When the April tornadoes rolled across central Alabama, the community of Cordova was nearly wiped off the map.
As rescue and rebuilding began, the Urban Studio was in contact with FEMA to help the community.
Weeks after the destruction occurred, Urban Studio got the green light from FEMA to partner with Cordova in rebuilding efforts.
“What we are going to start with is engaging the community to get their input about the opportunities and needs,” said Cheryl Morgan, director of the Urban Studio. “Helping us to develop a master-plan update.”
The key is to look toward the future and develop a strategy of how and where the new buildings will be placed.
According to Morgan, Cordova was originally built around a railroad and textile mill for its industry, but no longer relies on these as a means of industry.
Because of this evolution of the city, buildings may require some relocation as they are rebuilt.
Morgan also emphasized the importance of the community looking toward new means of industry surrounding the new interstate and the portion of the Black Warrior River that runs by the town.
“There is potential for developing some economic opportunity from the river, maybe something the community wants to reconsider,” Morgan said.
The Urban Studio is playing a large role as a facilitator for the people to have a say in what they want for the future.
Students will be involved with the reconstruction efforts.
However, because of the urgency and speed of recovery, the majority of students helping will be on the master’s level.
Students are instrumental to the process because of the energy and skills they contribute to the project.
“When we investigate the work with students we are exploring the possibilities to help a community or client understand what their range of possibilities are,” Morgan said. “Students are really good at that exploration.”
As planning and strategizing begins there is always a timeframe to get work accomplished.
“This is the first step in a very long-term process,” Morgan said. “But our immediate work with the master planning we hope will be substantially completed by the end of the year.”
Morgan hopes components of the project will be completed early so the main necessities of the community can get underway with confidence.