Architecture students junior Matt Vesonder, sophomore Caterina Saracino and senior Chet Braun designed plans for turning the Onorato building at 177 Exchange St., Geneva, into an arts center.
“We've never had a real-deal project before,” said Vesonder. The students presented their ideas to Professors Rick Hauser and Stanley Matthews and sculptor Ann Reichlin, as well as representatives of three groups involved in planning the building: the City of Geneva, which owns the building; the Geneva Arts Development Council Inc., and local preservation advocates.
Saracino decided that only the outer shell of the building had any real historic value, so she opted to gut the entire inside, which sustained fire damage several years ago. Vesonder decided to replace a section of it with glass.
Braun put in an outdoor café and a garden that would plots that could be rented by the artists-in-residence or community members.
“I really wanted art to be incorporated throughout the whole site,” he said. Other inclusions were a gallery, practice rooms, studio apartments and work spaces.
Mark Wenderlich, the executive director of the Geneva Arts Development Council, said he's excited about the plans, which “inspire ideas about the possibility for renovation” at the site.
“At least it will spark discussion,” said Wenderlich, who has been looking for a place to house his organization.
Hauser said he agreed to work with the three groups because students rarely have the opportunity to create something tangible.
“It was really exciting to have a project that could really have an impact,” Hauser said.
The presentation was featured in the May 3 Finger Lakes Times.