I Guess Its How You Define Contextual

The Oliver (Photo via GL)

KSQ Architects’ new design for 360 Smith Street (now called “The Oliver”) is certainly very nice. Unlike the previous architect, the Westchester/Tulsa (Tulsa?!)-based firm uses more traditional materials (though in non-traditional ways – it sounds as though they are talking about terra-cotta rain screens, not brick walls).

While the design is a great improvement over the original Scarano designs, the only thing that has really changed is the skin (much for the better) and the massing (also much for the better). If that is all people are concerned about, change the glass tower to brick (or terra cotta, whatever), and call it a day.

If the issue is height and density, this is still a very big building (in relation to its Carroll Gardens context). Pardon Me says that the side pavilions (on Smith Street and Second Place) are only five stories, but that clearly refers to the red-colored terra-cotta portion only. The street walls are six stories including the light-beige attic story. And those six stories are set on a very high base – judging by the doorway on the Smith elevation, that base is at least 7′ tall, probably 8′. So unless the developer has found a way to fit six and a half stories in 50′ of building height, the street wall is really closer to 70′ at the sides and probably just under 80′ at the corner (the glass pavilion). On top of which, there is a set back seventh story at the side pavilions. (A local architect has already noted that mechanical equipment and bulkheads will likely add at least another 15′ to the roofscape).

Finally, is anyone in the community bothered by the fact that the developer is showing no retail on Smith Street? I don’t know the project well enough, but Smith is a commercial thoroughfare, and that 7′ or 8′ high black plinth at the base of the building strikes me as pretty non-contextual.

Given that this is an as-of-right building, at this point all the community can really fight for is aesthetics. At least its not metal.

[Via GL]