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dubone

Street level Hall of Shame

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Let's keep this discussion about buildings that are already built, because there is too much consternation about what the design really is for a few of the projects under construction. We can still (obviously) debate those in their own threads.

This is talk about which current buildings have the worst designs at the street level, taking away from the positive effect they might otherwise have on the city's urban fabric.

For me, the absolute worst offenders of designs at the street level are, in order of magitude:

Bank of America Plaza and Omni Hotel

- This building uses highly reflective glass that comes down onto the sidewalk, with no pedestrian focal points for almost entire block faces. The concrete blank wall on the College Street and 4th side facades are particularly bad. The architect involved in this project should be put in stocks at Trade and Tryon (I'm not kidding). Bank of America, as a highly involve civic corporation, should be ashamed of themselves for commissioning this building, and for consistently leasing the building without any requirements for the building owner to improve the street level. Additionally, Bank of America's own branch bank on Tryon Street is part of the problem. Even though this is technically street retail, the entrance is partially hidden, and the darkness/reflectivity of the glass completely eliminates any interest or benefit to pedestrians.

BB&T Building

- This building continues the awful South College Street pedestrian environment. It uses a strange set of planters that completely separates the sidewalk from the street, forcing pedestrians to walk under the building. There isn't any attempt to street retail, and instead the building owners pride themselves on the value of being the central part of Overstreet Mall, with a McDonalds (purveyor of foodstuff delivery systems for artificial and processed ingredients directly attributable to health problems and obesity).

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I don't know which one is the worst, but once I was to pick up a friend at Wach 2. Good that she was on the street waiting for us, because I couldn't even see where the entrance to the building was~~~seemed all walled off! yikes!

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BOA Plaza and Omni Hotel rank #1 for me as well. It's not even that they don't have street-level retail, they just plain ol' turn people off for the reasons dubone listed. By contrast, the First Citizens tower, while not incorporating street-level retail, is aesthetically pleasing at the street level, with the long, clear panels of glass and mini-planters between the "creases" of the building. I also like that it is diagonally oriented to the street and that the entrance is right at the sidewalk.

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Yes I have to agree about BofA Plaza. This was originally known as the NCNB Plaza and Radission Hotel complex. Interestingly there was a 3rd building around 25 stories or so proposed for this project that was never built. In any case it represents the worst of building architecture that attempted to build abstract art rather than a place that was good for humans. How many of knew there was a NCNB sign on the top of the building after it was completed. I am not sure when they took it down but it was before 1978.

The only thing that was interesting about it was the Grande Disco art in front of the building. Most Charloteans don't know this is a rather famous piece of artwork whose twin in Milan Italy is a big tourist attraction. I think the dis-interest is because the sculpture is lost in the sea of blue glass and pavement and tacky shopping mall water feature that was added years later in an attempt to "humanize" this area. BofA could do wonders for this area if they would open up the ground floor of this building for some shops that opened onto the square, put up some awnings or similar covers, and get rid of that horrible fountain and replace it with something more interesting. Put in a lot of places to sit down. This is urban design 101 stuff.

Sadly the mistakes made in this project were to be repeated over and over in downtown Charlotte, and mostly by BofA which has done the same thing on 3 corners of the square.

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The only thing that was interesting about it was the Grande Disco art in front of the building. Most Charloteans don't know this is a rather famous piece of artwork whose twin in Milan Italy is a big tourist attraction.

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yes it slowly rotated... some stooge stood within the rotation and was knocked over... the twirl was neutered for public safety.

should have chalked it up to a Darwin experience and left it alone.

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Keep in mind that BofA only leases the Plaza building, so they probably have little influence in proposed upgrades to the street level space.

With that said, I agree that there is not much going on at street level at either the Plaza or the Omni.

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Didn't this used to rotate? I seem to remember it was stopped because someone thought it was dangerous. I think you can still see the gears at the base.

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As I mentioned, Bank of America does lease the building, however, the value of that lease could easily have been leverage enough for the owner to make improvements. (The bank just signed a new lease late last year). The design of this building has ruined the brand of the Omni for me, and I will not be staying at an Omni for a while.

I have secretly been hoping that the condo tower at 4th and College would be actualized, just as the long planned condo tower at the IJL complex became the Avenue.

It would be easy for the Bank of America branch to improve, as they could simply open up a second entrance in the center of the Tryon facade, and do some focal entry point. The Omni (Radisson for metro ;) ) facade on Trade is also easy to change in parts. Close to College Street, east of the driveway entrance to the hotel, there are simply a couple of valet parking spaces that are empty most of the time. They could easily ask the city to add street parking in front of their building on Trade during the off hours, and do away with those 6-10 spaces, replacing it with a retail spot.

Also, I'm not sure whether it is just a matter of what is going on inside the glass, or whether it is different glass, but the bank branch on Tryon seems to have a dark brown color and is non-reflective when I walk by, so I can see in the branch, even though it is dark. However, the Omni Trade Street facade is always reflective, giving it that creepy 'is someone looking at me through this mirror' effect. If I wanted to look at myself when I'm walking down Trade, then I might like this building. But I don't.

I agree with the assessment of the First Citizen building. There was a moment when I might have put it on this list, but after thinking about it, the fact that you can look into their branch easily through the window, and the fact that they have the fairly attractive planter on the street helps redeem it slightly. It is still not great, but I wouldn't put it to shame over those two I listed, and a few others I left for others to list.

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I am not sure but I think it can still be pushed and made to turn.

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