LEWISTON — The planners, landscape designers and urban thinkers are taking over Lewiston again — for two days at least.

This year, that means a pop-up beer garden, multiple mural projects, workshops and the daylong conference Friday.

The Build Maine conference brings together leaders in urban planning, architecture, engineering, local government and other entities each year to discuss the ways in which cities are designed and improved. It is the fifth year it will be held in Lewiston.

Build Maine Co-chair Vanessa Farr said this week that organizers hope the conference can help solve issues faced by communities ranging from small towns to large cities.

Each year is normally marked by a number of speakers and demonstrations. Last year, it was a temporary traffic pattern on Lincoln Street that created a protected bicycle lane.

And while similar pedestrian-centered projects will take shape on Chestnut Street this week, Farr said the overall theme of this year’s conference is tangible, cost-effective projects that cities can do to revitalize or “activate” downtown spaces, with an emphasis on public art.


Leading up to the conference, national street artist and muralist Arlin Graff is creating a mural on the side of the Centreville parking garage on Pine Street.  The mural is expected to be finished by Friday but it could be just the beginning of public art projects in Lewiston.

Build Maine unofficially gets started Thursday, with a number of workshops at the Lewiston Public Library followed by a pop-up beer garden next to the L/A Arts Downstage building at 5 Canal Street Alley.

The workshops include topics including retail in the internet age, landing impactful public art and creating value in unloved spaces, which all drive home the themes of the week. The workshops are sponsored by the Maine Downtown Center.

Farr said the goal of the conference is to discuss topics that communities are dealing with, and provide inspiration for city leaders, planners and architects to take home to their communities.

That includes small-scale, low-cost projects “that people could take away and be done the day after Build Maine.” A beer garden, for example, can be created in an alley by using wood pallets, temporary lighting and, of course, local beer.

“We hope the ideas are scalable to different communities,” she said.


She added that the projects will hopefully show that streets are more than places that move people, but also places where they can stop and gather.

As the conference takes place, Farr said “intersection treatments” will be installed at several locations, with a particular focus on the corridor that connects Kennedy Park and Simard-Payne Memorial Park.

She said Chestnut Street will get a series of temporary demonstrations, which includes cones and bump-outs that can show various ways to make roads more family- and pedestrian-friendly.

“We see it as a pedestrian corridor,” she said. “This year, we thought what could we do for treatments and public art that could help make that a more welcoming corridor.”

Sheri Hollenbeck, an artist who, along with her husband, is opening The Curio Art & Alehouse on Lisbon Street, is also leading a local art component to the conference.

She said about 10 murals created on paper at The Hive on Lisbon Street will be wheat-pasted onto the side of the alley next to the beer garden. As Graff finishes the mural, she said there will be sidewalk chalk and other activities Thursday for local children to participate.


During the day Friday, speakers are scheduled to include Allison Thurmond Quinlan, an architect who Farr said specializes in small, in-fill cottage housing developments.

Another special guest, Farr said, is Union Studio from Providence, Rhode Island, which recently made waves in the development world with a concept known as the “side hustle house,” which provides a small living space with optional ways to add more space or units.

A full schedule of events can be found at www.build-maine.com, or by clicking here.

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One lane of traffic on Canal Street was transformed into a shared street as part of Build Maine 2016, utilized by pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. (Sun Journal file photo) 

A full schedule of events can be found at www.build-maine.com or by clicking here.

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