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This article was recently published in the City of Salem’s quarterly magazine.
A group of young architects in the area is working in conjunction with Salem. The collaboration is with the Young Architects Forum, a subgroup of the American Institute of Architects, a program that is focused on developing young professionals.
“The program works to get professionals involved in helping our communities,” says J.B. Anderson, Chairman of the Young Architects Forum. “We wanted to go out as a group and get involved on the civic level.”
The architects explored several avenues, looking for a design project to improve an area both with landscape and building. They met with City Manager Kevin Boggess and Assistant City Manager Jay Taliaferro and Roanoke City officials. It was the new 2012 Comprehensive Plan for the City of Salem that caught one member’s eye.
“We all sat around a table in the spring and there was a discussion of what we wanted to do this year,” said young architect and Salem resident James Ruhland. “I brought up the comprehensive plan and things went from there.”
After a meeting in September with the Planning and Engineering Departments, the group decided to focus on the area of West Main Street, just west of the Wildwood Rd. intersection. Salem officials have struggled in recent years to bring in new businesses to extend the boom of Main Street.
“Several of us enter Salem through that area and it really strikes us from a designing perspective,” Anderson said. “There is more that can be done to improve that area. As architects, we get attracted to things like that.”
The project is in initial stages with the architects working on a design plan for the area. The group reconvened again in November. A meeting highlighted by a proposal presentation will take place in early 2013.
“Ultimately, after the presentation at the end of January, we will have a document that will assist the City of Salem in redeveloping the area,” Anderson explained. “It’s possible that eight or nine months down the road that this could be adopted in the comprehensive plan in some capacity.”