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Belk Place: Carolina Theater and Hotel Intercontinental

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It just feels like a slap in the face to "museum-ize" the old facade encased inside a glass lobby. It only makes the exterior look even more plain by comparison and screams "Charlotte will never do architecture like this again, this is the best you're going to get". 

I know that's a matter of opinion and some prefer the sleek modern look to the attempt at classicism that was in the old rendering, but you can't deny that the street level experience looked 100x better with that plan. This is another design that I'd be fine with in a lot of places, just not here. Another huge missed opportunity. 

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It just feels like a slap in the face to "museum-ize" the old facade encased inside a glass lobby. It only makes the exterior look even more plain by comparison and screams "Charlotte will never do architecture like this again, this is the best you're going to get". 

I know that's a matter of opinion and some prefer the sleek modern look to the attempt at classicism that was in the old rendering, but you can't deny that the street level experience looked 100x better with that plan. This is another design that I'd be fine with in a lot of places, just not here. Another huge missed opportunity. 

Funny you mention the museum-izing of the facade.  That was exactly what I thought when I saw it.  Museum-ized inside a lobby no less.

I agree, a huge opportunity shot to hell.  I would probably not care if this was elsewhere, but here it's just awful.  

I will remind everyone that the city turned down two other developers that offered to buy the property for hundreds of thousands of dollars and instead chose  to award it to FFTC for one dollar.  And now look at what we get.

I wonder if FFTC had something like this in mind all along and just released the previous renderings to wow the city into accepting their bid.  

 

Edited by cltbwimob
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I guess I am one of the few who don't hate this design scheme.  I mean, the classical design that was previously illustrated, but I doubt the final product would have looked as good as that rendering.  I actually believe if it had been designed and built in that manner, a lot of people would be upset at the cost effective actions that would've been taken.  I think this glassy version does a decent job of trying to highlight CT while also showing the mixed use of the lot.  Could it be done better?  Sure.  But are we going to gripe about this when South End looks an explosion of beige?  I would hope not.  

Not settling, but putting into perspective.  

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Could it be done better?  Sure.  But are we going to gripe about this when South End looks an explosion of beige?  I would hope not.  

Not settling, but putting into perspective.  

I think this is very worthy of griping if anything is. We should be holding any development or redevelopment of a prominent corner on Tryon to the highest standard, especially when the idea is to honor a significant bit of local history. Even if we forget the classical design as a what-could-have-been, and assume they were always going to go modern, this is repeating the mistakes of the Founders Hall renovation, where most businesses are interior-facing, accessed from one primary entrance and giant sterile lobby that is uninviting and something to be walked by hurriedly on the street. It's not inviting; it puts up a physical and mental barrier between the public and the Carolina Theater, making it look less like a civic amenity and more like the entrance to a theme park ride as you're waiting in line.

I showed it to a coworker and they said "it looks about as authentic as the New York New York Casino in Vegas". Ouch. 

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Either way there was/is going to be a giant lobby on the corner, whether that's behind a stone (precast concrete) wall with arched windows or a glass facade the use of space doesn't change. If they got rid of retail that would be a different story.

I think Sidney Harman Hall in DC is a good example of a theater lobby/space with a large glass curtain wall that engages the street relatively well.  

 

 

Sidney-Harman-Hall1.jpg

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I showed it to a coworker and they said "it looks about as authentic as the New York New York Casino in Vegas". Ouch. 

That is exactly what went through my head when I saw it!

Ouch, indeed.:angry:

Edited by Silicon Dogwoods

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I don't hate it.  It's bad, don't get me wrong; but I think I think it's bad because I saw the initial renderings that blew my face off.  Had I not seen that, I probably would have thought "oh, cool, modern, yet encapsulating the historic parts...I can dig that!"

but because I've seen that rendering, I'm just sad at what it has become.

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Just got off the phone with a friend working on this project, and I feel a little better. These renderings are meant to represent the building, not its surroundings. They are not showing how it will interact with the street. The trees remain, the softscape and hard scape remains, benches, etc. high quality materials, and high quality finishes. Going to be as awesome as the Knight Theatre. They pretty much felt it could never look as authentic as they wanted and this was the best direction. Showcasing the history and paying homage to the past with cutting edge design.

