Water Street design contest winners!

The results are in for the City sponsored design contest for the Water Street parking lots, and here they are, courtesy of the Charlottesville Community Design Center:

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First Place: Little, Charlotte, NC
Team Members: Bo Sun, Michael Baujan, Chad Lukenbaugh, Ryan Fujita

Jury Comments: Of all the submissions, this design emerged almost immediately to the jury as the winner. The jury felt the design did a good job of addressing the massing of the buildings, balancing the need for density to meet the financial expectations of the project with the existing scale of the surrounding buildings, while also providing good solar access for interior spaces and a strong streetwall on Water Street. The jury also favored the treatment of the civic space and City Market, feeling that it was complementary to Charlottesville's downtown pedestrian mall, without trying to replicate it. As juror David Baker said, "This would create an exciting space on First Street. I can imagine people meandering through the site, especially on market days."

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Second Place: James Huemoeller + David Malda, Charlottesville, VA
Team Members: James Huemoeller, David Malda

Jury Comments: This design breaks the buildings into a finer grained architecture that the jury felt was an excellent response to the existing scale of the surrounding buildings. While this design may not be as financially realistic as other submissions, the density offered in this scheme is probably close to that preferred by the general public. The inclusion of a mid-size (30,000 square feet) grocery store in the concept, while difficult to bring to reality, is a nice effort to bring this much needed amenity to downtown Charlottesville. The treatment of the varied topography of the site is also a strong point of this design, including the clever pedestrian bridge that crosses First Street as an alternate entrance to the grocery.

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Third Place: Speranza Architecture, Barcelona, Spain

Team Members: Philip Speranza, Kathryn Hilton, James Middlebrook

Jury Comments: This unique submission allows for diagonal movements across the site that is a playful alternative to the traditional city street grid. The ambitious site plan and organic quality to the architecture stood out to the jury as an attempt to create a special destination that would be a place to stop, not to travel through. As juror Brian Hogg noted, "It is a modern piazza that would be a pleasant surprise to a first time visitor."

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Honorable Mention: James Dayton Design, Minneapolis, MN
Team Members: James G. Dayton, Angela Varpness, Jenna Quirk, Scott Elofson, Patrick Regan

Jury Comments: This scheme revealed the possible benefits of taller and thinner buildings as opposed to the current restrictions in Charlottesville's zoning code. Its slightly industrial architecture is appropriate for the Water St. location. It also offers numerous building types that respond well to the surrounding context, from the more massive east side of the site to the smaller, older buildings on the west side.

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Honorable Mention: The Folsom Group LLC, Charlottesville, VA
Team Members: Jim Duxbury, Richard Price, AIA

Jury Comments: This concept offers a rational approach by moving the major buildings to the four corners of the site and would ease the transition between the mall, Water St. and across the tracks. The team's description of how the development of the site could be built by various developers and architects in multiple phases showed a strong grounding in reality. As juror Jair Lynch commented, "This is a scheme that could probably be built." The jury also appreciated the strong Second Street East corridor, which could be a catalyst for further development across the railroad tracks. While some questioned placing the taller buildings on South Street, it was agreed that this would give spectacular views to the south-facing residential units in these buildings.

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People's Choice Winner: Little Rhino Studio, Charlottesville, VA
Team Members: Bob Anderson, AIA, Lindsay Howe, Kris Huisinga, Dustin McCracken, Shiho Nishiyama, Julie Ulrich

Public Comments:

"Provides a great balance between civic and residential/retail space."

"I like the fact that the design is practical and welcoming, but retains a "Charlottesville-type" feel."

"This is the most complete project that is a perfect fit for the city of Charlottesville."

"Great cohesion of history, conservation and productivity to bring to the area."

"I love how much this project takes Charlottesville's history and the environment into account."


Now that everybody feels good, what's next? If the city wants to waste more money, why not have design contests for every piece of vacant or "under-utilized" property within its borders? Start with W. Main, then do Preston then jump over to Cherry Avenue. OR, even better, let's really have some fun and re-do the east end of the downtown mall in an annual re-design contest. If we up the prize, we could get submissions from almost every country in the world! When Mayor Brown presents the awards at the next council meeting (the City should foot the bill so that each entrant is in attendance), I hope he will tell us what the city has learned from this exercise.

As usual, lots of dreamy planning, no action. This will never be built.

I think the first goal for the city council should be to get the clock working on the flower kiosk thing at the center of the mall. I've been waiting a decade for that major undertaking.

Damn, I read wrong. It looks like it's really $50,000 that the mayor decided to waste on this.

I think a great addition to any of those plans would be public stocks where we could through rotten produce from the city market at petty criminals. David Brown ought to be the first to get that treatment.

Handing over $25,000 of other people's money ought to bring a huge smirk to Mayor Brown's face. Making meaningless proclamations and wasting money seem to be his idea of what a mayor does. That and smirking a lot.

I certainly hope some other tax paying citizens will be there with me to wipe the Mayor's smirk off with questions about why the city would waste such an astronomical amount of money on such a worthless project. Don't forget that quite a bit was paid to the CDC to "manage" the competition too. There are too many real problems that C'ville needs to solve that aren't being addressed. All that money could have gone to something meaningful.

During the last drought, I kept hearing the phrase, "If it's Brown flush it down." Couldn't be more apt this time around. Maybe we will get some real leadership from the next mayor.

Ummm...the city does not own half of this land. The city can plan all they like, but they have zero right to develop these plans.

Nice...I like the openness of being able to get natural sunlight into the design. It sort of has the Brickness of this city so I bet it goes over well with the local government design boards. It seems if it isn't made of bricks it just isn't Charlottesville enough. But maybe that's just me.
I like the overall look of it, and it should fit right into the current downtown look that is taking hold and what has been developed so far. Don't get me wrong, it's not that bad!

Outskirts Guy, I've heard that, after going through the Board of Architecture Review's review, the kiosk eventually cost the city $75k. It has proven to be as useful to the tax payer as the contest. Maybe somebody just needs to plug it in somewhere - perhaps in Albemarle County. I'll let you know on your blog if I ever catch it running.

Well...as the locals say, seems as if I stuck a cigarette down my throat - since the clock is now working. My guess is that they did try that modern approach and plugged it in (after having spent all that money).

Since the clock is running (at least for the day), I suggest the city now spend $75k to change the sign on the mall that says Subway. It points to the location that is now occupied by the 4minute workout, where Subway was three years ago.

How long does it take to change (or even just remove) the sign? How long would it take to build an entirely new section of downtown? You do the math.

Outskirts and Cville Eye,
The city can and does get things done in a timely fashion. It really hasn't taken that long for them to spend $400,000.00 of taxpayers money on the new playground at McGuffey Park.

Kevin Cox, I wonder if the $18,000 worth of rain barrels at the "Urban Garden" ever caught any rain. I understand that we only had .5" of rain in September. I did have some mist yesterday that may have condensed in them. I wonder if they ever produced $18k worth of produce there. I wonder if the new Storm Water Management fees/taxes will provide all of us with rain barrels. I wonder if the $400k upgrades at the new Tonsler Park is finished. I wonder if the $200k worth of sign replacement is finished. I thought I saw the blue-painted brown signs still downtown. Have they hired the new Customer Care person and his staff of ten yet? I believe the $15k Whale Tail will self-destruct soon in a sustainable, "green" way. How much will it cost the city to landfill? I wonder how much Council wants to spend on new clinic for city employees. I wonder if anybody else is wondering about these things.

The "management" fee was reported to be $103,000.