A design by a team of UCF students caught the eyes of judges at last weekend’s competition to select a proposal for turning an old Orlando motel into an arts village.
Thirty teams made up of more than 150 freshmen and sophomores in the Advanced Design Lab course made their class-project presentations, where they shared their ideas on how to convert the former Davis Park Motel, now owned by Park Lake Presbyterian Church, into Faith Arts Village Orlando. The downtown church wants to turn the 1955 building into a hub for visual, musical and performance arts.
With a bit of brick façade here, a café there, and a trellis above the drive-through entrance, the students of Team CAVO wowed the panel of nine judges made up of artists, church members and the city’s economic development director.
“Their craftsmanship, attention to detail, model-making, research and verbal presentation were impeccable,” said Rod Reedy, professor of the ADLab in the School of Visual Arts & Design. “This shows what these students are able to do in the right learning environment – an accelerated, nontraditional learning environment.”
The design chosen was submitted by Amber Zimmerman, Meghan Grimm, Darline Bencosme, Christine Tu, David Molina and Shanna Stiles. The name Team CAVO stands for Colonial Arts Village of Orlando because the old 59-room motel is at 221 E. Colonial Drive, across the street from the church.
Will Benton, the church organist and executive director of the redevelopment project, said several teams had great ideas, but Team CAVO’s presentation “was sleek, contemporary, had clean lines and just a different concept.”
Benton said the renovation will be done in stages as money becomes available, and next semester the church plans to work with the class to perfect the design details.
“We hope with a great design we will be able to show the City of Orlando how FAVO will impact downtown and the Orlando communities,” Benton said. “Cleaning up this part of Colonial Drive will make a huge difference to the Orlando locals, plus tourists who will be visiting FAVO from all parts of the world.”
Supporters of the project say it also will complement the downtown creative arts village at the site of the former Amway Arena, where the city is working to develop a neighborhood for educational, high-tech, digital-media and other creative organizations.
The small Davis Park Motel once was an overnight stop along busy Colonial Drive, also known as State Road 50. The business started experiencing hard times in the 1990s, and the church purchased the property in 2002. Three years ago the motel management company left, and the building started to fall into disrepair.
The Rev. Helen DeBevoise came up with the idea for the arts village as a mission outreach where the faith community and local artists can work together to share their gifts of inspiration, beauty and spiritual expression.
“There are all kinds of great things that are going to come from this,” Reedy said.