Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Meridian Plaza II Renderings



Here are some new rendering of the Meridian Plaza II showing some different angles of the proposed tower. First of all, IMO this tower has got some weird design stuff going on. It appears that there is an attractive side as well as a bland featureless side. It appears that the attractive side with a curve and spire are facing south towards the alley. Why would the cool side face an alley? Where as if you look at the other side of the tower that facing north at 15th and K Street, the tower has a simple box design that doe's nothing to enhance the corner. K Street is the side where the cool curve of the building and spire should be facing. I think K Street deserves some love that this current design is not offering any, it currently doe’s nothing for intersection K Street and seems to forget about this corner altogether. It also appears that eight floors of the parking garage are exposed at 15th & K Street sides... how crappy is that?

Why are developers designing towers like this in Sacramento? Is it to save money on design? Or do they think no one will notice that a 300’+/- tower looks cheap when seen from the north? There are several other towers that have also been designed and built this way in downtown over the last 10 years and no one seems to care… I'll do a post about that later. What do you think?



26 comments:

wburg said...

Why have the cool side face the alley to the south?

Because the alley side will be the most visible from L Street, where the Capitol Garage/Beers Books (oop, I mean Ma Jong's and the Park) buildings certainly don't block the view. It also looks like they are trying to make use of the alley as the main building entrance, which makes a certain sort of sense. K Street between 14th and 15th is a one-lane access road, used primarily by delivery trucks after dropping things off at the Convention Center or the community center theater, or people who made a wrong turn. So I can certainly see why the K Street side is kind of de-emphasized.

The other main drive-by perspective, from the north on 15th, doesn't look so bad. There appears to be some street interface there, but it's a busy street much of the day and probably not such a good pick-up/drop-off point.

Zwahlen Images said...

There are plans in the works to build a tower where The Park and Ma Jong's are in the next 5 to 10 year, so the view will disappear. Also, in the rendering they don't have Meridian I visible; they don't even feature it except looking up L Street from a far. Meridian I is already built at 12 stories and will also hide the curved side facing the alley.

My point is that the design should not forget about the other sides of the tower. This tower will be just a visible if not more so from the north because this will be the tallest towers on the north/east corner of downtown.

Other towers in downtown that look like this are Fed Court House and Cal EPA Building on I Street as well as the under construction US Bank tower on Capitol Mall. All these are towers over 350' look horrible from the north.

Chris said...

zwahlen, Have you been West down K street at the intersection of 15th lately? It is obvious you did not scout out the local conditions very well. Nor did you do the math on the height comparison between MI and MII. If you had, you would realize the MII is roughly double the height of MI, there will be plenty of prime views of the capitol from the upper floors. Additionally, any future development in front of the building will be subject to the zoning code and capitol view requirements. This ensures there will be a view from the MII building for a while to come. Please do your research before making such baseless comments.

Anonymous said...

A few things on the south facade. First, it is the most viewed and so it has been treated as such. Second, the curve provides a sense of movement through the alley. Finally, the spire creates a grounding to the center of the alley, between MI and MII.
There is a crucial circulation axis that has been created through the ground floor of MI and the spire serves a termination of this axis.

If one were to look at the plans it is evident that the parti of this building is a cube engaged by two "L"'s. The proportion and scale of this move can be seen around the rest of the building in scaled down versions.

In reference to the comment about the MaJongs site: It will never and I mean never block the view of MII nor will it ever be a tower. The reason being is that by state law, the site is restricted to a height of 150'. And after the implementation of the "urban design guidelines" this structure will be held to an FAR that will prevent the blocking of the south elevation. Further more, it is far more realistic that anything built on that site will only be 5 - 6 stories at most.

I enjoy your excitement of development within our region, but suggest that you research a bit more before commenting on any development.

Zwahlen Images said...

Chris and Anonymous:
Yes, the south façade is the most viewed angle but it doe’s not mean the northern façades need to be ignored design wise. When Ma Jong doe’s get developed, it will be developed to it’s full potential which is 150’. Ma Jong’s is prime real estate that sits across from Capitol Park, why would a developer only build only 5 or 6 stories at this location? When the new mid-rise is built, it will block pedestrians views of the curve from L Street or any other angle on the ground unless you’re looking east up L Street or crossing over Pioneer bridge on Hwy 50.

Maybe I did not make myself very clear in my previous posts. I know Meridian II will be twice as tall as Meridian I, I’m aware that there will be prime views from the upper floors. My only hang-up is with the design… why is the northern sides bland and ignored while the southern side gets the fancy curve. A fancy curve could also be designed for the nothern side as well.

When I look down K Street from 16th Street on up I currently see the Enquire tower. If Meridian II gets built, I would also see this towers poorly designed side. I’m just asking for the Northern side to look as cool as the southern side, is that to much to ask?

This could be the fourth tower in the city to be built this way if built… and it’s a shame.

Thanks for chiming in guys

Anonymous said...

chris and anonymous, did you even read what Zwahlen wrote in his previous posts?

The north side needs some work and the exposed car garage sucks too.

wburg said...

