By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — After weeks of measuring and planning, Henry Ford Community College students submitted their final construction plans to Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. and other city officials on May 2.
In a presentation in the Andrew A. Mazzara Administration Services and Conference Center at HFCC students and faculty showcased their designs and described to an audience of HFCC faculty, students and administrators the reasons behind them. Several city officials, including O’Reilly, were in attendance at the presentation.
The restoration plans are for a 1919 house that is in severe disrepair and was a candidate for being demolished, O’Reilly said. The house is at 22668 Nona in the Ford Historic Homes District. The students offered the city two options for the house, which they have been working on all semester.
The project began in January with the city offering use of the house to the college. The two programs decided to join forces to work together to create the plans. Twenty-five HFCC students from the Interior Design and Architecture/Contruction worked on the designs.
The programs were led jointly by Instructor of Architecture/Construction Chad Richert and Program Coordinator/Instructor of Interior Design Karen Wilmering. The instructors worked with the students in the classroom and on location at the historic house during the documentation and design period.
“We combined our classes for the first six or seven weeks,” Wilmering said. “We met together as a group and brainstormed ideas. This gave an opportunity for all the students to contribute an idea.”
Richert said students were keeping the facade and exterior of the house the same as the house when originally built but that students did all of the documentation and new design work themselves.
“The students did all of the work from research to documentation,” Richert said. “They worked really well together and really found a much broader understanding of what the real practice of architecture is.”
The initial research into the house showed the students that they faced several construction issues including no first floor bathroom or closet, a small kitchen, inadequate storage space, no garage, and neglected landscaping on the property. All of those issues needed to be addressed to improve the current functionality and future marketability of the house.
HFCC Interior Design student Cameron Elder said the plans address ways to keep the house historically preserved while updating it so that it would be marketable to a modern family.
Both options adhere to opening the house up while maximizing functional space. They also include designs for a first floor powder room and closet. In the second set of designs the house would include a first floor laundry and an expanded first floor bath.
Elder and Richert also said the plans that work to restore the house in a way that is environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
With the plans submitted, O’Reilly said that the city will work with Dearborn Area Board of Realtors to see what the best plans for restoration are. He added that the board has committed to participating in the process by having an appraiser and broker work with the students to identify what the most cost efficient plans are and which will generate the best return on the investment.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)