Lot 5 drawings available to the public... in the Mayors Office

The Town of Chapel Hill now has some drawings that visualize the plans for the high-rise mixed-use development they are constructing downtown on parking lot #5, known as the Downtown Economic Development Initiative. In my opinion, this is a visionary project that has suffered from not having enough public input at the right times.

So how does the Town make this critical information available to the public? Oh, it's "on display" down at Town Hall. So those of you who work downtown or have a lot of free time during the day can stroll down to the Mayor's office and check it out. The rest of us will have to make due with looking at photos of the plans on the N&O and Herald web sites.

Would it really be too difficult for the Town staff to put these images online so we can examine them? I'm sure the files originate in a digital format in the first place. It would make it a lot easier for me to support this expensive project if I could understand it better.

And while I'm on the subject, I was also bugged to read this note on the OrangeChat blog: "Developers are starting to call the project "140 West."" At least they're not calling it The Franklin...


I am surprised that there hasn't any reaction to the design of this development.

My first guess that the institutional and unimaginative design was meant to contrast with the public art that will be installed on the site.  The "building block" look, that seems out of place with a Town that emphasizes its natural environment, will certainly make any outside sculpture look great!


Del Snow

You should work in PR. :)
The illustrations in the newspaper didn't look anything like the conceptual drawings as I remember them.

I hope the PR comment was a compliment!


How were the conceptual drawings different?


Del Snow

I hope the PR comment was a compliment!

It was meant that way, yes. I was sitting in front of my keyboard for several minutes trying to think of something equally witty to say, and failed.

On a different note, I'm curious what role council comments on the original concept plan played in shaping the design into what we're seeing now. I'll forego calling out anyone individually (partially because it's been so long I don't remember who to call out), but I remember distinctly attending a work session on this three years ago and being quite surprised at how many of the comments from council members were on specific preferences about architectural elements. It seemed odd to me at the time that so many of the comments were focused on stylistic elements and weren't more functional in nature. There was more concern for the color of the brick than what the compilation of those bricks might be shading nearby, more interest in the look of the windows than how those windows might allow for energy efficiency, etc. Admittedly I don't have much architectural background, but I seem to recall some concept relating form and function in quite the opposite order.

Love it or hate it, I wonder how much of the look of the concept plans represents incorporation of these comments.

I was just at Town Hall and found the drawings are actually in the hallway so you can see them after the Mayor's office closes (but before Town Hall closes, which depends on what meetings are going on). The drawings are so undetailed that there's almost nothing to respond to, but I made a little video with my phone which I will post soon at http://www.orangepolitics.org/optv

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