As buildings fall, accept potential with new design

The bulldozers arrived, the buildings fell and with them went the last hopes for an appeal to stop the demolition of the CentrePointe block.

We knew it was coming — the razing was unanimously approved at the end of June, The Dame and Busters officially closed nearly a month ago— but still we held tight to the thought that someone (hopefully historical preservation group Preserve Lexington), somewhere would win an appeal and prevent the 35-story monstrosity from climbing into the downtown skies.

But with the block being leveled we shouldn’t pause too long to wallow in defeat and nostalgia, instead it is important to look ahead for ways to make the best out of the new hotel, retail and restaurant space.

Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine said during her ruling Tuesday, which gave the go-ahead for demolition of the remaining buildings on the block, the economic impact for the Lexington community would be “incredibly significant.”

“The economic benefits for years to come are absolutely and indisputably tremendous,” Goodwine said.

So if this is true and the city will benefit economically, even if not culturally, maybe there is something to look forward to… but please let it be in a different package.

The Kernel commends the efforts of the College of Design in hosting a design workshop to generate alternate concepts for a hotel; however the designs were far-fetched and hardly realistic.

While we complain that the current design by Dudley and Woodford Webb is out-dated, unattractive and unfitting with the rest of the buildings in Lexington, the newly-generated alternatives fit in, if possible, even less.

Paul Preissner, faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his team designed a set of high rises that bend and curve into the sky, somewhat resembling french fries, and stand in awkward comparison to the rest of downtown’s architecture.

The team led by Heather Flood and Ramiro Diaz Granados, faculty members at the Southern California Institute of Architecture didn’t come close to achieving practicality either.

Even Liz Swanson and Mike McKay, faculty in UK’s College of Design, and their design team failed to come up with designs for the block that mirror the culture and history of Lexington.

Having an influence on the concept for the up-scale high rise this late in the game is “awfully small,” Hayword Wilkirson, president of the board of Preserve Lexington, told the Kernel. With this in mind, architects, designers, students and community members should be thinking of practical alternatives and realistic hotel plans that are both better than the current design for CentrePointe and something that will still belong in Lexington in thirty years.

It was an honest effort by all involved to host the design competition. We only wish it had come sooner in the project.

The buildings are falling, now it’s time to accept the potential this development has to offer, jobs and revenue to Lexington and come up with a design to case the economic growth that embodies the history and personality of the city.

Even if we were satisfied with what we had.