So I havn't written an actual blog post in a while... Most have just been recent work I've been doing... But now that I have time and am gainfully unemployed, I'll try to have an opinion about stuff again...
So this was just announced. I'm sure everyone in Kentucky has already heard about it and everything, but I just found out. I remember the fiasco a few years ago with the original Centerpointe shown here:
Kinda pathetic right? A mega block that kinda looks like an actual middle finger to the city with absolutely no context... Plus in order to create it, they destroyed the best block in the city. Really the only urban block in the city.... It had the only nightclub, the only decent billiards bar, the only lesbian bar, a haberdasher (I really don't use that word often enough), and a super old jewlery pawn shop, and what I think might have been a strip club? May also have just been a douche bar. Either way... It was a pretty cool block with alot happening every night. The only real nightlife in the city that doesn't require driving. That said, the Webb's (think redneck Portman minus the ideology) mowed it down without enough funding to construct the monstrosity they proposed. Alas, the site stood empty for a while. Hundreds of proposals were created for it including (some of my favorites):
Paul Preissner (with his stereotypical leopard patterning...)
There were a great many more proposals, many of which I can't find now, but they're out there... Anyways, none of it impressed the Webbs. Finally though, they have a new proposal which I think should quiet most naysayers in the city, though I admit, I am still quite unimpressed with the tower... I mean come on Jeanne Gang... You can do better that this:
It looks like they just too the original tower and rearranged it not to be symmetrical.. Same silly floating roof gardens, same stupid filleted corners, same ugly pseudo shiny steel facade. Same awkward window openings. The rendering makes it look much better than this Graves-esque model:
This photo was taken by Graham Gordon and boy those old people looked pissed...
I wasn't buying the proposal either until I saw they had plans to develop the whole site in conjunction with 5 local architects; David Biagi (most known for being the head of the Architecture school), CSC Design (little confused about this one... maybe they just thought they needed a sustainable architect? Dick Levine mostly does solar houses out in the burbs...), EOP (kinda the corporate go-to in Lexington.. Responsible for crap like this, still they do good work sometimes), Omni Architects (Easily the best name on the list.. This firm, if in any other city, would be an international name), Ross Tarant Architects (Seriously? Do they need any more work? They've been snatching up everything all over the state, snaking it from much better firms than themselves. Kinda bleh if you ask me...), and Pohl Rosa Pohl (I think this firm has alot to offer.. They havn't done anything big or super impressive, but they seem very Williams/Tsien to me... Might do something well. Met the owner one time at a bar with Clyde.. Quite a character, in a good way). Needless to say, the list has its ups and downs, but none of the selections (besides CSC) is really that surprising. They got the academic, the sustainable, the corporate, the popular one, and the artsy often forgotten one. Still, kinda wish they had given some other firms with potential talent a shot instead of just narrowing the field to 5 architects... Like had open competitions for the actual buildings instead of restricting the architects to that selection... Ah well. guess I just wanted Lucas/Schwering to have a swing. I know given the chance, they would make a pretty incredible building...
Back to the proposal. The thing that sold me was this diagram:
So much illustrator... Still it gets the point of the proposal across well. Decentralization, variation of scale, variation of program, some idea about urban infrastructure and circulation, some idea about sustainability... Good job Lexington, you have yourself a working urban proposal!
This diagram further sold me in that they actually responded to the original buildings on the site, something the original Webb design failed to do:
That little "shard building" though? That prob needs some rethought... I think they think so too, as it is avoided in the text and in all the renders.. Myabe its just a fill in for a midscale tower designed by one of the other firms mentioned... My bet would be EOP or Omni? Still, I'm pleasantly surprised by the urban proposal, even if I'm a bit let down by the tower itself... Maybe in time they'll make it a bit more elegant and I'll have nothing to complain about.
Also, the title of the article at the beginning. Genius.