“Finding a way to reuse historic structures can be a challenge. We don’t live, work & play the way we used to, so it takes some creativity sometimes to figure out how best to utilize these historic spaces.”
Creative Industry: Design
1. It’s an exciting time for architecture in Birmingham with many old buildings being renovated; How does one approach a historical renovation?
Very carefully. It’s important to preserve & restore the historic structures we have left. I think Birmingham has had to learn that lesson the hard way, and we may still be learning it. Finding a way to reuse historic structures can be a challenge. We don’t live, work & play the way we used to, so it takes some creativity sometimes to figure out how best to utilize these historic spaces. The Lyric did this quite well, successfully balancing the old & new.
2. What impact have you seen in Birmingham because of the historical renovation tax credit?
Downtown would still have vacant abandoned buildings if we did not have the HR tax credit. Florentine, Pizitz, Thomas Jefferson Hotel, Empire, Redmont Hotel, Lyric Theater, just to name a few. Now there are projects that will not happen or be put on hold because Dale Marsh decided it was NOT in the best interest to extend the tax credit. The HR tax credit put money into the economy, created jobs and revitalized areas of town that were dead. These large projects also are the anchors for downtowns and encourage the small businesses to open around them. Hopefully this will get corrected in the next session. It would be a shame to see the huge amount of progress this has created grind to a halt.
3. How do you think we as a city can better integrate design into education?
Funding the Arts in schools is imperative. Whether it’s art classes or even music, kids need a creative outlet. Money always seems to be in short supply & sadly Art & Music seem to be the first things to go. ACFA’s dreamArchitecture program is a great way that local Architect’s have gotten art/design back into the classroom. More partnerships with private groups may be the best solution at the moment.
4. How have you seen Design Week impact Birmingham?
It’s been exciting to see DWB evolve. It’s still a little early I think to judge how DWB has impacted Birmingham. The original intent was to showcase local & regional designers, and generally celebrate the different design professions. It’s not just for designers, but really anyone interested in design, or learning more about design. People interact with design all day. From their toothbrush, to the house they live in, or the office they work in. I think it get’s lost sometimes, but design is for everyone & should be accessible to everyone. Hopefully DWB’s impact will be to make design more accessible to Birmingham as a whole.
5. Who are some other local/national designers that inspire you?
There’s so many great local designer’s & artists, its’s hard to choose.
Merrilee Challiss work continues to get more & more amazing. I love her attention to detail & vibrant use of color. It’s so different from what I do, I think that’s what fascinates me about her work.
Bruce Lanier, with Standard Creative & MAKEBhm keeps doing great things. I’m looking forward to seeing how the MAKEBhm space continues to grow Birmingham’s design community. It’s off to a good start & Bruce has attracted some great talent to help him out.