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Everything posted by andrew.w

  1. It's still there at the moment, but not in the rendering. That corner of the upper plaza now looks like forgotten space with some new tall blank walls and a planter.
  2. ^Yep! That one. I have some additional pictures and renderings stored somewhere that I will have to dig up. It definitely wasn't a place for people by any means, but it was a pretty striking design, as was the upper plaza with the grove of trees and the reflecting pool around the clock.
  3. Nice to see some activation of the streetwall on that side, and the addition of a much needed stair (which has been lacking since the grand stair at the corner of Monroe was demolished). Like the building design though, I still wish the designs for this site had some sense of consistency, and hierarchy. It's like a jumble of boxes and ideas stuffed together. Say what you like about the fortress quality of the original Daverman design for the buildings and site, or even if you completely hate the aesthetics, there were some fine proportions, materiality, and consistency of design language at play to which this just doesn't live up.
  4. I seem to be differing quite a bit with the locals lately. I think the 200 Monroe building redo is pretty awful, but I am having a hard time calling this ugly, especially once the strong horizontal dark accents are done and the storefront is filled in. If it could be improved any, I think it could have used a more interesting brick - either texture or color variation or both, the windows could have been 4-6" wider, and one or two minor details to give it just a bit more texture and humanity. But I don't feel like it is that far off. Grand Rapids has been plagued with far more ugly residential developments in the last decade.
  5. I agree that the buildings hold together really well visually, and this is a very interesting design, but it seems like someone really failed at the planning of this block. The plaza/drop off and entrance are particularly engaging, but they primarily face into the parking garage and the loading dock of phase 1. Each building seems to be functioning in it's own world without any clear spacial and circulation relationships between them nor the surrounding city. Seems like a real missed opportunity to have all three phases share a common courtyard or at the very least have a coordinated pedestrian connection that then has a positive relationship to the street.
  6. I honestly think the school's design was very much disserviced by it's renderings, and I think the overall result is going to be positive. The worst part of design is the look of the gymnasium and it's relation to the street. The part facing the plaza is pretty glassy, playfully colorful, and the window pattern and scale should relate pretty well to a residential neighborhood.
  7. This is what happens when you take a quick snapshot of a in-progress model to demonstrate something to a client and they go and publish it on their website or show it to a news outlet. This being from experience.
  8. They were openings, and for some reason they decided to close them in. I'm guessing yet to be painted. Further proof that this thing is sort of being figured out as they go along.
  9. Ha, sorry to be contrarian but my first impression of that rendering is that is one hot mess. Random dodads and unrelated parts stuck together in an attempt to be interesting, but none of it all that good. But then again, I think the renovations to the Calder Plaza building are all tacked on crap with little thought to the building that they are attached too. At least the Calder Plaza renovations improved the pedestrian experience though; I think the ground two floors may actually be worse than they are now. Sure there seems to be an entrance facing Monroe, but the rest of it is actually less transparent than what's there currently and there are still massive planters barricading the building from the street.
  10. If it's office and steel, you are likely looking at no less than 13' floor to floor for office floors. You can get away with slightly lower in concrete, around 12' and still get 9' ceiling heights. Modern retail prefers 16' floor to floor and spaces lower than 14' can be harder to lease (at least in hot markets). So if I had to guess we are talking 75' minimum to as tall as 85'
  11. It feels like the design team (who was that again?) and the contractor struggled on this one too. And unfortunately the more one studies the final product, the more obvious it becomes. This is most definitely a big step in the right direction, but many of the details and decisions are just odd. In addition to things we've already noticed for some reason the plane of the windows on the yellow building is jumping back and forth on alternate floors. On floors 2, 4, and 6 they are set back about where the historic windows would have been. On 3 and 5 they are pushed right out to the edge of the exterior wall with no reveal. The same inconsistency happens between 6 and 7 on the red building.
  12. When I said roof, I guess I meant the entire top level(s). They could always do a hybrid solution to try to save money (though sometimes more labor intensive options like carefully removing and replacing glass within the same frame might actually cost more). Looking at the renderings again though, it's fairly apparent that this is an entirely new design with different articulation and vertical module. It looks like the glass will now go almost floor to ceiling instead of having a sill 24" off the floor. Actually if the install is mostly managed from the roof using swing stages and rigging, an install from the bottom up would provide better protection to the new work. A lot of curtainwall detailing also assumes the typical bottom up installation method.
  13. Assuming what exists is a traditional curtainwall system, all work has to be done from the outside. I'm sorry if it has been mentioned somewhere, but it's unclear if excepting the roof area if they will be reusing the existing frames and just changing the glass or completely removing and replacing the whole system. Even if it is new glass within the existing frame, that has to be installed from the outside. In a new construction tower the curtainwall panels are placed mainly via tower crane. Some select areas such as the top of the building and where the hoist is located are often installed with smaller cranes or swing stages as the tower crane is often removed from the site before the envelope is 100% complete to save costs. When a single panel of glass needs to be replaced on an existing building they typically use the window washing system in place with a swing stage to reach the required spot. But it would be somewhat unrealistic to do the entire building this way. I suspect they may start at the top and deconstruct enough to install a rigging system from which swing stages can be attached to several points or maybe the whole perimeter at once (this may be what you are seeing now).
