« (Updated) Gerding/Edlen and Goodmans Plan Building for Popular Smart Park Site | Main | USA Today Cover Story FeaturesPortland and South Waterfront »

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Frank Dufay

Thanks for keeping us posted, Brian.

mike conroy

ditto!

ws

Today I talked to somebody who sat through the entire July 20th Design Commission meeting, during which commission members listened to viewpoints from people opposed to the design, followed by those in support of it. I did not hear the commissions final words on the case for that day, as I felt the need to leave after the third repetitively self congratulatory testimony in support of the project.

Of the three in support of the design that I listed to, testimony centered on the development teams retention of the Carriage House to its traditional location, and the restoration it will receive, rather than comments related to crucial aspects of the tower design as it potentially stands to affect the neighborhood and the Park Blocks.

Person I talked to said that successive speakers with testimony in favor of the design followed suit with the first three until the commission found it necessary to tell the development team to confine their comments to the design of the tower, which the commission continues to have reservations about, rather than in regards to efforts to preserve the Carriage house, which the commission is generally satisfied with at this point.

Despite the development teams’ claim to the effect that buildings facing the Park Blocks are not required to employ setbacks in their design, the commission, according to the person I talked to concluded their meeting by unanimously advising the design team to incorporate setbacks in the tower design as it faces Park Ave as a condition of commission approval of the design.

I don’t have the specific city code numbers cited by the commission, supporting their argument, but aparrently the codes and the commission’s authorization permits them to advise the team as they did.

Those reading who haven’t seen artist renderings of earlier designs for the tower than the one presented at the meeting, might enjoy taking a look at those to be found on the following link for skyscraperpage:

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=88332&page=5

Personally, I probably mostly favor the one on post #109 of that page for its tower setback, L-shape and Park Ave courtyard entry, though it doesn’t leave sufficient space between tower and Carriage House. As subsequent designs were produced, you can see how they were volumized for increased rentable space at the expense of the Park Blocks and overall appeal of the building.

Of course, none of the designs illustrated indicate any effort made to explore incorporating the Rosefriend Apartment building into the project. Even if such an idea was considered to be wildly fantastic and improbable, it seems a mistake not to have at least drawn something up to look at. After all, how much would that have cost?

ws

Nice bit of action by grass roots people in regards to the Ladd Tower, as reported by some of the skyscraperpage crew. It's on the Ladd Tower thread. The following link they've provided in a comment there:

http://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2006/08/dis_grace.php

....tells about postering some people have done in regards to the tower, and the Rosefriend.

I hate seeing the profanity what with the church involved in the project. At least somebody is continuing to say something about possible events looming in the near future.

dfriedman

On Tuesday, the Design Review Commission staff recommended approval of the revised Ladd Tower proposal and of a Central City Master Plan that would authorize the transfer of FAR that the developers requested.

The developers have made what seems like a purely cosmetic modification consisting of an additional 7-foot setback on the Park Blocks side of the Tower. I haven't been over to the Design Review Commission office to look at the developers' submission yet, but 7 feet strikes me as a meaningless and purely token concession given the concerns the Commission expressed about the immense height and mass that the building will concentrate on the Park Blocks and the extent to which the building will be out-of-scale with with the 3,4, and 5-story buildings that surround it.

The modification is described and justified in the staff report as follows: "The tower pulls back slightly (7 feet) from the Park block frontage above the 3-story stone base, enough to create a useable and
residentially-scaled outdoor terrace at the 4th floor. Although the larger setback is still from Broadway, the more business-district oriented site edge, the terrace created at that edge will provide a setting for public gatherings. The west setback will offer a better transition in scale from the lower, older buildings lining the Park to the tower, and will better protect views along the Park blocks, such as of the Oregon Historical Society tower. The tower height has also been reduced (to 240') along the west by pulling the louvered mechanical enclosure off the northwest building corner and locating it in the center of the building's roof area... The amount of proposed floor area on the RX-zoned half of the site may only be reached through approval of a Central City Master Plan, but the location of the tower on the block will respond to the scale and quiet nature of the Park block frontage."

