As students enrolled in the architectural technology program  at Alfred State College wind down their semester in sunny Sorrento, Italy , the end-of-the-year projects still need to be completed.
Combining their burgeoning design skills with the College’s commitment to civic engagement , students began preliminary work on the Marina Piccola project, focusing on enhancing the experience of the port as the gateway to Sorrento through rehabilitation of many of its older existing buildings as well as through the creation of several new features which include piazzas, cafes, restaurants, a small beach area, observation towers, new walkways connecting the port to Piazza Tasso, a music venue, and a feature building which will house a sort of "taste of Sorrento" shopping experience. The new port designs also incorporate the exit point for the proposed underground connection to Parcheggio Lauro.
Jeff Johnston , assistant professor, ASC Computer Imaging and Architectural Engineering Technology Department , who accompanies the architecture students during their semester in Sorrento, notes, “The idea for the Marina Piccola project really began last year when I noticed that the city had commissioned a study for the development of a new piazza area in part of the existing ferry boat port. The piazza design was in response to the just completed Parcheggio Lauro, a new, multi-story underground parking garage at the top of the cliffs of Sorrento. The city hoped to alleviate a serious problem of congestion in the main square of town (Piazza Tasso) by providing car, scooter, and bus parking in this new facility. The plan is to eventually connect Parcheggio Lauro with the port by creating a set of elevators and moving sidewalks underground and exiting roughly 120 feet down in the port itself.
“The design drawings that we saw on billboards in town last year were very preliminary, so I thought this might make a good exercise for the students. Unfortunately, we began the project too late last year, but having had a year to think about it, we started earlier and, with input from the marketing and demographic studies that the Alfred State business students also studying in Sorrento carried out, we saw much greater potential in the scope of the project.”
Marina Piccola is one of two ports in Sorrento. Marina Grande, at the east end of town, is quieter and functions primarily as a fishing port. Marina Piccola is more centrally located and is the major point of entry and departure for many of the 2,000,000 tourists who visit Sorrento annually.
One of the many aspects of Sorrento addressed in the project was to create a place where people would gather: shops, restaurants and cafes, and in other entertainment and recreational activities. Currently, many people who come to Sorrento only pass through briefly on their way to Capri. A primary goal of the project was to capture some of those people for a longer period of time.
Dianne Tuzzolino , associate professor, ASC Business Department , who accompanied her students during their semester in Sorrento, decided to use the port project as a way for her business students to study international tourism, and also as a vehicle to apply what her students have been learning with respect to sustainable business practices.
Her students researched the nature of tourism in Sorrento, assessed the strengths and weaknesses of current businesses in the port, and studied the possible impacts of an enhanced, sustainable port facility.
Using the business students' findings as a guide, the architecture and interior design students spent a week studying the physical features of the port, and then developed master plans for implementing as many of the business students' recommendations as possible.
Two teams of seven students each developed a separate master plan, each with somewhat different emphases and features. Once the master plans were roughly drawn, each student selected a single aspect, or feature, to design on his/her own.
During the early weeks of the project, Cristiana Panicco, Director of Sant'Anna Institute  (formerly Sorrento Lingue Institute), contacted the mayor's press secretary and found that there was a great deal of interest in what the Alfred State groups were doing, and from there, plans were made to have the students present their projects to the mayor and the city council. The student designs will give the city a number of potentially beneficial improvements to consider.
Early on, we asked Fabio Fiorentino, a local architect, to speak to the students about the history of the development of Marina Piccola over the past 200 years. Fiorentino, along with his father Alessandro, has done some design work in the past related to the port, and both are deeply interested in the history of Sorrento and the upgrading of the existing port.
Most importantly, the project, and the presentation to the city, will open a design dialog between ASC students and the city of Sorrento.
Pictured here, standing, l-r: Adam Smisloff, Rochester, business management; Michael Fingar, Clifton Park, architectural technology (BS); Dianne Tuzzolino, ASC associate professor, Business Department; Trevor Roeske, Wellsville, architectural technology (BS); Anthony Principe, Stony Point, architectural technology (BS); Frank Carzo, Whitesboro, architectural technology (BS); Lee Smith, Waverly, architectural technology (BS); Giuseppe Cuomo, Mayor of Sorrento; Dr. Cristiana Panicco, director of Sant'Anna Institute (formerly Sorrento Lingue Institute) Dr. John M. Anderson, president, Alfred State College; Daniel Lamm, Tonawanda, architectural technology (BS); John Zappolo, Elmont, business administration (BBA); Ray Sova, Syracuse, architectural technology (BS); Tyler Canne, Canisteo, business administration (BBA); Cory Roberts, Stanley, architectural technology (BS); Jacob Mountain, Almond, architectural technology (BS); and Jeffrey Johnston, ASC assistant professor, Computer Imaging & Architectural Engineering Technology; Seated, l-r: Emily Konka, Bliss, architectural technology (BS); Kerri Cavanaugh, Holbrook, architectural technology (BS); Kathleen Ward, Phoenix, architectural technology (BS); Jessica Suojanen, Lake Placid, architectural technology (BS); Courtney Traver, Clifton Park, interior design; and Maura Condon, Hornell, liberal arts and sciences: social science.