Fairmont, West Virginia - A "Main Streets in 3D" Community

Downtown Fairmont West VirginiaFairmont (35 square blocks, 155 buildings, pop. 19,097) was selected as one of the 2010 Main Streets in 3D project communities. This page will track the community's progress as it models its downtown using Google SketchUp and Earth and shows how this 3D visualization tool can be used for revitalization and presservation.

After attending a SketchUp training at the 2010 National Main Streets Conference, the Main Street Fairmont team was inspired to pick up a copy of SketchUp for Dummies and make their first attempt at 3D modeling. Thoroughly hooked, they are ready to use the technology in community design charrettes and allow architects who are committee volunteers to quickly make building design enhancements that inspire building owners to dramatically improve the appearance of Main Street and help stop the tear-down trend. Two important local landmarks, the YMCA and the Masonic Temple, are in need of saving; and the organization is ready to model the structures inside and out, and to model the surrounding blocks so potential developers and investors can see their potential. The community wants to improve the appearance of the streets and public spaces, hopefully with Preserve America funding for which they have applied, and plans to use their 3D downtown in planning and public meetings to engage townsfolk in the planning process. Main Street Fairmont is ready to show residents what their downtown looks like today, and what it can look like tomorrow as a vibrant district with a smart revitalization effort… or what it might look like if demolition continues to be a threat.

October 2010 Progress Update

Sandra Scaffidi of Fairmont W.Va., reports the October 6th training was great and that her only regret was that she couldn’t keep Jodi Lane, the trainer from Igloo Studios, in Fairmont longer. The training started with basics, which was a review of material the volunteers learned through their seven hours of online tutorial-watching homework, and then picked up with an intensive pace. She points out almost all of the participants did the homework tasks before the on-site training, which made all the difference and kept the group from being stuck on the basics. Sandra says, “even the architects were impressed.”

Fairmont had 16 students who represented a very wide range of community members, and much to Sandra’s delight, many of them were first timers volunteering for the Main Street program. “It’s not our usual cast of characters and I am excited to introduce downtown Fairmont and the Main Street principles to these folks!” she says. Among them were two home schooled students, the assistant city planner, a retired nurse, an interior designer, as well as representatives from Main Street programs in nearby Morgantown and Sutton – so two other West Virginia Main Street programs will benefit from this project.

The next steps include tasking volunteers with modeling the exteriors of buildings in November. They will move on to modeling the interior of the YMCA building during the winter. Part of the group’s challenge is being able to incorporate topography into the project as Fairmont is very hilly. The teams are using Google Docs to share information and keep organized.

Fairmont Main Street is enthusiastic about moving forward with its new skills. “The power of this program is so important to downtown revitalization,” says Sandra. “I am so excited to use it to shape our community’s perception of itself presently and in the future.”

Here’s a link to local television coverage from Channel 12’s Dot Com Desk.