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A Blank Slate?
“The students see our potential . . . and that’s what we need to get our community energized.”
For Arianna Armelli, a student from New York, focusing on the last category in relation to Portland was important because she believes in the value of creating functional solutions that also preserve historical contexts.
“Portland is a gateway town to the rest of the Slate Belt,” says Armelli. “So I wanted to see how we could restructure it to act as an invitation to visitors unfamiliar with the history of the area while also addressing key ecological issues, like flooding.”
Portland’s business district sits at a low point along the Delaware River. When it rains, the river often swells and floodwater pours directly into the area. After touring the town, meeting with community members and learning about Portland’s unique needs, Armelli proposed the creation of seven piers along the waterfront. Each pier would reflect a key natural resource from the area’s industrial history—slate, coal, steel, textiles, concrete and logging; residents and tourists could walk along them to learn more while enjoying their time outdoors. Simultaneously, the jetty-like structures would be designed to help mitigate the effects of flooding during heavy storms.
Photo: Scott Spitzer via Penn Flickr