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Just got off the phone with a friend working on this project, and I feel a little better. These renderings are meant to represent the building, not its surroundings. They are not showing how it will interact with the street. The trees remain, the softscape and hard scape remains, benches, etc. high quality materials, and high quality finishes. Going to be as awesome as the Knight Theatre. They pretty much felt it could never look as authentic as they wanted and this was the best direction. Showcasing the history and paying homage to the past with cutting edge design.

Also, the interior will have a ton of art on the walls and paintings. It will in not be all blank. I feel better about it overall as well.

Edited by Jayvee
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Charlotte is one big glop of 2005-era architecture--and the Carolina Theater will be as well.

That's all going to look incredibly dated in 20 years, just as 1970s-era architecture was horribly dated by the 1990s.

I'd prefer that planners and developers build timeless architecture: neo-Classical, neo-Renaissance or even Colonial.  CPCC's campus near uptown is an excellent development, since its architecture will not really be dated and it fits in well with Charlotte's history.  It gets an A; the glass/brick boxes elsewhere all over town get a C.

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^^^Agreed.  Here in Richmond, we have countless examples of classical architectural styles (First National Tower, Hotel John Marshall, Main Street Station, Altria Theater, etc.)  Some of these buildings are well over a century old and look better than ever.  Even though some say we shouldn't try to copy those bygone eras of architecture because it will look forced and out of context, in 100 years it will look just as grand as the buildings here in Richmond do today. 

We should be designing buildings, especially civic venues, to look good for centuries rather than designing them to look good until the next fad in architecture comes along, and the Carolina Theater redevelopment is no exception.

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Even if this plan isn't the worst thing ever, I thought it was one of the very few realistic opportunities for a redevelopment that actually would pull off an authentically classic look and street presence. Something that is a pipe dream for most projects but actually seemed feasible and made sense here. It sounds like they tried, but when they say it couldn't be as authentic as they wanted, I take that to mean it couldn't be as authentic as they wanted within the budget. 

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Let's panic!

Cute.  We don't need to panic, but we do need to reflect on what type of architecture will result in Charlotte remaining beautiful in 50 and 100 years.

2005-era boxes won't do it, just as 1970s-era cement junk didn't do it, either.  Remember how the Ivey's store at SouthPark was supposedly the most amazing, with-it store ever, until its 1970-era concrete grew out of style, for example?

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Exactly. We can still build classic architectural styles. Just because it wasn't built in the 1920s doesn't mean it can feel authentic. It happens all the time in other cities... just not here for some reason.

 

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I'm gonna play devil's advocate:  The Neo-Classical look can also be quite monotonous.  Look at UNC Charlotte and their awful building design.  Plus, we are talking about a mid-rise to hi-rise style building, not a 4 story academic building.  Not to mention that a lot of neo-classical designs are expensive to implement and maintain.  The majority of such designs that I know of are condo or apartment buildings that are made of high quality materials, but also are insanely expensive. I would love for some classic architecture to be built in this city, but there is a reason it fell out of favor in the mid-century.  It's just not an efficient design scheme at such a large scope, and you can blame NOVARE for making concrete and glass an even more efficient design method.  

I also think that panicking because the outside has glass is a foolhardy jump.  The inside is going to be renovated back to it's original glory.  I think this is one of the best projects in the city at this moment, and I trust FFTC to do a noble job.  

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It might end up being really cool once it's all said and done.  At least it'll be unique for us.  The initial render we saw was so exciting, but i'm not "against" this render by any means.  I like it.  

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I was most excited about this project for the idea that it would continue an older style.   Part of the allure of simpler modern designs is much lower cost.   So even though we have granite tiles under 3/4 of our toilets gently bathing in splashback, we can't seem to get stone building façades any more.  Robotic 3D carvers make any shape architectural object, and 3d printers do the same for casting objects cheaply and quickly, yet ornamental building façades are some how unheard of now. 

 

In some ways, I might be excited about this design if it were put out there initially and our expectations remained low.  But with the traditional architecture that seemed to be planned for so long being swapped for something all of us could do on sketchup in an afternoon is a bit frustrating. 

