Here’s one advantage of having a blog – the ability to provide to you more information on a story that just couldn’t fit into the newspaper (I’ve been told that because there are other writers at the paper, I can’t simply have two pages just for my stories each day).
Today’s paper had a story about a proposed Holiday Inn Express for Bricktown. Here is a more in-depth discussion of the proposed design:
Demolition of the building, however, is not a certainty. Committee members unanimously criticized the proposed design by Quinn & Associates, which included a facade of 61 percent brick and 49 percent synthetic stucco.
Kip Bettencourt, an architect with Quinn & Associates, defended the design and argued the use of synthetic stucco, commonly known as EIFS, was not a matter of cost. Instead, he said, the material was included as a matter of good design.
“I selected the amount of brick myself with architectural license,” Bettencourt said. “I felt that just slapping brick on this building for the sake of putting brick on it was inappropriate. These buildings were built at different times … and that’s how these things evolved and that’s what I was trying to be true to.”
The use of synthetic stucco – also known as Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS) – has been frowned on before by the Bricktown Urban Design Committee. A glass elevator tower was dropped from the Hampton Inn at Sheridan Avenue and Vince Gill Avenue when developers were forced by the committee to increase the amount of brick on the hotel and eliminate much of the proposed EIFS from the facade.
Bettencourt countered his project’s use of EIFS would be different.
“The synthetic plaster is a Dryvit product – we don’t like to call it EIFS because that has a negative connotation,” Bettencourt said. “This actually does have stone and mica in it … it has the appearance of granite. It certainly doesn’t look like the typical EIFS you would see.”
Bettencourt also agreed with committee comments that the building was “a little bit busy.” But he said he was trying to provide something “attractive to address the corner of Oklahoma and Main Street.”Committee members, however, were unswayed by Bettencourt and ruled no demolition can take place before a new design is submitted that “flattens” the facade and eliminates much of the synthetic stucco.
Wilson also suggested the developers try to incorporate an antique boiler inside the building and the oldest part of the structure – the north facade facing the BPI parking lot.
John Sweeney, vice president of operations for Kusum Hospitality, said after the meeting his group is prepared to follow the committee’s recommendations – including possible preservation of the dairy’s north facade.
“We definitely are doing more brick,” Sweeney said. “The thinking was, let’s get out concept together, and make sure the building fits on the site. And then let’s go to the committee and get their feedback and make sure we’re doing in the right direction. If they want 90 percent brick, whatever they want to do with that, we’ll be happy to along with them. We see the committee as a resource, as a valuable tool, in coming up with what’s right for Bricktown.”
Sweeney said he also had read criticisms voiced on local online chat boards and forums.
“We’re not going to build an eyesore,” Sweeney said. “We’re relying on the local population, and we need the local population to like what we do. The Holiday Inn Express we’re going to build will be built to last.”
Sweeney noted his group is spending $2.2 million to renovate a two-year old Amerisuites at Belle Isle Station to convert it into a Hyatt Place – proof, he said, of their commitment to quality.But urban design committee members remained concerned Wednesday that franchise architecture, and not design intended for Bricktown, governed plans for the proposed Holiday Inn Express.
“It concerns me to destroy this building … and replace it with a busy footprint with 51 percent brick and all these ins and outs, and adapting a Holiday Inn franchisor’s requirements,” committee member Bob Bright said.
Sweeney promised he and his partners are balancing the desires of the community and Holiday Inn.
“Holiday Inn wants to brand their building so that a customer driving down the road might not see the sign, but they see the building and know it’s a Holiday Inn Express just as when you see a Chilli’s or any other national chain,” Sweeney said. “They have guidelines they want us to follow. But they’ll conform to the local codes as well.”