Ask and ye shan’t receive

Design Review Alert: The Webb building, on 20th Street North and Second Avenue, has undergone a renovation definitely not in keeping with the design approved by the Design Review Committee back in March (see our initial post, with the approved renderings, here).

Going rogue

Instead of the sleek, metal fascia coursing (with the ability to host signage) proposed by architect Pete Pritchard in March, that was unanimously approved by the DRC, we get scored stucco panels that…don’t seem to be approved by anyone. Unless I’m missing something here, this is an example of a building owner going through the correct motions of hiring a good architect, preparing renderings, going to DRC, and getting approved—and then doing something completely different. Why? And what repercussions are there? This is such an important intersection, and to replace solid, blank infill panels with, well, solid, scored infill panels is not acceptable. What was originally storefront glass transoms needs to be replaced either with glass, or with projecting metal/signage, in order for the building base to be correctly proportioned to the top.

Next door, moreover, the owner also owns another great historic building. Guess what he started doing today? See below:

Are you kidding me?

Yep–they’re painting all that beautiful cornice, trim, and historic brick what appears to be battleship gray, in a manner similar to what we saw in the 1970s when downtown property owners were desperate to try to camouflage all that old-fashioned detail in order to compete with suburban malls. This paint job, unless I’m wrong, did not go to Design Review and is literally going up on the whim of the owner.

[It is my understanding that architect Pete Pritchard has not been engaged in either of these situations.]

I’ve learned today that DRC will review what’s happening at both properties and ask the owner to come into the next meeting to explain himself. Penalties? Not sure, but one obvious one is denial of certificate of occupancy. Let’s hope we’re not left with a recalcitrant owner, a partially painted and heavily stuccoed pair of forlorn buildings,  and a frustrated City in a reluctant standoff mode. Stay tuned.

[thanks to Chuck Strahan for the pics]

13 responses to “Ask and ye shan’t receive

  1. That is depressing.

  2. Painting brick seems to be a bad trend in downtown. The old Tom Williams building has a really bad paint job in beige.

  3. Oy. What is it about Birmingham that attracts bad architectural decisions? Thank god for Jeremy. 🙂

  4. This is total disrespect for the property, the Design Review Committee, Downtown, and all that pass by! Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Jeremy, and I hope the owner has enough cash to redo it properly….

  5. You are our watchdog, JCE. While I’m sypathetic normally to property owner rights, there has to be something done for deviating from the approved plan. Right?

    • Yes–no one forced Mr. Ladd to purchase these buildings, which have been in a designated historic district for years. There are plenty of other places for private property owners to purchase property if they’re not interested in following guidelines!

  6. It needs a drive-through.

  7. Pingback: Design time | Bhamarchitect's Blog

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