White Springs III
Project Origin and Description
This project culminates long term collaboration between the Town of White Springs and the School of Architecture, at the College of Design, Construction and Planning, in the University of Florida. It initiated as an academic exercise for third year students in 2011 regarding an observatory for the Big Shoals .It evolved towards master planning the interphase between the Town Center and the Stephen Foster Park and making proposals for the Town owned properties in that area.
At that time the students generated innovative programs that would contribute to the social and economic improvement of the citizenship, and generate viable economic opportunities. Among those programs we had developed restaurants, eco-lodges, Folk Art School, Folk art Museum, Music School Convention centers, Tourist Welcome centers. Studios proposed ideas for the Carver School site, a five acres parcel containing an abandoned school building. The studio also explored the possibilities for developing further the Eco Lodge alternatives, included in volume I of this report. In 2014 All these components generated the ideas that later evolved in the current proposal. We foresaw together with the Town stakeholders, the potential for capturing tourism revenues and creating new job opportunities for a well-established but not affluent community. The resulting projects were compiled into a publication funded by the Town and presented in the Rural Summit Conference later that year, and exhibited to multiple rural communities‘ authorities.
The exercise was revisited two years later then in the Fall 2014, when a new generation of third year students proposed renovated outlooks for the Carver five acres site but also developed comprehensive master plan ideas for the Barnett Tract, a 100 acre parcel that the Suwanee River Management District had allocated to the Town for development of an eco-lodge. The Town had obtained a State Development Opportunity Grant and were able to fund further developments towards a more elaborate product for the Barnett Tract. Following the curricular design studio, the Professor and a group of students redefined the parameters of the project, re-elaborating the scope of the program, and proposing a synthetic conceptual view of the ideas towards the implementation on the site of a new proposal.
The Town of White Springs and its surroundings offer attractions for nature tourism development, emanating from the magnificent Suwanee River with its fishing, gorges and rapids, that hosts the Florida Nature Trail, historical buildings , cultural events and extraordinary local cuisine traditional chefs. The proposal for the development of a tourist receptive facility appears to be fully justified.