The Revised Harold’s Square

12 04 2013

Two things. One, noting that it is not Harold Square, but Harold’s Square. Well noted.

Two, as shown by the Ithaca Times, the proposed design has been revised. And in the opinion of one armchair architecture critic, it has gone from meh to hideous.

haroldsrevised2 haroldsrevised1

For reference, the old renderings. Now, I thought the original design for the Commons side was fairly okay. The revised proposal…it looks grim, the “modern” steel sections are like tumors growing out of a rather cold and dour facade. The exposed truss on the tower portion is gone, but now there are narrow misaligned slit windows. Reminiscent of Cascadilla Hall. Or a prison. Or most closely, the rather awful 499 South Warren Street in Syracuse.

Don’t get me wrong, I like what the project provides – mixed-use, high-density, downtown-friendly. But unless the materials are mind-blowing, I fear this thing is going to age terribly.

News Tidbits 10/25/12: Harold Square Is Big, Boxy and…Big.

25 10 2012

Well, if I have any right to brag…I’m just going to leave this here. At least I have proven that I’m fairly good at what I write about.

Now, onto what’s actually important. This project is massive. There are few private non-institutional buildings to compare it to in Ithaca. Seneca Place is about as close as one gets dimensionally, but that building is retail, with office and hotel on the upper levels. Harold Square, with its $30 million price tag, will have 60 to 70 apartments, 126,000 sq ft of office space, and retail on the ground floor. At 11 floors and~135 feet, it is a rough tie with the other tallest non-campus building in the county, Titus Tower. As previously mentioned, a building that size would need a zoning variance.
The building would be situated on the Commons, and remove three under-utilized structures (red box): the former Race Office Supply Building, the Night and Day Building, and the former Harold’s Army-Navy Store between them. The developers’ father ran the Army-Navy store for over 30 years and renamed it after himself; and this is from which the project gets its name. The Home Dairy and Benchwarmers¬† (technically, the Sage Block and W.H. Miller Buildings; yellow box below) would be preserved and renovated.

The Commons Side of the building will be four stories of office, more conservatively designed to fit in with the other Commons structures. It’s fairly standard glassy box with a brick veneer, adding some interest by making the middle third 3 floors and the sides four floors. [Update 11/09] The low-res image below comes out of The Ithacan.

The other side…is something else. It would be easier to post renderings, but that’s not okay since the IJ became a subscribers-only site, and I’ll have to wait until a public/free outlet releases them. But I can offer one source – google “harold square ithaca”. The IJ was bound to let some image out for public eye, even if it isn’t for free access (Like with Cascadilla Landing, as soon as free use images become available, I will put them up here). Edit 11/08: And thanks again to the Ithacan for this rendering:

It’s…well, to me anyway…it’s not pretty. It’s big, certainly. But it’s a bit…out of place in Ithaca’s downtown, in my opinion. The design is by Chantreuil, Clark & Jensen of Rochester, who mostly do renovations, but do seem to get their blood flowing with the occasional modern new-build (most of their clients appear to be higher ed; no surprise here). It’s a little more avant-garde than the other modern boxes planned, like the Marriott, Holiday Inn and Cayuga Green. And I don’t know how well a box with a gigantic metal overhang above its top floor will age, let alone a giant exposed metal truss on the southeast corner.¬† The Commons side is appropriate enough, but I don’t find the south side, with the tower, especially eye-pleasing. Probably because it has misaligned windows, it’s already on my crap list. But, as anyone who’s followed this blog is aware, I’ve never been a huge of modern architecture. So, to each their own.

So, with regards to a time frame, the developer is looking to have the Commons side completed by summer 2014, and the tower at some date thereafter. The developer plans the construction of the building to coincide with the reconstruction of the Commons. That’s assuming it jumps through all the variances it needs, and the Planning Board appreciates modern architecture. If Collegetown Terrace was any indicator, this will not be the final design, so it’ll be worth seeing how this evolves before final site approval is granted.