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Designs on the future

POSTED: June 2, 2011 6:51 p.m.
Photo by Pat Donahue/

Springfield City Council member Butch Kieffer, left, talks with Savannah College of Art and Design students about their concept for a future use of Springfield City Hall.

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Seven design teams from the Savannah College of Art and Design left an impression on Springfield City Council members Tuesday night.

The SCAD students, from the school’s interior design and graphic design departments, were charged with looking at potential commercial and retail uses of Springfield City Hall. The students, all juniors, spent the last 10 weeks on the project, coming up with different ways to use the building and branding for the potential businesses, from logos to stationery.

“I think they have done an outstanding job,” said council member Jeff Ambrose. “I am very impressed. There are some great ideas, some very great ideas, with the utilization of the space. This is what Springfield needs.”

Teams tied their ideas into Springfield and Effingham County’s history, with connections to the railroads or to the county’s German roots.

Concepts included turning city hall into Gouverner’s German-American Biergarten, which incorporates a German-Austrian heritage with a family-friendly atmosphere and a dining experience not found in Pooler and Savannah. It included a game pits area for such games as horseshoes or cornhole.

A concept centered around a glass-enclosed brewery called Copper Porch, a combination bar and restaurant, also was presented and another was called the Nancy Hanks Station, inspired the old Brinson Railroad. Copper Porch also includes an outdoor area for live music, and Nancy Hanks Station is designed to be a multi-tenant building and as a casual, friendly space for any time of day for any ages.

ZuHaus and EuroHaus also carried the theme of Effingham County’s European founders. ZuHaus — “at home” in German — also would have its own brewery and its creators see the brewery and restaurant as another revenue stream for the city. ZuHaus also has an outdoor space and a lounge inside and a lounge area outside.

EuroHaus includes dining areas tailored to different countries — Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany. Each country has a town square, and that idea was incorporated into the EuroHaus concept. It also has residential apartments on the second floor above the bar and restaurant. Its designers wanted to give Springfield something Savannah doesn’t have.

Railroad 130 also drew upon Springfield’s history with the Brinson Railroad, with an upstairs arcade for kids and outdoor dining available. It also will include a gift shop.

The seventh concept, Brinson Station, also called for multi-tenant uses, with three or four spaces that could be leased out as a bar and restaurant, a coffee shop and bakery, an ice cream shop and as a farmer’s market.

City Manager Brett Bennett praised Erin Rahn of the Effingham Industrial Development Authority, who is a SCAD alumna, with connecting the city with the school’s interior and graphic design departments.

“We really enjoyed the process,” said Louis Baker of SCAD’s graphic design department. “It was nice working with Brett and Erin, and we hope this project will bear fruit and help Springfield out one day.”

Council member Butch Kieffer also praised the concepts presented to city council, particularly the Nancy Hanks and EuroHaus.

“I like the concepts. I like the European flair because that’s where we came from,” he said. “I like them all, honestly. It’s phenomenal talent here. This is unreal, the imagination and creativity of these people. I envy them.”

Acting upon those concepts as part of Springfield’s downtown revitalization efforts may take a while, according to Kieffer.

“It would be something the next generation after me will handle, because I don’t think we’ll able to do it,” he said. “But I think it’s a good idea.”

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