Tag Archives: Design Review Committee

Checking in again

 

 

Hilton Parkside

Could be anywhere

This morning at Design Review Committee, the new dual-branded hotel (Hilton Garden Inn and Home 2 Suites) along 2nd Avenue South between 17th and 18th Streets received approval for final materials (snapshot of rendered elevations above). This project, one block south of Railroad Park, will be the first hotel to rise in the Parkside neighborhood; the site is already cleared and construction should start soon. The materials are a combination of brick and stucco; the architect is Bradley, Schmidt & Carn from Dothan, AL. While the massing, color palette, and generic detailing are all scripted from Hilton’s playbook–with the result being a rather unmemorable composition–at least from an urban standpoint the facades come up to the sidewalk edges (with attractive landscaping by Birmingham’s Macknally Land Design) and the lobby lounges and cafes open to terraces facing the streets. The biggest disappointment is the large amount of surface parking in the rear which takes up half a city block–the City needs to do better creating shared, structured parking for the Parkside district so that each individual project isn’t forced to use valuable land for this purpose.

Homewood Suites

Trying to do the right thing

Also presented this morning was the long-awaited Homewood Suites hotel project (architect Richard Rauh above) which has already broken ground; it too was coming for final material approval. If you look closely at the image above, you’ll see a diagram on the screen of every piece of the historic ground floor facade (formerly Five Points Music Hall and Piggly Wiggly) documented for a meticulous replication. The original Art Deco facade was found close to collapse during demolition and could not be saved; the developer will now reproduce it. A synthetic stucco material was rejected by the Committee; the developer will return most likely with true limestone for this portion (the remainder of the eight story Art Deco-style building will be brick and stucco).

Empire Exterior

A notch up

A few blocks away, as we’ve previously noted the historic Empire Building (above, First Avenue North looking east to 20th Street) is under massive renovation into a luxury boutique hotel under the Marriott Autograph brand; the new Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook a few miles south shares this branding. A more modest 3-star Marriott offering will abut the Empire in the former Alagasco building directly west. Campo Architects of New Orleans is the architect.

Empire Lobby

100 years old and beautiful

A peek into the Empire’s lobby (above) shows the original marble, staircase, and light fixtures that we hope are on their way to loving restoration. Whereas the Hilton hotels in Parkside are resolutely bland and generic, this one should be full of character and specific. And it’s exciting that Birmingham will have more 4-star lodging options.

Redmont

And 4 stars more

Finally, as the Birmingham Business Journal reported earlier this week, the Redmont Hotel–at this point Birmingham’s grande dame having opened in 1925–will reopen next month as another 4-star hotel under Hilton’s Curio brand. We wish the Redmont, and these other hotels, much success as they increase City Center hotel options and–hopefully–provide us with some interesting new food and beverage choices.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season whether in a hotel or at home, and we’ll be back in January!

[thanks to Bradley Schmidt & Carn for the Parkside renderings]

Public art!

0001

Vulcan, vulcan, vulcan

Great cities incorporate public art into the built environment; Birmingham has lagged others in this regard. Yesterday at Design Review Committee, the City took a step towards improving the situation with unanimous approval of a mural painting on the East wall of the Lichter’s Building (facing a parking lot fronting 19th Street North between 3rd and 4th Avenues, rendering above). The mural will be in the style of the late artist Andy Warhol, and will feature Vulcan, the symbol of the city.

It was especially heartening to see a unanimous approval for such a relatively large, bold artwork. Eight years ago there was push-back on the large painted mural sign we proposed for our 2nd Row development–which was at the time considered audacious for a downtown historic district (a muted dark gray in color, it was ultimately approved; progress photo from 2007 below). Thankfully, the Committee, and the public generally, now better appreciates the role that art, and its cousin good graphic design, can play in helping to revitalize and invigorate urban areas.

2nd Row Painting.jpg

A truly skilled urban artist at work

[thanks to Kyle Kruse for the Lichter’s mural image, and to the Birmingham News for the file photo of the 2nd Row mural]

Design Review Agenda January 9

Here’s the Design Review Committee agenda for Wednesday (January 9). Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown.

