Workshop re-envisions Toomer’s Corner with arches, elevated intersection

See you at…

Everything is on the table, everything is still very much up in the air. But if the ideas that emerged from a public workshop held on its campus Tuesday do indeed factor significantly into Auburn University’s decision on how best to move at least aesthetically past the poisoning of the Toomer’s Oaks, one thing is almost certain—what you will see at the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue at some undetermined, timetable-less point in the not-too-distant future will not be your father’s Toomer’s Corner.

Arches, an elevated intersection, the demolition of Biggin Hall, and maybe converting the entrance to campus into some sort of amphitheater (but, sadly, no “Transformer type technology”) were just a few of the possibilities that made it to the idea presentation stage (which you can watch a video of) in the first of two identically-structured sessions of the Toomer’s Corner Landscape Enhancements & Concept Development Workshop.  Not including media and those affiliated with the university, approximately 15 AU students, townspeople, and local merchants attended the event. Members of Auburn University’s Office of Campus Planning and Space Management, as well as representatives from Virginia-based landscape architect firm Nelson Byrd Woltz and Atlanta-based jB+a Landscape Architects, were also on hand.

One design possibility for Future Toomer’s Corner? Gateway arches “like they have at Purdue.”

“It’s a great space now, it’s an iconic space for Auburn University,” said Dan King, Auburn University’s Assistant Vice President for Facilities, who facilitated the workshop. “But the thought is that we might be able to make it an even better space and even more iconic space for Auburn University, as well as for the City of Auburn.”

In other words, Attractive Intersection Structure, there might still be a place for you after all.

After a brief PowerPoint presentation, workshop participants were divided into two groups and asked to answer the questions “Why is the corner important to you… to the University… to the City…?” and to list the most important elements and qualities to include in “a newly renovated or reconfigured corner.”

Participants were told to treat the presence of at least one or more large trees (likely to be overcup oaks—but not likely to be planted so close to the street) as a conceptual “baseline” in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee to Determine the Future of Rolling Toomer’s Corner, which Auburn University President Dr. Jay Gogue approved in January. But at least at this stage, nothing else at the corner appears sacred.

“Do the (95-year old) gates stay? Do they get relocated?” John Fish, Community Planning Director for  jB+a Landscape Architects, asked rhetorically while speaking on the history of Toomer’s Corner. “Those kinds of things.”

… or maybe at….

According to a press release, input received during the workshop will be used to “reveal multiple options for enhancements to the areas” that will be presented Wed., Nov. 7 during a Provost Open Forum.

“We’ll eventually come to a recommendation that we can forward to the president of the university and the board of trustees,” King said.

“(As far as) the time frame for all this to happen from an implementation standpoint, your guess is as good as mine. From our standpoint it really doesn’t matter. Our job is just to make sure we have a plan and are ready to go when the time comes.”

Though discussion on the future layout and functionality of Toomer’s Corner has only just begun, The War Eagle Reader today learned that a decision on a temporary, wire system solution for future rollings in the event that the Toomer’s Oaks are removed has already been reached.

 

Related: On the feasibility of a Toomer’s tree transplant.

More on the the Toomer’s Oaks: Toomer’s Corner rollings didn’t start with Punt, Bama, Punt, says History / Did Auburn students celebrate Bear Bryant’s death by rolling Toomer’s Corner?

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