Imagining new future for historic structure: Interior design students present plans

May 12, 2009

From a soda joint to a brewery, Indiana State University interior design students imagined new uses for a historic Terre Haute building and presented them Thursday (May 7).

“This is our way to give back to the community,” said Juan Jurado, ISU assistant professor of family and consumer science in interior design.

That gift took the form of imagining possible uses for one of Terre Haute’s historic and empty buildings. Students visited and developed plans for the building at 526 Wabash Ave., which is known as the Blumberg Building or the Silverstein Furniture Building and is owned by Mike Ellis of Terre Haute.

It also provided students with real-life experience.

“This is hands-on experience you can’t get in class,” said Michael Walker, a junior interior design major from Terre Haute. “We’re going to be going out in the field in a year. We’re going to be interacting with clients and we need to be able to verbalize our concepts.”

In presenting their projects to the building’s owner, community members and historic landmark officials, Indiana State students did just that in sharing their visions for the building complete with floor plans, perspectives, finishes and other accoutrements to help show their concepts.

Four teams of two students took turns explaining their ideas for the bottom floor and possible layouts for the building’s top floors. The ideas for the retail space include a ‘50s-style diner, an organic delicatessen and brewery, a grocery store, and a wine bar and interactive art galley featuring Indiana wines and artists. The apartment designs varied from simple to luxurious, and several included removing the fourth floor, and also called for a rooftop garden.

“The challenge is to be unique and creative in the space allowed to us,” Walker said in talking about designing apartments for the long, narrow space.

“We wanted to bring the outside in and blend the old and new,” said Emily Rush, a junior interior design major from Huntingburg, in describing her and her teammate’s plans for a wholesale grocery and apartments for the building.

Rush said such projects gave the students opportunities to work with Tommy Kleckner, director of the western office of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, who attended the presentations.

“I think it helps give us an idea of what we’ll be doing when we’re in the work place,” she said. “It helps us develop knowledge of what goes on in the design world.”

This is the second year that Jurado’s class has given back to the community through creating designs to repurpose historic buildings. In 2008, students proposed renovations to buildings at 522 and 524 Wabash Ave, and this week renovations began on the outside, according to Andrew Conner, executive director of Downtown Terre Haute.

“They should be ready for retail occupancy by the time ISU is back in class this fall,” he said.

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Contact: Juan Jurado, Indiana State University, assistant professor, family and consumer science in interior design, at 812-237-3314 or jjurado@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or jsicking@indstate.edu

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/531248653_sMJL4-L.jpg

Cutline: Michael Walker, a junior interior design major from Terre Haute, discusses his team’s design plan for 526 Wabash Ave., which included a ‘50s-style diner. ISU Photo/Kara Berchem