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I'm gonna play devil's advocate:  The Neo-Classical look can also be quite monotonous.  Look at UNC Charlotte and their awful building design.  Plus, we are talking about a mid-rise to hi-rise style building, not a 4 story academic building.  Not to mention that a lot of neo-classical designs are expensive to implement and maintain.  The majority of such designs that I know of are condo or apartment buildings that are made of high quality materials, but also are insanely expensive. I would love for some classic architecture to be built in this city, but there is a reason it fell out of favor in the mid-century.  It's just not an efficient design scheme at such a large scope, and you can blame NOVARE for making concrete and glass an even more efficient design method.  

I also think that panicking because the outside has glass is a foolhardy jump.  The inside is going to be renovated back to it's original glory.  I think this is one of the best projects in the city at this moment, and I trust FFTC to do a noble job.  

I'm going to nitpick here. 

First, I absolutely agree that neo-classical can be monotonous - but too much of any type of architecture can be monotonous. You could make the same argument about Duke or Virginia Tech too. UNCC's issue, IMO, isn't one of style, it's one of scale and proportion. Their buildings are massive and despite their design, still feel very imposing to be around. Maybe that will change over time as the vegetation ages and the bricks wear in. 

I disagree that non-modern/contemporary architecture is inefficient. A clarification point is that "classical architecture" in the sense we are talking about is not always that "greek/roman" looking style. The Hearst Tower is a great contemporary example of art deco architecture that works at every level. It has a very good (though admittedly not great) street level on all sides (with retail a minimal lobby space), a great plaza in the front, it passes the eye test from all angles, and it's a very large office tower. It seems to meet all the demands of its tenants from a usability standpoint. 

Good urban design blends materials to create a well functioning and attractive space. Using only glass and steel finishing for EVERYTHING is boring and doesn't leave much room for anything imaginative or interesting. The problem in Charlotte is that we have too much of the modern glass look (at street level) and not enough of the other to offer a balance.

 

 

 

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Sorry jayvee, but I still disagree with your article. I would have much rather seen an exterior similar to the one shown in their original concept rendering. The fact that it's a lobby isn't the issue - it's that the façade design is garbage (all glass = boring), and I think it's a double insult to create a fake historic entrance within the glass lobby. When was the last time anyone walked by a lobby and thought "wow that's a nice lobby, I'm really glad I can stand out here and look in at it." I think the Blumenthal is actually a pretty good comparison here. It's mostly dead space except when there's an event, and the windows are frequently covered up with banners/ads for upcoming events.

Meanwhile - Charleston rebuilt it's theater - The Galliard Center - (UP thread here) and took it from a mid century modern style CF to an beautiful neoclassical building. The building is much larger than the Carolina Theater site, however, my point is that the building is brand new AND architecturally interesting. IMO, something like that would stand out in Charlotte as distinct. We have tons of glass lobbies... not so much in terms of architectural diversity. With the interior as awesome as it is, the exterior should try to live up to it - not 'contrast' it.

One question though- that hotel lobby on 6th seems really small. Is this one of those self-check-in hotels, or is it just access to a sky lobby?

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Sorry jayvee, but I still disagree with your article. I would have much rather seen an exterior similar to the one shown in their original concept rendering. The fact that it's a lobby isn't the issue - it's that the façade design is garbage (all glass = boring), and I think it's a double insult to create a fake historic entrance within the glass lobby.

I thought the original facade was saved and is being reused within the glass lobby?

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One question though- that hotel lobby on 6th seems really small. Is this one of those self-check-in hotels, or is it just access to a sky lobby?

Sky lobby above office floors.

Honestly, I think its pretty awesome that a hotel is committing to this project, despite the lack of parking. The Knights couldn't find a single person to take their hotel space, mostly because of parking.

I thought the original facade was saved and is being reused within the glass lobby?

Yep. Thats exactly what they are doing.

Edited by ricky_davis_fan_21
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Personally, I'm not too concerned with "keeping up" with towns that quite frankly are quite a bit Behind us. 

 

I think the project is a very nice project. They could've never replicated the historical look that we all originally wanted. If they did, I'm sure there would be complaints about the materials used. And also, it seems like this building will interact better with the street and be more active than the previous conceptual rendering.

 

the original rendering had a pretty facade, but the entrance looked much less inviting and active

 

 

Edited by AirNostrumMAD

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