  14. I haven't seen it in person or since the end of last year, but I'm at least a little optimistic that now that it has been exposed in another 20 years or so or when the found-urban-decay-chic look goes out of style someone will put in some more money for another improvement to keep quality tenants around.
  15. ^That's maybe not completely surprising. I know many of the new high rise apartment buildings in Chicago (which granted may also be due to their high rents) typically take over a year to be fully rented. I think only a portion of potential tenants will sign leases before a building is completed since move-in dates can be somewhat in flux and people would prefer to see the exact space they are renting and finished before committing to a lease. The fact that they are still working around the outside may also be a deterrent to other potential residents. We would be better judging the success of this development at the end of the year.
  16. At least in that case the bunker wall is facing the expressway where it's a little more justified.
  17. Actually the flush hollow core door and oak trim and cabinet aesthetic (at least in the stain color we see here) is more of a late 80s early 90s look. They've modernized it a little with the shaker cabinet and tall base boards. I kind of think this had to have been a conscious decision on someone's part because the standard today of white painted HDF trim and 6 panel composite doors would have been less expensive. But as we've seen for this entire project, the Castle is the masterwork of someone who has anything but mainstream tastes. And the grade of carpet that goes into rentals is much cheaper option than any other floor finish. And if a tenant destroys it, it's much easier to replace than any other floor. Plus it helps reduce noise transfer between units.
  18. Oh I get that the surrounding area may not have any sidewalks, that's a separate issue, and another reason why you would never see me living in an area like that (I have to get in my car to walk my dog?). But it seems like at home, someone should be able to at least go outside without having to walk through the parking garage. In the site plans for this project there are townhouses surrounding it on all sides built in later phases. So if any of those people have friends in the castle there is no nice way for them to walk over there?
  19. It's certainly an interesting project to look at, but the developer seems to have been caught up more with form-making and the outward appearance from afar, and doesn't have much experience making spaces that are actually comfortable to live within. I'd be particularly bothered by how small the windows are in all of the units. Each bedroom comes with what looks like one 30"x60" window and each dining room-living room-kitchen space get just 2 of those windows. Even on the corner units one of the bedrooms is put in the corner so the living areas still get less than 25 sf access to natural light. I also hope the grounds are going to get more landscaping, because that courtyard looks more like a prison yard right now. The terrace units aren't going to be very appealing if they open out onto a massive concrete expanse. The one's on the outside of the building look like they open right onto the top of the parking deck. Even the most basic of suburban apartment complexes usually have a landscape buffer between the parking lot and the units. Also, as someone pointed out a while back: how does one get into this building by foot? I see sidewalks surrounding the building the the flyover and a few pedestrian entrances into the sides of the parking deck, but where one would expect the main building entrance is in that sea of asphalt roundabout between the parking entrances. If that is the main entrance it seems like it would be perilous to try to walk there.
  20. ^^Real double hung windows tend to be rare in hotel and office buildings in the recent past because quite frankly the building owners don't want the users opening the windows at worst so they don't fall out of them and also for a range of reasons such as security and damage to interior finishes when nobody closes them and the way that open windows can mess with the building's climate control systems.
  21. I have a hard time believing the windows are a cost issue. They picked undivided reflective glass because they wanted to, because this sort of modern insertion in historic carcasses is on trend right now. Doing a simulated double hung, which adds one extra horizontal mullion and putting the glass in two different panes cannot cost that much more that it blows the whole project. Just as I said earlier that for the expense that they are already putting into these facades they could replace the CMU with brick and do simple arches for an extremely small change order compared to the total project budget. The missing rusticated sandstone arches would be more costly to replicate, but they could probably figure out something, even if it meant removing the last remaining one and doing them in brick.
  22. I think a reasonable brick match is that outlandish. We get reasonably close with our historic projects all the time. Bricks are still manufactured in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes. Missing stonework can be a different issue depending on what is being made. Missing limestone window sills isn't that big of a deal on the Monroe side. For split faced or ornamental pieces I have seen cast stone (concrete) pieces used instead reasonably effectively. For anyone doubting what is possible, take a look at the restoration of the Scott Mansion facade in Detroit: http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2017/10/james_scott_mansion.html I would personally prefer that since these buildings aren't painted, they not be painted (at least on the street facing sides). The brick will be much healthier that way, a little patina doesn't hurt.
  23. Based on what I am seeing in the photos, I'm pretty sure that they are building the bottom/second version. As was said up above, what is happening is not necessarily a seback in the building structure, but rather a thinner facade material on the top floor with the thicker brick cladding below.
  24. I think that has a lot to do with the strong horizontal emphasis of the contemporary cladding versus the mostly vertical emphasis of the historic facades. Plus combining the three together made for a wide squat building rather than the three individuals, which are each taller than they are wide on their principle facades. As someone who doesn't get to see these everyday, I'm always curious to check in on here and see how they are progressing.
  25. My guess is that the arched windows were too short for the rectangular windows they wanted to make on that floor. Thus it was easier to rebuild the entire top of the wall rather than try to re-support the window heads and parapet while they removed the arches. Alternatively, the top of the wall could have been in really poor shape and needed to be rebuilt. Building parapets are especially subject to deterioration from water and wind.
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