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orulz

Zona Lofts, Zona Village, Chrysler Building

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Looks like Zona Lofts has it's website up:

www.zonalofts.com.

Wow, a design. Next to (maybe) Greenbridge in Chapel Hill, this is the most eye-popping urban architecture I've seen proposed for NC yet. The rendering isn't very detailed, but I think I love it. Very fun design. Hope it doesn't turn too many people off. I wish they had provided more context (the buildings & hills in the background behind, for example. The contrast between the new building and the old Chrysler building is both astonishing and interesting. It's modular construction, which is totally OK, but you can definitely tell by looking at it, so I'm not quite sure how I feel about that from an architectural standpoint. But that makes it affordable - which is awesome.

From this rendering, I'm Not sure I quite understand what's going on in the ground floor of the new building. Is that retail? The website says there will be an internet cafe and a small bandstand. Looks they have an entrance to the parking deck on Coxe to the far right. Why put that on the front of the building instead of the alleyway behind the lot? (Collier Ave.) Guess that's not too bad, though.

Coxe Avenue is a street with a lot of potential, but as you go south of Hilliard it starts to feel seedy. This project will definitely change that.

post-823-1163698807_thumb.jpg

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Color me impressed. Especially if they keep that color scheme. For some reason, blue always seems to go well in an urban setting.

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I think the blue stripes on the side of the building are solar panels - given that the website advertises this building has solar power, and that the stripes are on the south face of the tower. Far as I know, solar panels don't come in anything besides blue.

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Here are the minutes from the September 7th Downtown Comission meeting where this project was presented. The project has been revised since then and went before the DTC again on November 10, 2006 so I'm not sure how these comments apply today.

FORMAL REVIEW

Zona Lofts - new construction and renovation

Conabeer Chrysler Building

Mr. Glines presented the DDR staff report for this project. He explained to the Commission that this

project was still under formal review; that it had been continued from last month

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Great -- looks like it's officially a go. Now, if we can just get the Ravenscroft project approved, good things will be happening.

Asheville, quaint? My ass. I really hate that word, and I wish the people who keep moving here because it's "quaint" would go find someplace that really is quaint and leave us alone here.

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The person who said quaint may have moved from L.A. or Miami. To them, it is quaint. Although I agree, if they want quaint, at least our definition, they're in the wrong place.

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"Quaint" is Asheville's mortal enemy. I hope the downtown hippies don't catch word of the city being described this way, or else they'll be rioting in the streets and looking to set fire to any place daring to sell lace or porcelain dolls.

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Indeed. I don't get it. These people think that blocking everything over five stories will magically allow them to escape from the ever-advancing tide of development and progress, into a magical snow-globe of boutique indie coffee shops and preservational warm-and-fuzziness.

The truth is, Asheville is DEFINED by buildings in the 10-story-plus range. City hall. Jackson building. Battery Park. The (never constructed) Grove Arcade tower. This person who moved to Asheville because they like how everything is four- and five- stories is living in a world completely seperate from reality - because, by that logic, they shouldn't have even moved to Asheville in the first place!

Thank God that city council knows not to listen to the sort of NIMBY that contradicts himself so readily like this.

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Well, at least they listened this time, so the Zona Lofts will be going up fairly soon I imagine. The NIMBY vitriole was a bit more bitter with the Ravenscroft project. Makes me worried. Do you think the quaintmongers will be able to shut that one down?

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No, I don't think the NIMBYs will get Ravenscroft entirely shut down. At least some of the phases are likely to get developed. More on that in the thread...

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asheville has done it again... i LOVE the looks of zona. the red square in the center-ish part of the building has me feeling all post-modern. it makes me think of de stijl... i love the fact that the black mountian college energy still resonates through these haunted hills.

i think i'll drink a glass of wine and do the robot, in honor of this project.

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Looks like Zona has been redesigned:

zonasmall.gif

I don't quite get what's going on in this rendering. It's just an elevation so maybe I'll reserve judgement, but it looks like it went from something funky, cool, glassy, and modern, to something rather resembling a towering mausoleum built in the 1960s, made of EIFS and brick veneer. The rendering also makes it look like it's grown from 13 stories to 17 or 18 stories.

Sigh.