As I read the two staff reports, they dismiss--with almost no explanation--the points that the Bob Baldwin of the DNA and I and others made at the hearing about the zoning code's seemingly straightforward prohibition on transfer of FAR to the Park Blocks [Chapter 33.120.205.E.5.2: "Transfer of density or FAR to sites on the Park Block frontages shown on Map 510-13 are prohibited."] and about various planning documents over the years, such as the 1972 Downtown Plan, which states that any development in the South Park Blocks should be "compatible with existing buildings" and "in scale with the Park Blocks."

In light of the recent Allegro decision, in which Council repudiated an attempt to transfer FAR from a property in the Lloyd District to a site in Goose Hollow, it appears that there is heightened scrutiny on how developers are making use of FAR provisions. In addition, preliminary sketches for the Moyer tower (to be located on Columbia between Broadway and Park) show a design that puts all of the tower's mass on the Broadway half of the site. The Downtown Neighborhood Association continues to oppose the project as currently designed. These encouraging developments suggest that the struggle to protect the Park Blocks--having gone on for more than 150 years--continues.

Anyone is entitled to testify before the Design Review Commission. I would urge those of you who are concerned about preserving the integrity and aesthetic character of the Park Blocks to attend the hearing at 1:30 PM, Thursday, September 7, 1900 SW 4th. Avenue, Room 2500A.

P.S. It's worth reiterating that--as easy as it is for developers and the press to fall back into cliches about NIMBY-ite, anti-development cranks--everyone I know who is concerned about the Ladd Tower's effect on the Park Blocks happens to be a strong supporter of high-density, high-rise construction downtown but recognizes that the Park Blocks is the wrong place for such development for reasons that have been articulated at length earlier in this thread and elsewhere.

ws

6' is not much of a setback, especially for a building of that height. The Gallery Apartments design(Market and Park) consists of a succession of setbacks, each of which may be 5', for this building of I think, 5 stories.

Friedman, are you saying that the thursday Sept 7 meeting will just be for the purpose of receiving final testimony on the design and the passing of formal approval on staff's already established reccomendation?

If they approve, then an appeal to city council would the only recourse to those objecting to the design, correct? This must be a type III review. If I understand correctly, a lot of money would have to be put together even to make such an appeal.

The Goose Hollow neighborhood was able to make an appeal to the Allegro design. I wonder if the downtown neighborhood association would be able to manage that.

In light of the Allegro debacle, it makes one wonder how the Ladd Tower developers would steam ahead so arrogantly with their offensive and disharmonious design.

dfriedman

W.S. asked about the possibility of an appeal from the Design Review Commission's decision (to be made Thursday). Ordinarily an appeal would cost something like $10,000; however, neighborhood associations are entitled to a waiver of the appeal fee. So, if the Ladd Tower proposal is accepted on Thursday, the DNA Board will have to decide whether to go ahead with an appeal.

ws

Thanks for that info Friedman. I'm still trying to fathom the provisions relating to height limitations for buildings on the park blocks, and how the design review commission might factor this into their decision.

In this case, since the developer is borrowing FAR from other buildings on the same block, all owned by the church, some might not interpret the proposed height of the Ladd Tower as a problem.

It does seem as though an unresolved conflict exists between code provisions ensuring deference to the park and height variances provided by FAR, that the Design Reveiw Commision has not accurately addressed.

It sounds like a question of which of the two takes precedence, and in this case the park, the public domain would seem to seem to be the one that would take precedence.

So if the design commission finds itself unable to properly guard the integrity of the park by limiting improper height of this building as it faces the South Park Blocks, it might be well for the Downtown Neighborhood Association to take on the responsibility of making an appeal.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Lead Sponsors



Sponsors










Portland Architecture on Facebook

More writing from Brian Libby

StatCounter

  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad

Paperblogs Network

Google Analytics

  • Google Analytics

Awards & Honors