Friday, March 01, 2013

Artist’s designs transform community

Conestee Mill: A Revitalization Project Combining Historic Preservation and Interior Design

Kaitlin McShea wants to improve the community of Greenville County, S.C., her hometown, by redesigning the historic Conestee Mill there.

McShea’s interior design project in the “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition” transforms the aging textile mill into a mixed-use development that includes luxury loft apartments, retail spaces, a conference center, a community fitness center, a textile history museum and a South Carolina-themed restaurant.

“My goal is to not only design a beautiful, livable, walk-able space, but also to revive the Conestee community through preservation of the mill, interior design and programming in order to create a sustainable complex that future generations will continue to enjoy,” said McShea. She based her design concept on the textiles once produced at the mill. The interior spaces have elements playing with the textures, forms and physical qualities of fabric and historic textile equipment.

McShea has worked in community design through her fellowship with the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute and Carl Vinson Institute of Government. In her work, she combines historic preservation with modern and sustainable designs.

McShea is combining her two MFA degrees (master of historic preservation and master of fine arts with a focus in interior design) with this project. She began with historical documentation, studying historic floor plans and interviewing people in the community about the mill. Her research also included case studies of two other similar mills in the Southeast.

McShea said she wanted to choose a community that would benefit economically from the redevelopment. She chose the specific businesses in her design based on what the community was currently missing. She created both hand and 3-D computer renderings of the spaces as well as choosing materials, finishes and furniture for each space in the new facility. Last, she created a brand identity for the site with logos and color schemes for each space and combined everything in a visual package for the exhibition.

The final design reflects McShea’s goals of creating a space that is attractive in its living, work and play spaces. Her design also reflects the unique history of textile mills in Greenville and in the Southeast.

The “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition” is on view at the Georgia Museum of Art March 16 to April 22, 2013, with an opening reception in conjunction with 90 Carlton: Spring on March 22. MFA Speaks is scheduled for March 21 at 5:30 p.m. and will feature the artists discussing their work.

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