I'm not sure what to think about all this yet. My general reaction is negative because the drawings all make the new building look like, well, an office building. But maybe that can't be helped because it IS an office building.
I guess the reason I'm disappointed is because I was hoping for something visionary. I'm sure that thoughtfully chosen materials could elevate this project, but I still can't help but feel that these initial designs are pretty pedestrian.
Anyway, here are the there photos. (They're not really considering Scheme F.)
I think everyone was stunned to finally be staring at the prospect of an office building across from Jules Maes. No one's ready for it. The comments were mostly negative, though also mostly resigned:
"It looks like the Best Buy in Northgate."
"It's an insult to the neighborhood."
"This is the start of the end."
Many of the ideas I wrote up for the building back in September were acknowledged in some way. For instance, the architect riffed on my Corten steel idea, though he said they couldn't use that actual material as siding because it would rust away. Instead, he offered up the idea of using Corten-style bronze ceramic siding from the Spanish tile manufacturer Tau Ceramica. (How did I know it was from Tau Ceramica? Because I happened to tile my bathroom with that exact same material, which I'm absolutely crazy about in indoor applications.)
And they mentioned my green roof idea after someone else in the audience brought up the idea. A green roof, with public access to those amazing views -- yeah, that would be great. I think the community would need to push for it, though, because I bet the set-up costs, logistical challenges, etc., would be a pain in the ass.
Several people said they'd like the new building to be brick, or partially brick, and that everyone else had been saying that they'd like the building to be brick as well. Jim Harmon from Sabey explained that the feedback they'd received thus far suggested the opposite -- that people did NOT want the building to be brick. Someone in the audience said something to the effect of "WHO said they didn't want the building to be brick?" Though I was a little scared someone in the audience might hit me in the head with a brick, I admitted that I thought that putting up new brick right next to all that gorgeous old brick wouldn't look very good. My intuition says that the contrast should be greater. But then again, what the hell do I know?
Beside, this isn't really my cause. I'm not a resident or employee or employer in Georgetown -- I'm just a fan. The opinions of those who spend their days and nights there are worth more than mine. They've already thought about it more than I have, and they're the ones who are going to be looking at the new building all the time.
Can someone with good design sense and love and respect for the area please enter the general discussion? The time is now. Send your comments to Sabey, post them here, come to the meetings, whatever. They may not act on all these ideas in the end, but I do believe that Sabey is at least listening.