We alluded here last month to a striking new concept Greenfire was working on for the Woolworth site at Corcoran, Main and Parrish -- currently a large open grassy lot, and initially spec'ed out to be a tower to challenge for supremacy on Durham's admittedly-small skyline:
BCR was particularly struck by a concept that would put a slightly smaller building on the site -- keeping the Hill Bldg. as the centerpiece of the skyline -- but one that was designed to provide focused spaces for a Parrish St./Durham history museum and much more significant space for ground floor retail and pedestrian activity.
That includes better connectivity between Main St. and Parrish, as well as elements at the corner of Corcoran and Parrish that provide a surprisingly natural connection between the site and the CCB Plaza to its north, creating a really connected, holistic space that finally makes sense.
Well, Greenfire released artist's renderings of the building concept today, in advance of a July 7 hearing before the Historic Preservation Commission to allow alterations to a number of Greenfire-owned properties that would have to be modified to support this concept.
And while my architectural skill is best described as akin to how Justice Potter Stewart defined pornography -- in this case, I know what I like when I see it -- well, how can I put it?
Smart. Fresh. And a big improvement over the original concept. Here it is, as seen from roughly the Self-Help building site looking northeast:
The new design preserves much of the original streetscapes of Parrish and Main, tying them in to new street-level retail or activity fronting those streets and Corcoran, as seen in these renderings. At the same time, the creation of an internal connector between Parrish and Main both opens up more opportunities for retail and creates additional opportunities for activity on the street.
As is obvious from the design, the scale of the building is a bit smaller, and perhaps might be well-suited to corporate HQs for two or three mid-sized firms, as opposed to the "golden ring" skyline naming opportunity that the Durham Centre presented back in the day for the insurance company that once occupied it, or that the original Woolworth site design or Scientific's Van Alen projects represent.
The view from the CCB Plaza:
One advantage to the new design: it provides a more natural closing-off to the CCB Plaza, completing it on its southeast side -- while not overshadowing the historic Hill Building, still planned for Greenfire's boutique hotel and spa.
Look for the Parrish/Corcoran corner shown above, or a portion of the building along Parrish, to house a public entrance for the proposed Durham/Black Wall Street history museum.
The view down Parrish shows the effect of preserving the streetscape retail to a greater extent than would have happened in the original plan; Greenfire's partners described the challenges they saw in the original "big box" complex guillotining off most of the narrow streetscape retail pads on Parrish that are so attuned to the kind of small retail businesses and restaurants likely to do well in Durham.
Here's more from the Greenfire press release:
The 119 W. Parrish Street office building will incorporate best practices for green design, innovative historic preservation and cutting edge building design to weave the new structure into the very heart of the city. Greenfire is proposing a combination of a new freestanding tower and the redevelopment of the historic retail corridors of W. Parrish and W. Main Streets. Greenfire?s plans call for reuse and reconstruction of existing structures in order to preserve the historically significant pedestrian fabric of the district.
Greenfire believes that its design for the 119 W. Parrish Street office building reintroduces density to the city core and will create a new energy and vibrancy in the City Center. Greenfire has applied for a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission to modify properties that will be the future site of the building. The properties are 119 W. Parrish St., 122 W. Main St., 120 W. Main St., and 113 W. Parrish St. The Commission will review the application at its July 7, 2009 hearing. After the Commission reviews the plans and gives input, Greenfire can work towards submitting full plans to the Planning Department.
Rendering View 1
119 W. Parrish Street rendering with a view looking northeast from the corner of W. Main and Corcoran Streets. Greenfire Development's proposed office building restores the pedestrian retail experience along the street level, and creates an office structure above to attract the next generation of Durham creative class workers seeking the leading edge in the technological and sustainable work environments.
Rendering View 2
119 W. Parrish Street rendering with a view looking southeast from CCB Plaza. The main entrance to Greenfire's proposed office building will be on Parrish Street, one of the most historically significant areas in Durham. Situated across the street from Greenfire's planned hotel, the Parrish Street corridor will be reenergized.
Rendering View 3
119 W. Parrish Street rendering with a view looking east on Parrish Street. Greenfire will restore existing facades as part of the development of the proposed office building, and create new retail and office space to increase the density of the area.