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Architectural Tech. Students Create Designs for Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum

PCC Architectural Technology students Hannah Roberts, Chris Birdsong, Harold Pierce and Ann Marie Coble, left to right, gained real-world experience during the spring semester while working on a project for the Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

WINTERVILLE—A group of Pitt Community College architectural technology students created designs this spring for a potential tourist attraction in the coastal town of Beaufort.

As part of their “Design Project” course, students Chris Birdsong, Ann Marie Coble, Harold Pierce and Hannah Roberts worked with representatives from the Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum (Maritime Museum Friends) to develop preliminary and conceptual sketches of an amphitheater and life-saving station replica. The structures may one day be built on a 10-acre site along Gallants Channel that was once home to a menhaden fish processing plant.

PCC Architectural Technology Instructor Bill Hofler explained that a new bridge is being constructed near the Gallants Channel site, prompting the Maritime Museum Friends to consider the creation of a sustainable tourist destination. The site, he said, could include a headquarters for the museum group and nature trails adjacent to a potential future museum showcasing artifacts from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Hofler said the students began working on the Gallants Channel project around spring break and visited Beaufort several times during the semester to discuss their progress and receive feedback from Maritime Museum Friends representatives.

“The students were essentially asked to present them with a series of ‘what-ifs,’ so they could discuss their options and develop a vision and direction for the project before bringing in an architect,” he said.

Since Beaufort hosts numerous music festivals and performances, Hofler said the students were asked to develop designs for an amphitheater capable of accommodating between 500-1,500 people. He said the two concepts the group created represented two extremes: a dogtrot design (two rooms flanking an open-ended central hall) and—playing off the North Carolina coast’s ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’ reputation—a capsized ship.

“Both designs have their fair share of supporters, so the students did their job well and gave their client viable options,” Hofler said.

The proposed life-saving station replica would feature replica boats, various artifacts and educational displays that pay tribute to the mid-Atlantic’s maritime history, which was particularly appealing to Pierce.

“My focus in architecture blossomed from my passion of restoring classic and antique cars,” he said. “Bringing back life from a time and era only seen in passing or in books by others has been very important to me and our southern heritage and tradition.”

The students presented their ideas for both the amphitheater and life-saving station on May 8 to an audience that included N.C. Maritime Museum staff, members of the Maritime Museum Friends board, Town of Beaufort representatives, and members of a committee created to oversee development of the Gallants Channel site.

Brent Creelman, director of operations for the Maritime Museum Friends, said he was pleased with the designs presented this month.

“The students worked well with us and listened to our thoughts on what might work on the property,” he said. “The results were an interesting mix of functional and interesting designs.”

Hofler said this is the second year in a row PCC architectural technology students have been asked by the Maritime Museum Friends to design a structure for the Gallants Channel site. Last year, he said, students came up with plans for a multipurpose center.

Creelman says the museum group has enjoyed working with PCC and that the collaboration has been beneficial to both parties.

“The PCC students come to us with a drive to get ideas on paper that represent their take on what could work for a given project,” he said. “This gives us a resource that is hard to find without paying huge sums.”

PCC Architectural Technology students have benefited from the partnership by gaining real-world experience they can build upon in their future architectural careers.

“I am very thankful we were given the opportunity to help bring this awesome project to life,” said Birdsong. “Hopefully, it will be a landmark my family and friends can visit in years to come.”

Creelman said Birdsong’s wish may, in fact, come true.

“Now that the dust has settled and we have digested what was presented by the students, it appears that some of the concepts developed in this spring’s exercise might just work their way into the eventual site plan,” he said.

Creelman said the Maritime Museum Friends are hoping to get conceptual design drawings done this summer, so they can get the N.C. Maritime Museum and other partners on board in order to proceed with fundraising for the project.