O’More College of Design students create workable design improvement ideas for downtown Columbia

Columbia, Tn (February 8, 2018) - O’More College of Design students descended on Columbia recently to meet with Columbia Main Street Executive Director Kristi Martin and a handful of historic downtown business owners to begin a semester-long design project called ‘Design on the Square’ that will culminate with a presentation of design improvement plans and recommendations tentatively set for May 4, 2018.

Nine interior design students, under the direction of O’More Professor Susan Besser, are working closely with some local business owners on this project where they field measure, interview the clients and determine their goals and objectives with the end result being to create workable plans and elevations of the buildings’ interiors and recommendations for the facades as well.  The mission is two-fold: provide design services for small business owners including recommendations for preservation best practices and give the students invaluable experience working with a real project.

“This class has been offered by O’More College of Design for approximately 12 years and is the community outreach program for the interior design department,” stated O’More Professor Susan Besser. “The college is fortunate to have worked with Lexington, Lewisburg, Dickson, Lynchburg, Pulaski as well as many other Main Street towns. We are pleased and honored to partner with Columbia this semester and look forward to the end result.”

Some past successes of ‘Design on the Square’ include a "ghost" building in Lewisburg designed by Evan Millard and Brittany Webb that was constructed a few years ago. A "ghost" building mimics the structural framework of the building providing a venue for outdoor events. This past year O’More worked with Lynchburg and the facade grants were set up to favor those business owners who followed the recommendations of the students. These recommendations follow the Secretary of Interiors Standards & Guidelines for Rehabilitation of Storefronts.

Besser reached out to Columbia Main Street’s Executive Director Kristi Martin about the project at the recommendation of TN Main Street Director Nancy Williams. Martin was thrilled to answer the call, creating a fruitful partnership between O’More and Columbia.  “While offering design students a relevant opportunity to do what professionals in their field actually do, O’More College of Design brings a valued product to Downtown Columbia,” stated Martin.  “This project entitled ‘Design on the Square’ beautifully champions Columbia Main Street’s mission to support the rehabilitation, renovation and adaptive reuse of existing structures.  Aligning students with specific downtown property / business owners for the purpose of design exploration is an overall productive experience.  Furthermore, having the opportunity to foster a relationship with a distinctive learning institution like O’More is noteworthy for the Columbia community.  We are grateful and look forward to collaborating with O’More over the next several months as well as in the years to come.”

Columbia Main Street Corporation is a not for profit organization, founded in 1983 as one of Tennessee’s first five Main Street Communities.  Partnering in downtown development, the organization implements a rejuvenation process that involves four major components: Design, Organization, Promotion, and Economic Development.