I.        Call to Order:  Minutes of the December 19, 2012 meeting.

II.        Name:  Mr. Dan Fritts (Live Design Group)

Site Address:  3100 Clairmont Ave. (St. Symeon Orthodox Church)

District: Highland Park Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  New church construction and renovations to existing church buildings

III.       Name: Mr. David Sanders (Champion Windows)

Site Address: 1243 23rd Street South (Condominium Unit)

District:  Highland Park Local Historic

Requesting approval for: Replacement windows

IV.       Name: Mr. Kyle Clark (Shield Properties)     DELETED (Rescheduled for 1/23/13)

Site Address: 2501 Aberdeen Road

District: Red Mountain Suburbs Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Painting and landscaping for ADA-compliant handicap ramp

V.        Name:  Mr. Zach Jones (Design Team Sign Company)

Site Address:  611 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd, South (Newk’s Café)

District:  Midtown

Requesting approval for: Awning and sign

VI.       Name: Mr. Melvin Cooper

Site Address: 7524 1st Avenue, North (Wells Fargo)

District:  East Lake

Requesting approval for: New ATM

VII.     Name:  John Sexton (Black Design Architecture)

Site Address: 725 29th Street South (Slice Pizza)

District:  Lakeview

Requesting approval for:  Rear Building addition

VIII.    Name: Mr. Mike Gibson (Appleseed Workshop)

Site Address: 2429 2nd Avenue, North

District:  2nd Avenue, North

Requesting approval for: Renovations

Design Review Agenda December 19

Here’s the Design Review Committee agenda for Wednesday (December 19). Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown.

[Also, as anticipated, the Chicago-based developer of downtown’s recent Cityville mixed-use development has announced a new mixed-use development just south of the new baseball park, with 245 housing units and, we assume, ground-floor retail/restaurants. More details will follow once we see plans and renderings.]

I.         Call to Order:  Minutes of the November 28, 2012 meeting.

II.        Name: Ms. Mary McSpadden

Site Address: 5500 1st Avenue, South, Smiles For Keeps

District: Woodlawn

Requesting approval for: Signage

III.       Name: Mr. Ricky Armstrong (Modern Sign)

Site Address: 1200 4th Avenue, North (America’s First Credit Union)

District: Downtown Northwest

Requesting approval for: sign replacement

IV.       Name: Mr. Trevor Matchett  (Hendon & Huckestein Architects)

Site Address: 1924 11th Avenue, South,  Surin

District: 5 Points South

Requesting approval for: façade renovations

V.        Name: Mr. Jimmy Meeks (Owner)

Site Address:  1001 20th Street South (The Break)

District: Five Points South

Requesting approval for:  Paint and Awning

VI.       Name: Ms. Brenda Daniels (Daniels Signs)

Site Address:  9441 Parkway East (Tax Associates, Inc)

District:  Parkway East

Requesting approval for: Parapet sign and Pole sign reface

VII.     Name: Ms. Sheila Chaffin (UAB)

Site Address:  Block bounded by 12th & 13th Streets and 4th & 5th Avenues, South

District:  Midtown

Requesting approval for: Temporary parking

VIII.    Name:  Mr. Tim Hallman (Innerface Signs)

Site Address:  BJCC Market Place

District:  Cultural

Requesting approval for:  Storefront temporary signage

IX.       Name: Mr. Daryl Williams

Site Address: 514 19th Street, Ensley (Volcano)

District:  Ensley

Requesting approval for: Facade repairs

Design Review November 28

Here’s the Design Review Committee agenda for tomorrow (November 28). Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown.

