Here’s the assignment: create a fresh, welcoming and festive look for the warehouse-like Spokane Marketplace on West First Avenue - in the next 24 hours.
Washington State University students - divided into five teams with students from architecture, interior design, construction and landscape architecture - accepted the challenge on Friday and Saturday.
After two days with little sleep but lots of Honey Nut Cheerios, Chinese food and cookies from vending machines, they unveiled five dramatically different plans.
“I’m really amazed,” said architecture student Julie DeCamp, who participated in the competition. “I thought we would have similar ideas. I think it is very encouraging.”
Jackie Rappe, director of the marketplace, was impressed.
“I was blown away by their ideas, graphics and creativity,” she said. “It will be exciting to bring this before the marketplace board.”
The 30 students are from WSU’s Interdisciplinary Design Institute. Some are from the Spokane campus, but many drove from Pullman to take part in the charrette - an architect’s term for deadline.
The students didn’t receive grades or extra credit for taking part. They did it for the experience of working under time constraints and on an actual building.
“It seems more real-world, especially working with other disciplines,” said student John Brown.
It’s also a chance for WSU to work with the community.
The Spokane Marketplace board of directors is seeking grants to improve the old building and make it a central part of the neighborhood.
Spokane Police Officer Rick Albin told students about West First’s bleak background and efforts to clean it up.
“We got rid of the drugs and prostitution and created a vacuum,” said Albin. “Now we want to bring in legitimate activity, with the Marketplace as our anchor tenant.”
Then students were taken on tour of the market. A car dealership since 1907, the building is rectangular and cavernous, with little charm.
Rappe had a few requests: open up the boarded-over skylights. Also, include space for the farmers’ market, a small restaurant or bakery and a place for some entertainment. And please find a solution to the sky-high heating bills.
Back at the design studio, students divided into teams. They began trading ideas and sketching. One of their first discoveries: they speak different jargon.
Even the thin yellow paper they use for drafting ideas has different names. The architect calls it trace, the landscape architect calls it trash, and the interior designer calls it flimsy.
Even with the language problems, the ideas started flying. Several groups decided to close Jefferson Street to traffic. In one plan, the asphalt is scraped away to reveal the old brick underneath, emphasizing the history of the district.
Student Tom Hartzell noticed the perfect view of the Spokane County Courthouse and designed a boulevard and fountain to focus attention toward the castle-like building. Colorful produce carts dot the boulevard.
“This draws me in. I want to go to this place,” said judge Sue Lani Madsen of the Madsen Group.
Another team decided to bring the agricultural Palouse to the big city. They designed a metal and glass silo as a focal point on the building. The glass on the upper half floods the indoor market with sunlight.
Judges admired the creativity, but chided the team about two doors “pasted on the side.”
Another team solved the heating problem with a huge fireplace on one end of the market. They imagined winter visitors to the market carrying lattes and bakery treats to cozy seating near the hearth.
Tammy Soldwisch, an interior designer, opened walls and expanded doorways for a spacious feeling. She drew a mezzanine level for quiet art displays, overlooking the main floor hustle and bustle.
“I like the open walls. If something exciting is happening, I want to see it,” said architect Ron Tan of TanMoore, another judge.
In the end, the silo plan was awarded first prize.
Rappe hopes to display the designs at the marketplace and continue working with the young designers.
“It would be great to have the students involved as we develop a team to pull together this vision,” she said. “They really put their hearts into this.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SPOKANE MARKETPLACE The Spokane Marketplace reopens Saturday with arts, crafts, food and a garage sale. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In May, when fresh produce becomes available, the marketplace will be open Sunday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Personalized floor tiles are being sold to raise money for the marketplace. For more information, call Jackie Rappe at 482-2627