“Progress” has not always been kind to North Carolina’s Main Streets, once the heart of our small cities and towns. Decades of migration to outlying neighborhoods, malls and “big box” stores have sadly stripped from many towns across our state the unique identity and sense of community that healthy downtowns provide. So what to do?
Enter Emily-Kate Hannapel, a graduate student in UNCG’s Department of Interior Architecture and part of a team hired as the primary designer for the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center. Led by Interior Architecture Professor and Director of Graduate Study Jo Liemenstall, Hannapel’s team will visit towns across the state to create vibrant, thriving main streets.
This project is right up Hannapel’s creative alley. A recipient of both the Pamela A. and Richard R. Allen Scholarship in Interior Architecture and the Mary G. Elam Endowed Scholarship, her talent for envisioning new spaces will help communities revitalize their traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.
Hannapel’s team of graduate students and upper-level undergraduate students will redesign storefronts, develop retail layout and convert vacant upper stories into residential and office spaces. The team expects to complete annually at least 50 storefront designs and four upper-story designs in designated Main Street and Small Town Main Street communities. The UNCG Department of Interior Architecture’s emphasis on historic preservation sets it apart from other departments in the state, making it an ideal partner for the NC Main Street Program.
“We’ll be getting hands-on design experience that will have a positive impact on towns across the state,” Hannapel said. “It’s really an exciting opportunity.”
Indeed, an opportunity to make a difference, one main street at a time.
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