The other consideration is money. I'd expect that a fancy curve costs more than a flat wall, and I know that an enclosed parking structure costs more than an open parking structure (due to ventilation requirements.) To me, the building doesn't look any less cruddy than most of the modern architecture I see going up pretty much anywhere, so personally I'm not all that sympathetic to your arguments--and, once again, the north side faces the Convention Center; who will see it?

Where are these plans to build something taller on the corner of 15th and L? Just because you *can* build taller doesn't mean that you *must.*

Zwahlen Images said...

Your perspective Berg is why this city continues to build mediocre architecture. If we never expect a better quality of design and hold developers to a higher standard, then expect more of the same.

It’s been reported in the past that a mid-rise would someday fill the corner where Ma Jong’s and the Park sit now. All you have to do is look at the current trend of developers who are building on L Street.. they are all maximizing the allowed height for this height restricted area.

Meridian Plaza I built 2003 at 150’
Marriott Residence Inn built 2007 at 150’
831 L Street, currently in Design Review Committee at 150’

wburg said...

zehwlan amiegs: That's not my perspective, just my interpretation. Developers always try to low-ball their architecture, building the cheapest builidngs they can in order to make the greatest profit. When anyone comments about the poor design or cheap-looking plans, they start crying about how "it won't pencil" if they have to make any improvements. Of course, what they really mean is that they won't make as much profit. The trick, then, comes with the public commissions and boards; that's why we have a Design Review commission. They can do a certain amount, but only so much. The current city staff seems to encourage development at all costs, and tend to be very non-judgmental when it comes to big projects in terms of how a building actually looks.

Public input is another factor: if there is a lot of negative public feedback about a building's appearance, changes might be made, although generally anyone who opposes anything about a building for any reason gets painted as an obstructionist NIMBY who wants Sacramento to remain a rural cow-town forever. Mentioning that your only objective is to make the building look cooler means nothing: it is interpreted as an attempt to nickel-and-dime the developer into the poorhouse.

That being said, I heartily encourage you to go to the public meetings about this project and encourage the developer and the board (ideally Desgin Review) to make the building look better.

And, personally, I don't think it's a great building but I don't see too many new buildings that I'd consider great.

Zwahlen Images said...

I do visit the Design Review Committee and write letters from time to time... but not all developers act this way Burg. 500 Capitol Mall is using marble for the entire exterior structure, they were not asked to do this… they did this on their own

Also, your spelling is awful. What's you're deal?

LivingInUrbanSac said...

I know the owners said that the Mason's / Ma Jong site would be eventual become something else (I think that is the best available realistic site for cool park views)..but I just don't see that happening for many, many, many years.

As for MII, the part I don't like is the garage. I like how 500 Capitol Mall hides the garage much better, at least on the CM side. The top 2/3's look fine. Nothing awe-striking, but not terrible. I just wish they could do something different with the lower portion.

Also, is there any commercial/retail space on the ground floor? I can't tell from the "Daytime Perspective Looking Southwest".

I saw that there's a public notice sign up on the site for the upcoming planning commission or design review meeting, but the latest meetings agenda aren't up yet on the city website to view the item. Seeing that would answer my question

wburg said...

zwhalen images: 500 Capitol Mall was originally supposed to have a mdoel of the Parthenon on the top too, until enough people said it looked ridiculous. Generally, the problem isn't actually the cost of materials, that's just the excuse the developer uses when they don't want to bother changing their design.

LIUS: Try the Velocity Hall tool:
http://www.cityofsacramento.org/dsd/reference/application-search/

Zwahlen Images said...

Thanks for being a class act Berg.

The Parthenon was awful, they were going to use lots of marble on that one too.

LivingInUrbanSac said...

Wburg - I use that quite a bit, but when I tried it in the past for this project not much was showing up...the latest file from 10/31 does have more info now though:

"Construct a 24 story, 300' high, 525,000 gsf office builidng with on-site parking (433 spaces, 222,786 gsf)and ground floor retail (6500 gsf). The project will have two sub-grade parking levels connecting to the Meridian Plaza I sub-grade parking via a tunnel under the alley."

Chris said...

While Parking podiums aren't the most "sexy" architecture it is something that is greatly needed downtown. Enclosing a parking garage is extremely expensive and honestly, I am sure the developer would rather spend the money up on the skin of the building. As Anonymous said in the beginning of these posts, the Parti is extremely important to this building. If you understand the Parti you will understand the decisions made on the design. It isn't that the North and West sides have been ignored, they fall into place with some very complex other details to make a handsome building if you ask me.

Design is very subjective, As has been stated earlier, the 500 CM property once had a parthenon on top. This kind of "Disneyland" Architecture is NOT desireable for Sacramento...through the public process that was changed. That is what makes our system great. Continue to voice your opinion, I just think you missed the boat on this one.

harv gsd said...

I want to put to rest the conversation on the north and east elevations, because they are one in the same.

What some see as bland is a lack of detail in the rendering. Some of the greatest design features on buildings now are the spacing of mullions within a curtain wall system. Cesar Pelli creates bland high rises, but he uses the spacing and proportioning of the curtain wall system to create an aesthetic. The same goes for Norman Foster's designs and Renzo Piano's.