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Counting the number of floors on the floorplans diagrams, it still tops out at 14 floors. It's ugly as sin now though, for certain. If developers keep up this bait-and-switch crap, I can really begin to understand the average Asheville NIMBY.

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Should I send this email? I was stewing over this apparent redesign and cooked up this email. Before I sent it though I figured it might be a wiser idea to run it past some other opinions.

---

Dear Sir or Madam,

I'm writing in regards to what appears to be a drastic redesign of the Zona Lofts building. I supported this project and fervently hoped the city would approve its construction although now I cannot say the same after having seen newer renderings of this building.

What happened? The building as proposed would have been perhaps the only quality piece of modern architecture in Asheville, whose modern buildings are graceless, hostile boxes. Now it appears the Zona Lofts have been redesigned as a graceless, hostile box to blend in with all the others. Frankly, the rendering at www.zonalofts.com now appears to show a cheap 1960's college dormitory. I note there was an attempt made to make the building palatable by adding clownish and tacky colored panels on the lower floors, but frankly that's just insult to injury.

The previous design made me excited to see this project go up, and I'd even considered looking into acquiring a unit. I've changed my mind now though. The Zona Lofts as newly designed is too ugly for me to want to have anything to do with. For those of us who support downtown development, when firms like yours present a wonderful rendering and then quietly mutilate that concept into something as hideous as the new Zona Lofts, it's very difficult to justify our support of growth to other area residents who want no new downtown construction at all.

You should be ashamed of yourselves for getting area urbanists' hopes up with the old design and then crushing them with this horrible new design.

Sincerely,

Me

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I say go ahead and send it. I sent an e-mail to them, too.

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Hi,

Just thought I'd express my opinion.

I don't care for the new design of Zona Lofts. The first one was glassy, modern, funky, and.. just cool. From the rendering, the new one looks more like a towering mausoleum of brick veneer and EIFS, with a 1960s-era public works building stacked on top. It went from a coherent, striking, and modern motif, to something jumbled up, and in my opinion, second rate. What happened? Is it just that the new rendering doesn't do the building justice and I'm confused? Or did feedback push you towards a more "conventional" design with "conventional" materials?

I wish you'd change it back.

Thanks,

[me]

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Those beotchs. This is the email I got in response to the one I sent them:

---

Dear [Me],

Thank you for your feedback. The rendering on the website is to show an example of the materials being used on the building. Those are not necessarily the colors that will be used. These materials are, in fact,

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Got the exact same reply. Must be a form letter.

EIFS is more sustainable than glass? Better insulation, sure, but the damn stuff falls apart and looks like hell so fast it makes may head spin. The tiny porthole windows and the absurdist architecture make me want to vomit.

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I thoroughly enjoyed Orulz' and Haunted Head's letters to the developer... (what's that spiral thing on the roof? whipped cream on top?)...but I wonder if such constructive criticism ever makes its way to past the PR person to the design team.

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I also think it is interesting that they have eliminated all references to LEED certification. It seems that they are following the trend for Asheville developers to announce a LEED certified project for preleasing, but never follow through. I have noticed several projects tout LEED and even enter the project into the LEED database.

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I wrote an angry letter to the editor referencing this change, in addition to expressing my unhappiness with the blandness of the Pack Square Park plans. Dave Russell, editor of the letters page, emailed be back to ask about the changed design, and forwarded me another email he had written to one of the writers. A story about the changed design is due to run soon, and as it turns out, the new design will have to go back before the downtown commission. I would think I'm not alone in hoping they refuse to approve such an ugly building.

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New article in the C-T about this project, focusing on the Chrysler Building renovation:

Something old becomes something new and green

The 79-year old building is getting rehabbed in 'green' garb, including a green roof, and an innovative HVAC system. Wonder if they're going for LEED certification?

Also mentioned is the plans for Zona Lofts next door. The original plans called for a 13-story modular building, but those plans fell through; the developer considered going up to 20 stories is now looking in the 15-story range. I don't demand revolutionary or ground-breaking architecture (the scrapped modular design was both revolutionary and ground breaking) but I do hope they come up with something better than the monstrosity they have pictured on their website:

zonasmall.gif

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What's painful is that that's the rendering at www.zonalofts.com. The architectural firm is still showing the drawings that got everyone excited.

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