So here’s the latest on the Bricktown fire station designs. Avis Scaramucci, chair of the Bricktown Association and a member of the Bricktown Design Review Committee, spoke late this afternoon with City Manager Jim Couch.
Now, before I tell you what Couch had to say, consider the following:
- I was told by Assistant City Planner Susan Miller the project should have been submitted to the Bricktown Design Review Committee and was uncertain why it hadn’t been.
- Fire Chief Keith Bryant told me he’s not ready for this preliminary design to be submitted to the Bricktown Design Review Committee. He said he wanted to make sure the designs were complete before sending them to the committee. So, the council is being asked Tuesday to approve preliminary designs without the benefit of knowing whether Bricktown might hate them or whether they’re any good. And Bryant is to have us believe that the city is prepared to scrap the “final” designs and start from scratch if they are rejected by the urban design committee. History tells me that if the design committee were to balk, they’d be told it’s too late and too much time and money has been spent to start over.
- Public Works Director Dennis Clowers pretty much said the same as Bryant, adding the project went significantly over budget already. Does that indicate to you the city would have the resources to start over again once the designs are complete?
So now let’s move onto Avis Scaramucci’s conversation with Jim Couch. He told her it’s city policy to have council approve project designs first, and then have them go to design review committees. If this is policy, it must be fairly new because I’m not so certain I’ve seen it in practiced previously. And come to think of it, I’d be curious as to whether the Walnut Avenue bridge, or the Bricktown police substation ever went through design review.
What I do know is that city staff isn’t perfect. They make mistakes. I make mistakes. I do know the city hasn’t always played by the rules its imposed on the private side. I’ve seen privately sponsored public art projects grind to a virtual halt going through the tedius oversight of the Oklahoma City Arts Commission. No such delays were encountered with the Land Run Monument – city staff simply skipped the commission altogether.
I’m not sure if the city intended to skip Bricktown Urban Design or not. But I do question the logic of having the city council approve preliminary designs and allow them to be finalized without knowing that they are being critized within Bricktown. I’ll be at City Hall in the morning – maybe someone will educate me then.
It’s been suggested by a reader who also happens to be an architect that these Bricktown fire station designs look as if they were “value engineered” – city speak for cutting design features to keep the station within budget. But how can the city insist that private enterprise spend more, or be more creative at doing good design while keeping costs down, if it’s not willing to set the example.
McDonalds insisted it had to duplicate a suburban design already built in Mustang when it wanted to build in Bricktown – but the Bricktown Urban Design Committee didn’t cave when threatened with the possibility the restaurant wouldn’t get built. And guess what – McDonalds came around and found a way to design the restaurant so that it fit into Bricktown.
This project has been mired in controversy for the past several years. Remember, this is not a station that Bricktown merchants or property owners wanted or asked for. They privately fought against it, worried about fire engines racing down Sheridan Avenue, a pedestrian-heavy traffic corridor.
At least one Bricktown merchant swears that this station will result in a pedestrian getting hit by a fire engine racing to a medical call or accident. And such worries have been expressed to city officials in the past, so one must wonder what their liability will be if this comes to pass. Will an attorney dig up these warnings and then use them to get a big hefty settlement from taxpayers?
It was the city staff who insisted it had to build a new station in Bricktown and eliminate the one in the Oklahoma Health Center. And it was Assistant City Manager Jim Thompson who promised the Bricktown Association the station design would be one they could be proud of. So far, the response I’m hearing doesn’t involve a lot of pride.
Question: Is the Bricktown Police Substation something you would point to with pride? Would this fire station design evoke the same response? If this project does involve the old firefighter/police envy, well, sorry firefighters, but you’re not making the greatest impression on readers of OKC Central.
Thanks to poster “lasomeday,” we now have a comparison for the proposed new Bricktown fire station design. I’ve been unable to find a photo of the Mustang fire station complete, but this photo taken in 2005 provides a pretty good idea of what it looks like.
Compare this station to the designs below by LWPB in yesterday’s post. Then compare the fire station designs to the Bricktown police station, which was designed by Small Architects. Which station do you think will catch visitors’ attention and improve impressions of Oklahoma City?
(Photo grabbed from Small Architects site, taken by J.D. Merryweather)
The preliminary designs are in for the upcoming Bricktown fire station. The $2.7 million station, being designed by LWPB, is to be built at the corner of Lincoln and Sheridan – the east gateway to Bricktown.Designs call for the entrance to include a display area for a vintage 1910 fire truck.
A report submitted by LWPB to the city indicates the exterior is a “transitional design that blends contemporary aesthetic along with details such as windowless arches, red brick, etc.” that “evoke the essence of the Bricktown community.” The design also calls for sloping metal roofs over the truck bays that LWPB states is in keeping with Bricktown’s warehouse look (really?).
So, what do you think? Tuesday may be the only opportunity to question the design or express any concerns. The architects are asking the city council to allow them to proceed with final designs.
The council meets at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, third floor of City Hall, 200 N Walker. I do not believe this is within the Bricktown Urban Design district. Bricktown is in Ward 7, which is represented by Skip Kelly. If you like the designs, or if you have concerns, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org . Another interested party might be Meg Salyer, who represents the west half of downtown and is a veteran of downtown design review and development. Her email is email@example.com .
It looks like I’ll be relocating my Bricktown office. This is sad news to many in Bricktown – a stable, veteran operator closing shop. Did it have to happen? Depends on who you ask.
Favorite Uncommon Grounds memories: friendly arguments with Chad Huntington with a bemused Megan making fun of both us; hearing Gary Gregory’s big dreams for bringing retail back to downtown; having an interview interupted by a woman who demanded to know who I am – once I introduced myself, I asked what her name was and she insisted I already knew. When pressed, she said the paper had written all about her. Once she left, I was told several years ago she was an OSU student featured in Playboy. I still have no idea who she is.
Finally, and no offense to Tim and Alison at my second favorite coffee shop, The Buzz, but the flavored coffee at Uncommon Ground really was tops.
Now, let’s see how long the space goes empty.
It might sound like a game for my 3-year-old son, but it’s not. Instead. that’s the traffic engineering now in place for Robinson Avenue. I’m not sure if I understand the city’s logic on their recent conversion of Robinson Avenue between NW 6 and NW 13 to two-way traffic, and then leaving it one-way from NW 13 to (I think) NW 18. Maybe someone can enlighten me.
Forgive me, but I’ve been home sick for two days. Entertainment has consisted of watching cable news coverage of Blagojevich. And that brings me to the following question: who gets to play the Illinois governor in the inevitable movie? I’ve got a favorite.
I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the tone of some visitors’ comments on some of these posts. Criticize my thoughts, my writings, my observations – I’m ok with that. I don’t know everything, my wife will be quick to tell you I’m not perfect, and I need you the readers to provide the rest of the story.
But please do not insult fellow visitors who comment by calling them ignorant, stupid, etc. Debate and discussion are good and really are key to this blog’s success. Disagree with each other – challenge each other. But this is not the place to dismiss everyone who disagrees with you as being stupid or ignorant.
Several months ago I had to suspend comments and yank others when some visitors thought it was ok to personally attack college students whose ideas for a new convention center were posted on this site. I hated the experience and I don’t want to do it again.