ELYRIA — Lorain County celebrated the best in building design and construction, use of “green” ingenuity, renovation, landscaping and community service during the 2012 Lorain County Beautiful Awards on Thursday night.
Winners were announced from 60 finalists nominated in six categories during a dinner at the Spitzer Conference Center at Lorain County Community College.
Eligible entrants represented beautification efforts undertaken within the past two years. Two winners were selected in each category.
One of the night’s most elated award recipients was Joan Perch, a member of the Follow the Fish Art and Adventure Trail, which won one of two Community Service awards given to volunteer projects that improve a community.
Perch described the distinctive outdoor dancing fish sculpture artistic installation along the Black River Landing in downtown Lorain as a site intended to accomplish a number of goals.
“It’s designed to attract local artists, to give them business opportunities, and to teach students about becoming artists, but most importantly it’s fun,” a clearly excited Perch said following the awards ceremony.
The new public art campaign begun in June will use art as the main draw to bring people together with local merchants, restaurants, parks and other sites, Perch said, via themed Follow the Fish Art and Adventure Trails from May through September 2013.
The fish sculptures were designed by North Ridgeville resident Jim Gundlach.
The other Community Service winner was The People’s Garden at Oberlin Community Services, which is designed to provide the Oberlin area with free, fresh organic produce, and get people familiar with local food production. The garden consists of 18 raised beds filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, and surrounded by benches and picnic tables.
Other winners included:
- Under $750,000: Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream: Located on Detroit Road in Avon, Mitchell’s is a semicircular brick building owned by brothers Pete and Mike Mitchell, and is their seventh and biggest ice cream shop — distinctive for its rotunda.
- Over $750,000: Elyria High School: The city-block-sized $71.6 million school features 67 classrooms, art and music rooms with an acoustic environment technology similar to that found in college and university music conservatories. The 317,000-square-foot complex also sports a 2,016-seat gymnasium and stylish 841-seat Performing Arts Center. Elyria High was also nominated in the Green Building category.
- Green Building: Kahn Hall at Oberlin College and the Oberlin Fire Station: Green features of Kahn Hall include natural ventilation in all of the sleeping rooms, and window sensors that turn off heating and cooling when a window is opened. Students sign a sustainability pledge to not bring cars to campus which eases parking issues for the city while saving green space. The Oberlin Fire Station project incorporated renovation of an existing 7,500-square-foot building with a two-floor, 13,000-square-foot expansion. The building includes a 10.6 kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel system that cuts reliability on city electrical power, and a roof garden that provides insulation. It is the first fire station in northern Ohio to be awarded a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
- Renovation: Cork’s and Stubby’s in Amherst and the Lorain Port Authority Mile Long Pier: Highlighted by an arch made from antique bricks that frame an oval, 10-foot-tall wooden door, Cork’s shares a building with Stubby’s Pub & Grub. Both have outdoor patios. During a renovation, two original pillars were discovered and incorporated into the design. Stubby’s exterior brick and sandstone were restored to their natural state. Built in the 1960s to protect the Lorain Harbor, the refurbished Mile Long Pier attracts fishermen, joggers and walkers. Some $3.36 million in federal stimulus money let the Lorain Port Authority add enhanced lighting, more parking spaces, benches, and revamp the pier’s decking with brick pavers.
- Landscaping: R.W. Beckett Corp. and Miller Nature Preserve and Conservatory: The buildings and grounds at North Ridgeville’s R.W. Beckett Corp. were designed to complement the surrounding neighborhood during a time when manufacturing plants were a less-than-welcomed neighbor. Noted architect Harold C. Beckett designed buildings and landscaping. The 78-acre Miller Nature Preserve and Conservatory is noted for its 5,000-square-foot conservatory that houses collections of plant species from around the world.
Judging for the awards was done by architects William Doty and Douglas Hoffman, and Cynthia Druckenbrod, director of horticulture for the Cleveland Botanical Garden.