When designs were unveiled over the fall for a Holiday Inn Express at Oklahoman and Main Street in Bricktown, the project was greeted with applause by the public. The design were especially popular when seen in light against previous incarnations of the project just a few years ago that never got off the ground. The architects at ADG might have walked away from a conceptual presentation believing their work would easily win approval, especially when compared to other hotel projects reviewed and approved by the Bricktown Urban Design Committee. As I noted after the design review in January, the feedback from the committee was, well, confusing:
Plans for the hotel, drawn up by Architectural Design Group, were applauded at Tuesday’s meeting of the Bricktown Urban Design Committee, but not without conflicting guidance given on plans for the entryway.
Panel members unanimously agreed to allow the project to proceed, but with possible changes to the hotel’s entrance to be considered at a later date. Committee member Bob Bright, also a planning commissioner, repeatedly criticized the height of an entrance archway, while another member, architect Mark Krittenbrink, argued for the height but didn’t like its angled protrusion.
“Making a prominent entrance is typical of the era,” Krittenbrink said. “But the leaning out … is not historical.”
Another member, Avis Scaramucci, indicated she had no problem with the archway. She also disagreed with Bright’s suggestion that the entrance canopies were not a good fit for the district, arguing the design does reflect other canopies found in Bricktown. Bright also questioned whether the two-story glass-encased lobby was in keeping with the historic nature of the century-old warehouse district.
“It just seems like someone decided to stick something on the front to make it look modern,” Bright said. “It doesn’t seem consistent with where we are.”
Scott Dedmon, project architect, responded the design team wished to avoid a “Disneyland replication design” that attempts to recreate historic buildings. “We’re building a building in 2013, not a building in 1915,” Dedmon said.
Not everyone liked the committee’s reaction, and over at OKC Talk, several folks questioned whether the committee had gone too far. So how is Dedmon to respond? Well, in this case, they’re returning to the committee Wednesday with five alternatives that attempt to address all the conflicting feedback received in January. This sort of effort, in my years covering Bricktown Urban Design since 1997, is unprecedented.
I wonder if anyone on the committee has really spent the time to review the ordinance that established the design review and set up the committee’s responsibilities.
Here’s a section the Oklahoma City Municipal Code I find especially noteworthy:
§ 59-7150. – Bricktown Core Development District.
K. Design Guidelines for Certificates of Approval for BC Zoned Properties. The following design guidelines are advisory and serve as a reference for all parties involved in the design review process. They do not constitute regulations. The Bricktown Urban Design Committee shall be guided by these guidelines:
(2) Brick building facades, preferably varying shades of red brick, are an established and a critical characteristic of the district’s core. New and renovated facades should enhance or complement this characteristic. Innovative design and creative use of building materials, such as glass, concrete and architectural metals are encouraged. Mirrored glass and vinyl siding are discouraged.
UPDATE: Committee members Bob Bright and Mark Krittenbrink (who were among the ones giving conflicting feedback on the first presentation of the Holiday Inn application), were absent at today’s meeting. That left the committee short of a quorum, so the question of this project’s design remains to be decided another day.