings into our design to communicate materiality.
After a few weeks of working in the computer, we used InDesign to create a layout for a giant
poster that hung in Pence Hall for our final presentations. The end goal was to communicate with peers
and the developers of this space our ideas via visual elements on the posters.