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Architects compete, raise money with new trail designs for downtown Lexington

Magda Wala, left, Ian McHone and Josh Duddey of EOP Architects sketched out some ideas for Saturday's design Slam at the West Sixth Brewing Company.
Magda Wala, left, Ian McHone and Josh Duddey of EOP Architects sketched out some ideas for Saturday's design Slam at the West Sixth Brewing Company. Herald-Leader

On Kentucky's 221st birthday as a state, more than 200 people gathered to watch architects and associates imagine a little piece of Lexington's future.

And, in the process, nearly $7,000 was raised for Habitat for Humanity.

It was all a part of the first annual "design slam," a fundraiser put together by the American Institute of Architects East Kentucky Chapter and Fayette Alliance, a land-use advocacy group.

The slam, held at West Sixth Brewing Co., pitted five teams in competition to come up with a downtown trailhead at 137 West Main Street for the bike-and-walking path known as the Legacy Trail. The space, known as the "missing tooth" in that block, is now a parking lot between the planned 21c Museum Hotel and an office building painted light blue.

Each team had one hour to come up with a design — a process that might normally take six months.

Team Jim, composed of Josh Duddey, Ian McHone and Magda Wala — all of EOP Architects — took first place and the prize known as the "Golden T-Square." A T-square is a technical drawing instrument used by draftsmen to draw lines. The square will be like the Stanley Cup, going from winning team to winning team.

Team Jim's design incorporated a bike ramp that went from ground level to the second floor.

"I think people could picture themselves using that," Wala said.

Those who purchased tickets to the event were able to watch each team's design come to life on projection screens. Four teams used a 3D program called SketchUp; the fifth team used a program called Revit. The audience could watch as the ideas evolved on screen.

"This thing is about provoking ideas," said Lexington architect Michael Jacobs.

The designs presented Saturday aren't seriously up for consideration. But some residents said they would like to see the Legacy Trail have a terminus somewhere downtown.

"That would make it easier to jump on the trail," said Ellen Hahn.

The state has committed $2.7 million to complete the Legacy Trail, which runs eight miles, from North Lexington Family YMCA on Loudon Avenue to the Kentucky Horse Park. The next phase will bring the trail to Jefferson and Fourth streets. Construction is expected to start during the summer. The last section of the trail will be a bike lane from the YMCA to the trailhead at the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden, at East Third Street and Winchester Road. When completed, the Legacy Trail will be 10 miles.

"I'd like the Legacy Trail to extend all the way downtown," said Todd Warnick. "That would bring us downtown more."

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