Photo Gallery | Bennington of the future
BENNINGTON — Instead of sulking while passing by an abandoned storefront on Main Street, students at Mount Anthony Union High School (MAUHS) collaborated with Southern Vermont College (SVC) to host a design project called "Bennington of the Future."
The community-oriented project stemmed from Barbara Ackerman's Advanced Design class, in which students analyzed urban planning concepts and how they could apply to the development of Bennington. The project's hopeful approach is to re-engage residents, tourists and businesses with the town as a unique destination.
On Wednesday night, Burlington architect John Anderson, American Institute of Architects (AIA), presented work from his 1976 project, "Burlington Fantasies." The next morning he returned to sit on a panel of creative thinkers from the community including Amy Anselmo of Livin Local and The Left Bank, who acted as a moderator, Bennington College Architecture Professor Donald Sherefkin, SVC President David Rees Evans, MAUHS Principal Glenda Cresto, Bennington Museum Director Robert Wolterstorff, and Harwood Hill Owner Pamela Corkey.
It's really important that you never stop creating things and putting them out there into the public realm and trying to get things done, but not depending on that," Anderson told the student creators. "Maybe someday in the future, everybody will be doing just that."
The forum surrounded the idea of continuing the imaginative thinking and bringing it to downtown Bennington. Thoughts included pop-up galleries, an outdoor arts festival, and a publication collaboration between the two colleges and MAUHS.
"There's a fair amount of empty storefronts down there and are basically in pretty decent condition," Evans said. "One of the things we're pursuing is a way to give people a grant to take those spaces for short periods. If we do get the money, that's the kind of thing that could be interesting."
MAUHS students present at the forum talked about their favorite places in and around town and also what inspired their projects. Krystianna Pietrzak and Rosie West worked together to create "Comic City," or a comic book store, stating it was because they're really nerdy.
"We walked around town and took pictures of buildings. For me, I pretended that it was a place I had never been before and thought of it like it was the first time I went there," Aubrey Bushika said. "It helped me look deeper and see all the quirks Bennington has."
Models included a Book Nook Cafe at 351 Main St. sat next to the quote "I've learned to appreciate Bennington," an ice cream shop called Twister's at 128 North Main St., a Modern Art building with graffiti walls at the entrance and a dance studio at 415 Main St.
"Its really important to never be discouraged about whether or not things that you're doing will ever happen," Anderson explained. "My whole career is full of it. You put out ideas and sometimes you never really know how it will affect the world."
The exhibit is on display in the Burgdorff Gallery inside the Everett Mansion on the SVC campus until March 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday's from 1 to 4 p.m.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.