A design student is helping renovate ACU’s downtown gallery in an attempt to resurrect the building’s past façade.
Carlos Mejia, junior interior design and pre-architecture major from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was hired to help redesign the front of 1131 N. 2nd St. to make it resemble its 1918 appearance.
“Since the client has a very clear idea of what he wants, it should be a pretty straightforward job,” Mejia said. “It might become challenging whenever we start to look into materials and specific decorative details that will be added. The objective is to keep it as close to the original façade as possible.”
The gallery opened Dec. 13, 2007, as the ACU-Cockerell Art Gallery, funded by a $3,000 grant from the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council. It has featured numerous artist exhibits created by ACU students and others around the country throughout the past eight years.
Ronnie Rama, associate professor of art and design, informed Mejia about the opportunity.
“Carlos was suggested because of his design capabilities and reliable work ethic,” Rama said.
Mejia said Ed Cockerell, an Abilene businessman who called for the redesign in the first place, thought it would be fitting to redesign the building in homage to its original appearance in 1918.
Rama said the redesign is a step in the right direction.
“His vision to bring back the façade to its original design fits perfectly with the overall vision of downtown as a historical center for the city,” he said.
A lot of planning and thought is going into the redesign. The materials being used throughout the project are one of the more difficult aspects of the task because materials that are available now are generally more modernized.
“We are going off a picture,” Mejia said. “The owner and I will look at different alternatives regarding materials surrounding the windows; we could go with a different shade of brick or paint around them to add contrast. The original brick, which covers most of the building, is still there, and it will remain.”
Although Mejia is unsure whether he wants to make a career out of building restoration, he said he was interested in the project because he finds any kind of design interesting. He said he is excited for the opportunity to put what he has learned in class to practice.
“Though it is a relatively simple renovation, I hope to learn something from it,” he said.