I. Call to Order:  Minutes of the November 14, 2012 meeting.

II. Name: Ms. Mary McSpadden

Site Address: 5500 1st Avenue, South, Smiles For Keeps

District: Woodlawn

Requesting approval for: Signage

III. Name:  Mr. Paul Irwin (Irwin Brothers Remodeling)

Site Address:  4142 Crescent Road

District: Forest Park Local Historic

Requesting approval for: Garage extension, addition of front yard parking pad to existing driveway, and new patio tile

IV. Name: Mr. Joey McClure (Joseph McClure Real Estate)

Site Address: 218 20th Street, North, Bistro Two Eighteen

District: Birmingham Green

Requesting approval for:  Sign

V. Name: Mr. Rakesh Patel

Site Address: 1016 20th Street, South, Homewood Suites  

District: 5 Points South

Requesting approval for: Elevation revision approval and site plan

VI. Name: Joe Rabun (Rabun, Rasche, Recetor, Reece Architects)

Site Address: 2221 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd., North; Westin Hotel

District: Cultural

Requesting approval for: Sign standards and signage

VII. Name:  David Watts

Site Address: 2011 11th Avenue, South 

District:  5 Points South

Requesting approval for:  Façade renovations

IX. Name: Ms. Lara Watson (Reliable Signs)

Site Address: 2228 Highland Avenue, South (Highland Package Store)

District:  Five Points South

Requesting approval for: Signage

X.      Name:  Mr. Robert Thompson (Thompson Architecture, Inc.)

Site Address: 20 South 20th Street (Alagasco Center for Energy Technology)

District:  Midtown

Requesting approval for:  Parking Renovations / Landscaping

XI. Name: Mr. Tommy Wood

Site Address: 2329 1st Avenue North

District:  Morris Avenue

Requesting approval for:  Roof top greenhouse

 

New hotel inches forward

Perils of historicism

Today at Design Review Committee the developer of a new hotel on the west side of 20th Street South a half block south of the fountain in the historic Five Points South neighborhood presented a revised exterior scheme. We last saw this proposal over a year ago; since then the exterior has traded its “bland suburban” character for something more attuned to the Art Deco surroundings of the area (above). However, the proposal was denied, and the applicant asked to return to a special subcommittee that would work with him further.

Part of the issue is that the new structure sits on an historic base–a former music club and, previously, a Piggly Wiggly grocery store–and that base is unsuccessfully integrated with the new facade above. While the new facade is certainly an improvement over the earlier design, the devil is in the details (and no true details have been presented yet). If all those vertical bits and chamfers will be formed out of synthetic stucco, we may be end up with poorly-executed historicism. We’ll have to see how this one progresses.

Hip not

Also denied was a revised Pepsi advertisement (above), designed to wrap around the electronic message board at Two North Twentieth, the former Bank for Savings building at Morris Avenue and 20th Street North. The Committee found this new design still too inartistic and commercial to warrant such a huge, full-color, singular statement on the City skyline. A frustrated building representative may consider appealing this ruling. This City was built on commerce, and the old electric sign is grandfathered. But the Committee is clearly drawing a very firm line here.

[thanks to Rakesh Patel for the hotel sketch, and Harbert Realty for the banner]

Design Review October 24

Below is the agenda for this week’s October 24 Design Review Committee meeting. Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown.

I. Call to Order:  Minutes of the October 10, 2012 meeting.

II. Name: Mr. Alex Krumdiek (Krumdiek A+I)

Site Address: 109 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd (AIA Offices)

District:  21st Street North

Requesting approval for: Façade renovations and awning

III. Name: Ms. Sharon Bradshaw (Scott Services)

Site Address: 2100 3rd Avenue, North, Cadence Bank

District: 21st Street District

Requesting approval for: sign

IV. Name: Mr. James Barden (B & B Quality Construction, Inc.)

Site Address: 2121 2nd Avenue, North (Old Spencer Building)

District: 2nd Avenue

Requesting approval for:  4th Floor Renovation

V. Name: Mr. Stephen Boehme (Twin Construction Co.)

Site Address: 3208 Carlisle Road

District: Red Mountain Suburbs Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Stairwell addition; door installation to replace existing window

VI. Name:  Mr. Charles Russel

Site Address:  423 20th Street South

District:  Midtown / Birmingham Green South

Requesting approval for:  Paint, awning and sign

VII. Name:  Mr. Keith Rouss (Harbert Realty)

Site Address:  2 North 20th Street

District:  20th Street

Requesting approval for: Roof top advertising sign

VIII. Name: Mr. David Brandt (Fravert Services)

Site Address:  1913 5th Avenue, North, Chic-fil-A

District: Birmingham Green

Requesting approval for: signs