Does this design respond to the site and views? Yes
Does this design tranform a service alley into a pedestrian plaza? Yes
Is the design properly massed and proportioned? Yes
Is this design far different from other proposals in the past? Yes

This project will hieghten the architectural aesthetic of our region. It is quite sad to hear opinions that do not realize large gestures are needed in high rise design. Small gestures do not read on a large structure, and there is no arguing this point (it is an accepted reality in the architectural world).

What this town does not need more of is 800J streets, or Kwan Henmi designed high-rises that that are a plug and play in Portland or Denver.

This town needs designs that respond to site issues appropriately, and that are regional in some sense.

cole said...

What's with the base of this building?

Is it a jail?

Looks to me like the bottom can be sand bagged in case some gangs try to break somebody out, then there are some open exercise floors and then about 20 floors of closed jail cells and then at the top, it seems to have some more open exercise courts...

I like it...

Anonymous said...

looks to me like the architect doesn't like you guys puttin in your two cents worth...

lol...

chris seems to be the harvard graduate school of design guy (hrv gsd) who designed this here building...works for a slicked back hairdo tall guy in SF, architect, who is loaded with daddy's warbucks...

now don't ya'll critize this here "parti" for it comes straight from God Amighty!

wburg said...

Well, all things considered, this building does look better than the buildings slated for J Street at 10th and 11th. I don't think those ones are going to look good from any direction...at least the Biltmore and the Copenhagen buildings are still beautiful on the alley side!

towerdistrict said...

Looks like the designers of Meridian II are big livinginurbansac readers!

This is really interesting to see a bunch of industry professionals bag on a citizen's opinions of a highly subjective design. It's also a bit strange to refer to a design as subjective, and to also explain the aesthetics as fundamental architectural law. But I guess the irony in design is that objective thinking can produce subjective results.

Harv, you're selling the design, not explaining it. Your points are interesting, but you don't have to bad mouth other firms to prove your point. Kwan Henmi's designs do every bit as much to the street level as you seem to think Meridian II does. But where Meridan II has a massive exposed parking garage dwarfing the neighboring historic building, Kwan Henmi's designs and 800J have all neatly concealed the garages, or minimized their appearance to the prominent streets.

My opinion, Renzo Piano be damned, is that Meridian II is an interesting building from a distance - especially if you're standing south of L Street and away from the garage. I liked the previous incarnation slightly more.

Chris said...

I am not attempting to represent the designers of the building, and NO, I am not THE, or a Harvard grad school guy. Quite the opposite actually.

All I wanted to do is to bring to light as wburg previously pointed out that the sight conditions have very much informed the design of the building. Additionally, please do your homework on the specifics of the pedestrian level interaction with the building. K street is almost strictly "back of house" and loading for the convention center on this block, putting a "big feature" at that corner would be ridiculous.Finally while the developments you previously mentioned "tuck" away, and "hide" the parking, I highly doubt they are providing 400+ parking spaces. It is kind of hard to hide that many spaces on a 160'x160' lot.

Give the design a chance to develop before you start calling it "cheap" and "bland and featureless". I do enjoy reading livinginurbansac, I find it a comprehensive source for a lot of things that are happening in Sacramento, especially when it pertains to architecture and development. Keep up the good work, I look forward to more colorful conversations about upcoming buildings.

Anonymous said...

Methinks thou dost protest too much

towerdistrict said...

The Metropolitan is providing 500+ parking spots with 50 bicycle spaces on a 160' x 260' lot. Cathedral Square is providing 327 parking spots with 33 bicycle spaces on a 160' x 180' lot. Those are comparable numbers, yet the design is certainly not comparable.

To me, the building has some strengths and some weaknesses. It looks like either three different buildings at once, or one incomplete building. I'm curious to know what the City has to say about it.

Only one thing is indisputable about the tower - aiming for LEED certification is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I think its just swell....

somebody else said said...

They don't build crap like this in SF or LA, so why is it OK to build it here? When you go to these cities and view their skylines, nearly all the towers built are attractive from all sides. This tower looks weak and unfinished from at least two sides. I don't believe it has been approved to build so there is still a chance to see some major changes to the design when heard by the committees and the public gets it's say, as they should. That garage is dreadful.

Great post, obviously some people are taking this personally.

R Caruz said...

Wow,

I am a fan of this site and I have never seen a back and forth like this.
I disagree with comments about San Francisco high rises being treated on each elevation. High rises in the city are nor more than precast panels with punched windows. That is so bland. Only the recent Federal court house breaks from that tradition, and its north side is noth but curtain wall.
The north and east elevations on this building can use some more work.
I have always thought that there are two ways to look at high rises:
Human Scale: walking up to the building and using ground floor amenities. The upper portion really isn't associated because there is a massive disconnect in scale already.
City scale: How does the building play in the rythm scale of the existing skyline, a very poor one (in this one) to say the least?
We really can't see much from the
renderings to comment on the human scale.
I do feel the massing of this structure is more intriguing than others in town, and far better than the mess of materials that was previously planned for this site.