consultants are sandburs

Thursday, June 30, 2016

YES, YES, YES! A public panel in Cincinnati has a conscience. They tell Flaherty and Collins a design is too butt ugly to accept. Mincing a few words, that is the message.

Cincinnati Business Courier, dated June 29, 2016, "Panel: Fourth and Race project design should go back to the drawing board," this link. Read it and you decide, delicately saying too butt ugly to accept, or if not that, what?

This excerpt:

Architect John Senhauser, another member of the board, compared the building to a piece of writing.

“This is a case where there was a story where there was too much going on to even understand what the story was,” he said.

[...] “It’s one of the great downtown streets in America,” Muller said. “It’s a timeline from 1840 all the way up to 2013 (with Great American Tower). Each block is almost intact, in order. It’s an extraordinary chronology of architectural history.”

[...] Pogue’s Garage, which currently sits on the site, was an eyesore when it was built in the 1960s, Senhauser said, and it stifled activity. This project is an opportunity to correct what was done back then, he added.

“To my mind, that’s kind of the urban obligation and the civic obligation of what a developer might do there, particularly in light of the subsidies that developer is getting. It’s public money. We have to get something for our money,” he said. “If we look at what makes a good urban space … we probably wouldn’t pick a model of a parking garage that would create that sort of life or livelihood.

And the image leads this post. Please note. It's not as ugly as the thing that got hung onto the parking garage at Ramsey Town Center. Too bad Ramsey lacked the taste sensitivity shown in Cincinnati. Surely not shown by Darren Lazan, or Cronk, or any of their million dollar plus Landform buddies. But in fairness to Flaherty and to whoever does design work for them, pseudo-architects, whatever the term, pre-existing in Town Center was City Hall and then diagonally across the street, Jim Deal's office building with its multiplicity of facades. Not a main street with historic architectural integrity. There was the ramp, architecturally the best design there at the time, having integrity and not gingerbread tarting up, but it got covered. The rail stop, also clean in design.

The council back then was not architecturally astute; but nobody mentioned aesthetics. It was all about how massively Flaherty was to be subsidized, or not, with design being off the stove (i.e., not even back burner).

Finally somebody has had the taste and collective will to call that firm out over design faux quality and near-complete lack of any aesthetic integrity.

Bravo, Cincinnati. A late calling out in the Flaherty firm's history, but better that than never. Telling it like it is: " ... in light of the subsidies that developer is getting. It's public money. We have to get something for our money."

A notion unfortunately absent in Ramsey. The Flaherty rental will age in place looking over time as it looked when construction concluded and it was brand new for occupancy, always looking the same. Butt ugly.

Kvetching over what could have been done cleaner and better in Ramsey Town Center aside, the Cincinnati situation is at the early stage where bad error can be forestalled. Another online report notes:

Sometimes less is more when it comes to building design.

That’s what members of Cincinnati’s Urban Design Review Board said Tuesday to architects of a more than $100 million development at Fourth and Race streets. The Atlanta-based Preston Partnership made an hour-long presentation with renderings and design plans for the more than $100 million downtown development project.

[...] However, board member and architect John Senhauser said the building’s design incorporates too many design elements and has a frenetic appearance.

[...] Edsel Arnold, design principal at the Preston Partnership, said designs presented Tuesday were early concepts and could be revised.

[...] The former Pogue's garage isn’t expected to be razed until late summer. But the garage's replacement is expected to rejuvenate a city block with new residents and commercial activity. Downtown business owners and design experts panned the garage's design when it opened in 1967.

The project development team is expected to return to the Urban Design Review Board later this summer. The five-member Urban Design Review Board advises the city manager on the appropriateness of major design projects around Downtown and the riverfront. The board's opinions are advisory only.

This Preston Partnership is apparently the design firm handed back its Cincinnati design. Whether that firm is responsible for other Flaherty designs, including the thing in Ramsey Town Center, is unclear from reporting. For all we can tell the thing in Ramsey may have been designed by Ryan Cronk on the back of a napkin; and finalized from that. In any event the rejected Cincinnati design, from the one published online rendering, appears more architecturally restrained than the Ramsey project; that being so despite the adjective "frenetic" used in characterizing it in the course of the advisory board's disapproval.

In Ramsey, Flaherty put up frenetic-plus, with a little salt water pool.

scale: compare the pool to a row of parking spaces

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