The River Region's Wave of the Future!
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Last Tuesday, leaders from the Elmore County Economic Development Authority (ECEDA) and students from the Auburn University School of Architecture shared with the community and the media several proposals regarding the Alabama Impact Crater and Science Center to be located in Wetumpka.
Also in attendance at the press conference were Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis, Rep. Barry Mask, city councilmen Ken Hammock and Chris Carter, and other members of the city's leadership team.
"To the (Auburn University School of Architecture) students on behalf of the city of Wetumpka and Elmore County, I appreciate it. You've done a great job," said Mask to the crowd. "When you've got so many people from the science community, you know you've got something special."
According to a recent press release, the Elmore County Economic Development Authority recently partnered with the Auburn University School of Architecture to involve second-year architecture students in a competition for creating the design of a center, which would provide a central interpretive facility focusing on the Wetumpka meteor impact crater site."
Auburn student and Prattville resident Ryan Zimmerman's design came in first and was displayed at the media event.
"I became involved during my second year studio in the Architecture Program at Auburn University (I am currently a third year)," said Zimmerman in an interview after the event. "My studio was presented the program/proposal when the city of Wetumpka wanted to show the history and significance of the meteorite impact, which actually was the only ocean impact meteorite that is now on land. Wetumpka wanted us to generate ideas and visions of what a Creator Research and Educational Center could look like."
In responding to the question about what made Zimmerman's design distinct from the others that came in as runner-ups, the student said, "Before I answer this, I will tell you that everyone brought a significant amount of great ideas to the table. As well as, each person had a unique design. But, what makes mine more distinct from the others is the fact the I best answered the program and problem along with executing it as well as I could. This includes taking more things into consideration, a good amount of presentation materials, and a clear idea of indicating my designs function."
Zimmerman agrees with so many in his class that the crater center will be a very important aspect of what Wetumpka has to offer the area.
"Throughout the state there is a new initiative to create and combine a string of research and educational facilities, this including the Mcwain Center (Birmingham), Crater Research Center (Wetumpka), and others in the Mobile area," Zimmerman said. "The crater's plan is important to the Wetumpka and local area in order to broaden the value of this rich and historical area, as well as, bring in more national attention (and) recognition."
The proposed site for the Alabama Impact Crater and Science Center was donated to the city of Wetumpka by the Alabama Department of Transportation and is comprised of approximately 25 acres with approximately 1,500 feet of frontage along U.S. 231, five miles south of Wetumpka.
Dr. David King, professor of geology at Auburn said about the site, "Back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed Alabama, a fairly significant sized meteor struck in what was once part of the Gulf of Mexico and raised these hills, which have stood there for 85 million years. It's been a source of fascination for me and my students for years. It's gained a lot of international recognition. It was named the 157th known impact crater on the earth."
Iain Shriver, another one of the Auburn University School of Architecture students, was given an honorable mention for his proposed crater site plan.
The student said that everyone in his class was given the specifications for the design.
"We were all handed a packet, which became a spring point for the project," said Shriver. "We got the basics from the city of Wetumpka -- what they wanted to be in it. We all started coming up with basic ideas."
Shriver said that although each student created a different proposal, they worked in the same classroom and used each other's inputs as well.
"We were given the whole semester. That allowed us to take it to a greater depth," he said. "I feel like mine is more rectangular with more right angles. The construction of it would be easier to build."
Shriver said that as far as what happens now, he said referring to the city, "The ball's in their court now."
The final decision as to which proposal will actually be chosen and built on the crater site will be made in part by the Impact Crater Commission, which is headed up by Marilee Tankersley.
Willis was just as excited about the results of the competition and the attention Wetumpka is currently getting for its famous impact site.
"This becomes a major tourist attraction for the River Region," the mayor said. "We've got Jasmine Hill. We've got Ft. Toulouse. We've got the beautiful river. We've got the Indian casino, which brings in millions of people a year. This is another part of the tourism."
Willis said that the crater project would also be the first time the city has been able to partner with education.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," he added. "It's far-reaching."
The commission will now look at funding options for the $15 million project, which will include a partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission.
First place in the design competition went to Ryan Zimmerman, Thomas Wales took second place, and third place went to Samantha O'Leary.
Fourth place was given to Samuel Maddox and Yitao Wang received the City/County commendation.
Honorable mention was awarded to the following architecture students: Justin Collier, Andrew Kern, Whitney Johnson, Cloe Schultz, Dylan Moore, Iain Shriver, Dylan Brents and Nicholas Valvo.
© 2013 Elmore County Economic Development Authority. All Rights Reserved.