Skyscraper City Forum banner
1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Brotha
Joined
·
444 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The controversy for me would be that anyone would actually out in arms about this relic.


Plans for Mechanic Theatre site stir controversy


1960s 'Brutalist' building, empty for years, elicits strong feelings from backers and detractors


August 02, 2012|By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun


An informational meeting held Thursday for Baltimore officials to review the initial design of a mixed-use development planned for the site of the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre ended with impassioned comments about the proposed demolition of the architecturally significant building.

"You people are being manipulated," Baltimore land-use attorney John C. Murphy told the city Planning Department's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel.

Murphy and others in the audience at the public meeting, which had no binding outcome, said the architecture review panel should delay discussion of the plans until a decision is made on whether the theater at Baltimore and Charles streets should be allowed to stand.

"This is a world-class building," Murphy said of the Mechanic, designed by architect John Johansen in the "Brutalist" style and built more than four decades ago.

The presentation of preliminary drawings for One West Baltimore Street by Owings Mills-based developer David S. Brown Enterprises Ltd. and the Washington architecture firm Shalom Baranes Associates dredged up strong feelings about the value of the building, which has sat unused for eight years.

Since the theater closed, development proposals have been put forth that would have retained the Mechanic's cast-concrete shell. However, the current plan, which calls for two residential towers to be built atop three stories of retail space and five levels of underground parking, would raze the Mechanic. One tower would stand about 30 stories and the other 24.

No final decisions have been made about the buildings' exterior appearance, architect Shalom Baranes told the panel.

The plans are intended to ease pedestrian access to Hopkins Plaza, Baranes said. A vehicle ramp along the west side of Charles Street would be removed, and the architects are considering moving the entrances to the Charles Center Metro station from the sidewalk to the building's interior.

"What a refreshing change this will be," Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership and a longtime supporter of redeveloping the Mechanic site, told the panel. "This is the right building for the corner. We need the retail. We need the residences."

The plans were received warmly by the panel, though several members raised concerns about the amount of retail included in the design, given the amount of empty retail space in the Pratt Street corridor.

Howard S. Brown, chairman and president of One West Baltimore Street's developer, said he was not concerned about finding tenants. "Multilevel, urban retail is the strongest thing in the country right now" when it comes to urban revitalization, he said.

In May, Brown Enterprises applied for a permit to demolish the theater. Another division of the Planning Department, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, will hold a hearing Aug. 14 to discuss the demolition application, said Kathleen Kotarba, the commission's executive director.

The Mechanic Theatre is on CHAP's "special list," allowing the preservation commission to delay the issuance of a demolition permit by six months while alternatives are sought

One of the few moves that could save the Mechanic would be City Council approval of landmark designation for the theater, but neither side thinks that is likely.

The preservation commission suggested five years ago that the theater be listed as a landmark, but the proposal did not make it through the Planning Commission. In 2008, the commission voted unanimously against granting the Mechanic landmark status.

Brown said he was confident that landmark designation would not be granted.

"There's no use for the building," he said. "It'll sit there and decay."

[email protected]

twitter.com/stevekilar
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,248 Posts
I bet the group that wants to save this pile of crap concrete will go to court and tie this up for years like they did for the Super Block and other projects. Meanwhile those who want to save it are not willing to pony up any money, nor any idea about what to do with it. They just want to let it sit and rot, while sapping the city of life and revenue at a major downtown intersection.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,531 Posts
I bet the group that wants to save this pile of crap concrete will go to court and tie this up for years like they did for the Super Block and other projects. Meanwhile those who want to save it are not willing to pony up any money, nor any idea about what to do with it. They just want to let it sit and rot, while sapping the city of life and revenue at a major downtown intersection.
We'll wait for the Angelos lawsuit, seeings how anything built there will compete with his holdings further up Charles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,416 Posts
I like the architecture of the Mechanic. The only thing that I hoped for was to have the facade saved on one side of the theater and incorporate it into the new development.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,517 Posts
Good point. So far he has remained silent on this controversy, but I can see him weighing in.
Does anybody know if Angelos is really still alive? Nothing he ever talked about, especially the Fidelity building, has moved in years, there are no announcements, nothing, just an occasional move by his lawyers to squelch other developments. He's getting to be the new Harry Weinberg. Maybe he actually died in 2008 or maybe he went into seclusion in the Maui rainforest and his minions just continue as though he were still there because they are still getting paid.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,943 Posts
Does anybody know if Angelos is really still alive? Nothing he ever talked about, especially the Fidelity building, has moved in years, there are no announcements, nothing, just an occasional move by his lawyers to squelch other developments. ...
Yeah. Walked by Marconi's on Saratoga Street (which PA owns) today, and it still has a years old "Closed for the Summer" sign on the front door.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,299 Posts
Oviously it has sat empty for some reason. Not only the public, but past theater groups have their dislikes. The THING is not seen in high reguard. It sits on a prime choice of real estate that could be delvoped in to some thing more appealing for the city as a whole.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,517 Posts
Oviously it has sat empty for some reason. Not only the public, but past theater groups have their dislikes. The THING is not seen in high reguard. It sits on a prime choice of real estate that could be delvoped in to some thing more appealing for the city as a whole.
It stank as a theater...bad acoustics, bad sight lines, tomb-like concrete interior, almost no lobby space, inadequate bathrooms, bad access, scary stairways. That's in the past, however, since the theater is gone and only the shell is left. About the only thing you could use it for now would be housing some sort of ancient, evil, powerful relic, like in The Keep.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,315 Posts
The project

is a key component to revitalizing Charles St. I would like to see this happen and University of Baltimore add 2,000 additional students living on campus to create a vibrant Charles St. again.

It stank as a theater...bad acoustics, bad sight lines, tomb-like concrete interior, almost no lobby space, inadequate bathrooms, bad access, scary stairways. That's in the past, however, since the theater is gone and only the shell is left. About the only thing you could use it for now would be housing some sort of ancient, evil, powerful relic, like in The Keep.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,126 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,866 Posts
^^^^we can only continue to keep dreamin' for a sleek glassy beauty like this one.........lol.

i don't mean to be pessimistic, but we all know this is "Baltimore's Way" of thinkin'.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,531 Posts
Something similar would be pretty amazing for that site! Although something like that isn't going to happen, I would prefer a slimmer, taller, airier tower allowing for more open space rather than what has been proposed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,847 Posts
Jamie: Oh come on now, be serious. With your twists and bends, you should be spinning strategy for politicians in DC!

Look, we can stroke each other's ego with all the name-dropping and innuendos for the next 150 days that we want. Fact of the matter remains there's nothing you, I or anyone else can do until the deadline has passed.

I'm sorry you find the Walters addition and the Mechanic such unsightly intrusions on the cityscape. I guess everything can't be from the same era or from the same time period of architectural history. I am also very sorry your current views about preservation overall seem to have changed over the years.

On the other hand, like many others, I do appreciate the range of styles and -ism's and appreciate the process to protect our built environment.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top