By Meghan C. Davis
As Pamela Sterne King, M.A., leads her students around the long-neglected Lyric Theatre, this monument to Birmingham’s boomtown heyday comes back to life.
The Lyric, built in 1914, is one of the few remaining venues nationwide with the acoustics and close audience seating designed for vaudeville shows. A nonprofit group now owns the theatre and is raising funds to restore it as a performing arts center. King, an assistant professor of history at UAB and former historic preservation officer for the city of Birmingham, wants students to learn about the city’s “often-forgotten fun personality,” she says. She also wants them to witness the revitalization of the downtown theatre and retail district and see the potential for further development.
Detailed inspections of the city’s treasures are a part of King’s Historic Preservation and Public Policy course at UAB, which includes extended walking tours of the city. “My students absolutely love to see where Birmingham’s history was made,” she says.
By Matt Windsor • Illustrations by Tim Rocks and Jessica Huffstutler
In some ways, America’s obesity problem has the simplest of solutions. If we could reduce the calories in our diets and increase the time we spend exercising, we could virtually guarantee ourselves longer lives and billions in health-care savings.
But that’s a big “if.” Despite persistent public health messages, physicians’ warnings, and other outreach efforts in recent years, Americans are heavier than ever. Fresh ideas are desperately needed. Dozens of UAB research teams are engaged in the search for answers, exploring everything from new motivational techniques to a field-ready tool for measuring body fat. Learn more about four of these investigators and their big ideas:
By Charles Buchanan • Photos by Tim Jones and Steve Wood • Video by Jean-Jacques Gaudel
Adam Stermer has been thinking a lot about polyester lately—specifically, how to drape more than 5,000 square feet of it over the façade of the Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center (ASC) without destroying the structure. “The wind drag created by one sheet of this tremendous amount of fabric would tear the building apart in a mild breeze,” says Stermer, the ASC’s technical director. “So our seamstress spent a week creating eight separate panels, using our largest stage as her workshop.”
Once unfurled, the luminous white fabric will provide a bright backdrop for Light Dreams, the ASC’s nighttime celebration of Birmingham’s artistic and technological creativity. The free, public event returns for its second year on May 8, 9, and 10 with new dimensions: 3-D digital projections, virtual reality, an expanded parade, and more than double the number of glowing, smoking, misting, mesmerizing installations created by 40 local artists.