Friday, November 13, 2015

Ashkanazi "removes the identity of these sheds"

UDARP was split in their opinions about the redesign of the HarborPlace Pavilions which have been before the design review panel for a second time. David Rubin is "very positive about this" but the other panelists, Richard Burns, Gary Bowden and David Haresign were much less impressed. Even the generally rather accommodating Planning Director Tom Stosur bemoaned elements that are "to heavy", "keep the lightness", he admonished.
wood and steel frames dominate the refurbished waterside facades as well
as a big rooftop sign that may well be illegal

Ashkanazi proposes to replace the glass house additions with trellis structures on the upper level and fully built out first floor levels allowing extended decks above on the first level. They suggest to eliminate the mall like interior hallway in the Pratt Street pavilion with a central passage from which the second floor "marketplace" could be reached via stairs and elevator.
To improve the backs of the pavilions they suggested more glass and green walls on the concrete near Conway Street. As materials for solid wall areas they propose copper for the street sides and wood for the water sides.
I appreciate the challenge you are facing. A lot of the moves you are doing are good. Where you lose it is the waterside where the frame is lost. The frame should tie it all together. It needs to be the same logic on Pratt and Waterside. I don't see wood as an appropriate material choice. Why does the copper not reappear on the waterside? With your choice of materials you reinforce that whole problem of front and back. There should be consistent around the building. (Richard Burns)
MG2, a Seattle retail design firm said they wanted to bring the Pavilions back to their original design intent by Gary Bowden had to remind them what that intent was: It was the idea of re-inventing the former industrial sheds that had stood along the harbor and re-interpret them as market places. He missed in the new design "the jewelry aspect of the old design" with which he meant that the old design followed a concept of the "decorated shed", the jewelry being the glass houses that bulged out, the steel and cable railings and the round steel columns that articulated the frame. Bowden observed that "all elements of grid and structural system have been erased on the first floor" and summarized with the new design "we removed the identity to these sheds, the proposed elevation is too simple".
Even this unfocused screen shot shows that the existing elevation (above) is much more detailed and
fine grained than the proposed one below

MG2 flanks the existing round concrete columns with W steel posts that according to UDARP members buried the concrete columns rather than emphasizing them. MG2 also set out to make the backs of the pavilions more attractive by reopening glass panels that had been covered up, a move that Richard Burns doubted would be successful. "Retailers need a back of house area" he said and predicted they would cover the rear openings once again.

The renderings clearly show, that the fine-grained texture of the pavilions will be lost in favor of larger, flatter and less linear surfaces. MG2 defended this by saying that they needed "to strike a balance" between respecting the pavilion design and modern retailers expectations. That balance, obviously is quite a different aspiration than reinstating the original design of the sheds.
This rendering shows "the hanging thing" suspended under the gables of
the porches facing the waterfront

The large rooftop sign that MG2 is especially proud of, is very much in question for legal reasons: The current Baltimore zoning code simply prohibits rooftop signs. Only the new zoning code currently stuck in City Council has at least a provision for an exception.

One thing that all UDARP members agreed on, "that hanging thing" shown suspended under the gables of the pavilion that face the waterfront has to go. "It is denying the porch", said Bowden.

In spite of the rather fundamental criticism UDARP let Ashkanazi advance to the next level. The designers have to come back one more time for a review of the working drawings and UDARP expects that the architects will have addressed the concerns by then.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

See also BBJ report about the design review and my previous article about the new design after the first UDARP session (Doublespeak)

This screen shot shows how massive the first floor build out would appear compared to today's glass house additions
The proposed green wall on the back of the Light Street pavilion with a new stair going up to the second level
traversing the enclosed electrical transformer along the way.

1 comment:

  1. It appears that the new design jeopardizes a principle reason for the success of Harborplace with both locals and tourists -- the open air seating areas and the second-level porches and walkway, which create the Inner Harbor's most popular attraction -- watching other people. The slightly different levels now eliminate eye contact with the people being watched and create a continuous, irresistible parade of individuals and costumes of all ages, demographics and nationalities. Once lost, there is no way to replace it.