Friday, March 6, 2009

CCHR Designs - my first take

I intended to go to the CCHR design presentations, but alas, a poorly timed flat tire and other car issues prevented this. The CCHR blog has the five designs posted, and I'll link to them as I go through the designs below. The AJC has some more info on the designs, as well.

I don't want to jump to judgment on any of these designs (although I will anyway - huzzah, blogging!), and I certainly wish I had the benefit of hearing the team's presentations. I am positive that missing the presentations will leave me with lots of gaps. Readers who attended are encouraged to correct me or provided added information. Or to tell me how wrong I am.

My first impressions:
  • The Moody Nolan / Predock design is really weird and I can't tell what is going on on the street-facing sides. From one of the comments on the CCHR blog it seems there is an 80 ft. wall facing Ivan Allen. Sounds concerning. I personally prefer my buildings to look like buildings and not earth mounds. I didn't originally intend to say that snarkily, but upon reflection I think I do...
  • The Diller Scofidio Renfro design is open and looks fairly dynamic, although that may just be the angle of the rendering viewpoint. I can't really tell what else is going on with the actual building, though, and how it interacts with the city. Not really enough to go on, but I like what I see.
  • There are some good things going on with the Freelon / HOK design. I like the use of terracotta - it makes the design feel a lot warmer than the others. I also like that it has a more urban feel than some of the others. I am not a huge fan of the cantilevered bit at the street corner, though, and the Ivan Allen facade seems a little harsh.
  • Even more cantilever action with the Huff + Gooden design, but without the warm terracotta action. Blech.
  • The Polshek Partnership, Cooper Carry, Stanley Love-Stanley team is pretty interesting. I like the exterior materials and the clean lines. The large vertical piece in the interior plaza reminds me of the Coke museum, though, and there is still more cantileverd action on the street side, although it doesn't appear as severe (not as tall and set back some).
Of course, there are many other reasons to choose architects, apart from building design. You want an architect that agrees with how you see the goals of the project so that you won't be fighting with them over the vision all the time. You also want an architect that does projects with a budget in mind - this isn't to say you want a cheap team (not at all), but it is a real concern that you want the architects to be aware of. You need an architect that gets stuff done on time, too, and has good working relations with your other team members. I could go on, but my point is simply that I suspect design is just one factor these judges are weighing.

If I had to choose one group right now, I'd probably go with the Freelon / HOK design. I think the interlocking pieces addresses a key problem/opportunity with the site, which is that the design has to address both Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., Centennial Olympic Park Drive, and the interior plaza going toward the Coke museum and the park. Most of the other designs focused too much on the park entrance, which is already a problem on Ivan Allen because the Aquarium did the same thing. The Freelon / HOK design addresses the challenge by giving the CCHR two public faces.

Also, I find the terracotta more inviting and more appropriate for the subject matter. I can't say exactly why, but I feel that a civil rights museum should have a warmer, more humane facade. Glass, steel, and marble can feel sterile and disconnected at times. Of course, the grass mound design is a bit too natural... That might be the only design I actively dislike, although Huff + Gooden comes close. I'm obviously not a fan of cantilevered buildings, despite my affection for the Atlanta-Fulton County Central Library.

So that leaves 3 of the 5 designs that I could be satisfied with, although I have to say that none of these designs get me very exicited at the moment. By comparison, the Calatrava Symphony design got me super excited, even if the site itself leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully this underwheming impression is the result of the limited time provided for the RFP.

Anyway, thats my take. I'm no expert, just a dude with a blog. Most of my opinions come out of my own aesthetic sense, and are quite subjective. I know there are Tech students who read this - what is y'alls take?

1 comment:

  1. My amateur vote is the Freelon / HOK Design just on my gut instinct.


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