By Alyssa Schnugg
The Courthouse Square Preservation Commission gave an unofficial nod to conceptual plans for a renovation project at The Powerhouse that would expand the arts center.
The plans were presented Monday by architects with the Beard and Riser Architects firm to the commission for a complimentary review, where the commission can review the plans and give feedback without taking a formal vote.
The plans were just conceptual and could change over time after cost estimates are completed; however, the architects said it shouldn’t change too drastically with what they have proposed.
The project would focus on turning the current “shed” on the right side of the existing Powerhouse building into a two-story humanities center, with classroom space, artist space, open space and temporary residential space for visiting artists-in-residents.
The new addition would be designed to pay homage to the original Powerhouse without looking like a completely new building.
The new addition would be called the Yoknapatawpha Humanities Center at the Powerhouse.
The plans also need approval from the National Archives and History.
“I like the general flavor of it. I feel you’ve struck the balance between contemporary but also respectful of the historical aspect of it,” said Commission chair Stuart Povall.
Povall said his only concern with the plan is that it appears to be a bit massive for the street.
“But I think it looks nice. I think you’ll figure out the details and make it look even nicer,” Povall said.
Commissioner Lee Benoit said she felt the plans were “powerful.”
“I like the look,” she said. “I have to commend you because that’s such a small lot and you’ve done quite well. We need this in Oxford.”
Once funding is in place and the plans move forward, they will be presented for a Certificate of Approval from the Commission for official approval. The official site plan will also be reviewed by city staff and will need approval from the city before construction can begin.