Architecture students continue to work on Erie, Pa., waterfront

The university chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students is continuing its work in Erie, Pa., and is meeting with its counterparts on a monthly basis to continue the work.

Jeremy Smith, president of the university’s chapter of AIAS and leader of the Erie design project, said phone conference calls and e-mail updates having been keeping the project on track for the Dec. 16 presentation to the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority.

The calling process has presented a new way of working with clients outside the classroom.

“It presents a unique facet to the student/architect/client relationship which relies heavily on design clarity for all parties involved,” Smith said.

AIAS is working with the University of Buffalo and the port authority to create changes for the Erie waterfront. Some of the designs include storage areas, more conventional parking lots and an ice skating rink.

The Port Authority, the official group from Erie in charge of the waterfront, said they are most excited about the pedestrian bridge.

Smith agreed that the bridge is something to look forward to.

“The complete accessibility of the pedestrian bridge, which is a continuous ramping structure that accommodates observation platforms of rest at strategic points along the passage, provides miraculous views of the bay area,” he said.

The weekly conference calls are also an attempt to solve any problems with the designs. So far, the only concerns discussed were the constraints of building on Presque Isle Bay, an island near Erie, and the addition of an access road to connect the site to another marina in the west.

“Both circumstances were quickly resolved through the clarification of the design scheme,” Smith said. “And the Port Authority responded to our work with enthusiasm.”

Their clients also expressed enthusiasm for the team’s ability to address the parameters and conditions of the site in a thought-provoking manner, Smith said.

The next checkpoint is during Thanksgiving break, and the progress with the client will be discussed. The group will begin working with the grant coordinator to outline potential opportunities they would like the team to begin developing, which include structure, materiality and the relationship of the designs to the water’s edge, Smith said.

– Jackie Mantey