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A town square study of Chrisman’s aesthetic potential printed in the 1970’s
Part of the task of the Town Square Study Group was to examine the square’s aesthetic potential and its potential for fully meeting the shoppers’ and store owners’ needs.
We chose to study the square because it serves as a focal point in the town and is a symbol of Chrisman. When we thought of Chrisman, we thought of the square. So, to us, the square was the logical place to exemplify the town’s pride-in physical form.
Hopefully, as an end product of our studies, the people of Chrisman will be aware of the square’s great potential as a strong visual and functional community center.
To realize the potential of the square, it was our task to develop alternative design ideas for a portion of the square; we chose the North Side. For these ideas to develop effectively, a process of examination must take place to understand the buildings’ underlying qualities.
Step one was to take a closer look at all four sides of the square to discuss qualities which presently may be taken for granted and go unnoticed. Why do this? Chrisman’s town square buildings are blessed with many good examples of creative details and craftsmanship. However, over time, and either through neglect of maintenance or personal additions to buildings, these features have been allowed to become hidden. Most importantly, it’s those original features-details, materials, window spacing, scale, etc- which give each building its own special character.
The analysis may be influenced by our own values, but these same values have their foundation in a given set of guidelines, the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation (it must be remembered that, for any opportunity of funding to become available, these guidelines must be followed).
Therefore, our analysis, based upon those guidelines for the retention or restoration of a building’s architectural features, will include the following basic principles and goals.
Try to retain and maintain the basic proportion and scale of the original design of the facade (face of the building).
Don’t change the size and scale of the openings (doors and windows) in the facade.
Try to retain as much of the original detail and materials as possible. (When changes are made, use modern materials that match or relate to the original in color, size, etc)
Don’t try to make a building to look older than substituting details from an earlier period.
As a second step, we narrowed our analysis down to the north side of the square. This was primarily done due to lack of time left in the semester, and we thought it better to cover one side thoroughly that all sides briefly.
We chose the north side because this is where the most interest was generated on the part of the Chrisman merchants.
Thus, this is the side where new ideas would have the most chance to be implemented.
If the north side were to take some action, hopefully the rest of the square would witness the positive effects and take some steps on their own.
The third step was a more extensive analysis of the north side. In this phase of analysis we were looking at more than just buildings’ physical characteristics. We now wanted to study such questions as; how is the building used?; who uses it?; when it is used?; From this we could then determine its needs so as to fulfill the demands upon it.
For example: Palucci’s is a restaurant that needs advertising to attract customers on a night time basis and thus a need for lighted signage occurs.
At this point, we also looked at what elements gave these facades their character, i.e. strong corners, line, bay entrances, and step up doorways.
The fourth step involved developing design alternatives. This is the final product of our study and we consider this to be the regeneration phase. We are developing the character of the facades, not by changing them, but by utilizing and highlighting the potential that already exists.
To do this, first we studied the facades with the awnings and signs off, those elements hid important details and altered the intended character of the building.
We then developed tow alternatives. One with slight modification, the addition of new paint and reworking of signage and awnings. The other alternatives involves a few more modifications and is seen as a longer range project.
This would include the removal of stucco and the addition of banners. We use the same palette of colors for each alternative. With this one can see that even when keeping a consistent color range within buildings, a variety can exist among buildings.
These alternatives that we developed represent only a small handful of measures that ca be taken. We’re only presenting options, not final statements as to what should be done.
If projects as such are to be undertaken further studies should be done with reference to cost, materials, needs and general feasibility. Hopefully, next semester’s students will partake in these studies.