AIA Columbia’s 2021 People’s Choice Awards & Cayce Revitalization
COR connections have the power to inspire creative new opportunities in the Midlands. Just ask new COR member Adriane McGillis, AIA, whose connection to Cayce Mayor Elise Partin at a Table for Six event harnessed the creative energy of AIA Columbia’s long-standing partnership with Clemson’s School of Architecture in service to the Cayce Revitalization. As a board member of the American Institute of Architects – Columbia (AIA Columbia), Adriane was already thinking about spring programming opportunities when she attended COR’s Table for Six event at the Cayce Riverwalk in fall 2020. Cayce Mayor Elise Partin was Adriane’s Table Host, and the conversation focused on civic engagement. Creative wheels started turning for Adriane: how could AIA Columbia support and contribute to Cayce’s ongoing revitalization? She thought immediately of the chapter’s annual design competition for Clemson University School of Architecture students.
AIA Columbia has an ongoing partnership with Clemson University, home to South Carolina’s only accredited School of Architecture. This partnership brings a contingent of students to Columbia each spring for a prospective project. AIA Columbia hosts a design competition with a series of in-person mixers, tours, and public engagement events for the students to design a prospective building on a site somewhere in Columbia with a local non-profit or agency acting as a prospective client or building occupant. This gives AIA Columbia the opportunity to promote the Midlands as a future workplace/home and introduce local firms to the participating students, while also energizing local practicing architects by providing opportunities to mentor these passionate young professionals. Through the design competition, students get rich and complex real-world experience designing for a real community with real stakeholders.
At the fall 2020 Table for Six event, Mayor Partin described Cayce’s work to revitalize State Street and rezone the district as an Arts District. Adriane wondered: would Mayor Partin be interested in having State Street be the focus of AIA Columbia’s 2021 design challenge? AIA Columbia board members facilitated meetings with Mayor Partin and Clemson professors to discuss possibilities. Their collaborative efforts narrowed down a prospective site along State Street and selected a building type that would work within the City of Cayce’s plans for revitalization. Negotiating the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, Mayor Partin arranged a virtual site tour for Clemson School of Architecture students that took them from the Marietta Quarry and along State Street, and later gave a seminar about the City of Cayce’s planning and history.
More than 80 second-year Architecture students are now challenged to design an Arts Center to be located on the selected site in Cayce. Local architects have provided students reviews and feedback throughout the semester, and a jury will select 12 finalists at the end of April. These 12 finalists will compete in AIA Columbia’s scholarship awards programs and be entered to compete in AIA Columbia’s People’s Choice Awards. Hosted virtually on Instagram this year, the People’s Choice Award invites the community participate in the competition by voting for their favorite designs. Search for @aiacolumbia_peopleschoiceaward on Instagram to see the entrants and vote for your favorite designs. Voting for the People’s Choice Award begins April 24th and closes April 30th; prize money will be awarded to the design team with the most likes on May 3rd. The winning team will be announced at that time.
Connections made at a COR event facilitated this creative opportunity for civic engagement in the Midlands. Adriane’s connection to Mayor Elise Partin at a Table for Six event paved the way for aspiring young designers to inspire local businesspeople and design professionals with their visions for the Midlands. Many thanks to Adriane for demonstrating the power of COR connections!