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Two Intown Projects Reveal Revised Designs: One's Better, the Other...Not So Much

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Rarely does a building project go from the initial concept phase to final execution without a few tweaks here and there. In the case of two major undertakings, an overall community vision and monetary concerns were responsible for visits back to the old drawing board. Let's start with the good news: Novare has come back with a better plan for the parking garage that will serve its 100 6th Street apartment tower, which is set to rise next to the Viewpoint condominiums. After some recommendations from the Development Review Committee (as well as public outcry from Midtown residents) Novare's made some changes that seem to be headed in the right direction.

"Window boxes" along the Juniper Street side of the parking deck have been replaced with honest-to-goodness retail space, including at the corner of 7th Street (which was initially envisioned as an afterthought of a pocket park). The deck will be pushed back slightly from 7th Street, allowing for a skinny dog park, and vegetation will be allowed to grow up the side of the structure. Perfect? No. Improved? We'd say so. The modified deck will come up for review at tonight's meeting of the Development Review Committee.

Less satisfying is the newest rendering of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Maria Saporta reports that the center revealed a third major reduction on Monday; what started as a $100M project with a $25M endowment was scaled back to $85M with a $15M endowment in 2010, and now those figures are down to $70M with a $5M endowment. In each of the three situations the center would have opened with no debt, but this latest plan has it economically self-sustaining.

The architects for the project, Freelon Group and HOK Atlanta, have remained the same, but the architecture has undergone some changes that leave the building looking a little less exciting. Make that a lot less. Gone is the symbolism of the interlocking arms and the serious but optimistic aesthetic that would have been a nice counterpoint to the blandness of the neighboring COP tourist attractions. Pinching pennies is perfectly understandable and maybe the aesthetics will improve with the realization of two future additions, but for now we're feeling a little underwhelmed.

· Novare Tower Will Have Active Uses Along Entirety of Juniper [Midtown Patch]
· Center for Civil and Human Rights unveils new affordable design [Saporta Report]