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Preservation group calls for public protest of Augusta building plans

Special
The proposed design of a new Augusta Information Technology building, to face Telfair Street, has drawn extensive criticism from Historic Augusta and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission and includes a garage door facing Greene Street. Historic Augusta is calling the public to weigh in on the plan at a meeting today at the main library.
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 10:58 PM
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 12:20 PM
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Historic Augusta is asking the public to unite at today’s meeting against the city’s plans to tear down an antebellum courthouse annex and weigh in on the “futuristic” design of a proposed new Information Technology building.

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The new façade of Augusta Municipal Building will face Telfair Street instead of its current front on Greene Street. Historic Augusta is calling for the city to revise its renovation and construction plans to fit with local preservation guidelines and is asking the public to weigh in on them at a meeting today.   Special
Special
The new façade of Augusta Municipal Building will face Telfair Street instead of its current front on Greene Street. Historic Augusta is calling for the city to revise its renovation and construction plans to fit with local preservation guidelines and is asking the public to weigh in on them at a meeting today.

The annex at 527 Telfair St., adjacent to the former Congregation Children of Israel Synagogue, was built before 1865 and is “a contributing building in the Augusta Downtown Historic District,” according to Robyn Anderson, the Historic Au­gusta preservation services director. The annex features a Greek pediment, ornate cornice line and Greek Re­vival entry portico.

The city wants to demolish the annex, now home to the city IT department and print shop, to replace parking spaces lost to the proposed new IT building. The plan went before the Historic Preservation Commission on Oct. 24.

Architect Virgo-Gambill’s design for the new IT building, a two-story, 20,000-square-foot structure with a garage door facing Greene Street, “fails utterly to meet existing design guidelines for the downtown historic district,” Anderson said.

“The plan calls for a futuristic structure with materials not approved for the district and a shape and style not complementary to the neighborhood or to adjacent buildings,” she said.

Historic Augusta is proposing the city demolish only rear additions to the annex building, redesign the IT building’s exterior and develop a master plan for the 500 block that “fits in with the aesthetic and architectural fabric of the Greene Street corridor, one of Augusta’s most beautiful and significant streets and neighborhoods.”

Asked Monday about the challenges Historic Augusta is posing for the city’s $40 million construction project, City Administrator Fred Russell said the project design was driven by the need to modernize the 1957 municipal building to meet current building codes, including fire prevention and accessibility for the disabled.

The city wants to construct the new IT building, allow IT to move in, then demolish the annex for parking. The plans also call for moving the entrance to the municipal building from Greene Street to Telfair Street.

Proposed IT building plans

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Historic Preservation Commission work session and monthly meeting

WHEN: 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. today

WHERE: Augusta main library, 823 Telfair St.

Comments (14) Add comment
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Young Fred
17860
Points
Young Fred 11/21/13 - 02:16 am
1
1
How one sided is this?

The new pictures are "perty" as my grandpa would say.

Just for an unbiased and proper version of the story, I would expect a picture of the current "antebellum courthouse".

Is that too much to asik?

Connor Threlkeld
882
Points
Connor Threlkeld 11/21/13 - 02:45 am
2
0
Young Fred, the photo has

Young Fred, the photo has been added. We've run the photo in several previous stories, but I'm glad to add it since you asked.

Riverman1
86885
Points
Riverman1 11/21/13 - 05:33 am
5
0
Antebellum Magnificence

The "city" is out of its mind if it destroys this building. There's nothing to debate about whether it's historic and worthy of saving. It's an heirloom from the antebellum era. I'm appalled the proposal has gotten this far. I can't imagine any city destroying such a historic building.

floridasun
310
Points
floridasun 11/21/13 - 08:52 am
1
0
A Reasonable Design Please

Personally I think the new tower on the back of the Municipal Building looks awful
The plan to put a garage door on Greene Street is very poor decision
The architects knew this block was in a historic design district and choose to ignore this
New design please

Mrs. Peel
26
Points
Mrs. Peel 11/21/13 - 09:34 am
4
0
Keep history, reject '50's idea of modern

While I am highly in favor of moving the Municipal Building entrance to the Telfair St side so you don't have to walk all the way around the building to get in, the proposed addition looks like a 1950's idea of futuristic design, that gets outdated in 10 years. The Municipal Building has a clean design and any addition should follow that design, not stick on something that looks like it was built from Legos. The idea of tearing down a beautiful historic building to put up an ugly, stark one in it's place is short-sighted and poor design planning.

Little Lamb
46904
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Little Lamb 11/21/13 - 10:43 am
1
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What, Me Worry?

From the story:

“The plan calls for a futuristic structure with materials not approved for the district and a shape and style not complementary to the neighborhood or to adjacent buildings,” Robyn Anderson said.

Fred (What, me worry?) Russell does not worry about little things like style.

If you ask me, there is no compelling reason for the IT department to be housed near the Marble Palace. They could rent an old warehouse somewhere near the geographic center of the county for their servers. Then most of the department could work from home via internet connections and VPN. If a city employee needed on-site service, the IT tech who lives closest to that office could respond in his own vehicle.

But Fred did not ask me.

Little Lamb
46904
Points
Little Lamb 11/21/13 - 10:44 am
2
0
Mrs. Peel

Good comment, and welcome to the forum, Mrs. Peel.

CricketSeranade
593
Points
CricketSeranade 11/21/13 - 11:27 am
1
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Tear down

that marble monstrosity if you need to tear something down. I actually agree with Little Lamb, why not have IT techs who work in the city work from home. The majority of IT issues are currently being handled remotely anyway.

Sweet son
10729
Points
Sweet son 11/21/13 - 02:18 pm
3
0
I T doesn't need anything but a 'cubby hole!' Those people

provide an invaluable service to RC as do I T people in all organizations but they can be housed anywhere fiber optic cable is available. I'm sure the county has unused space in it's inventory that could house this group without obligating for 40 million dollars. If nothing else a building this size will add a large sum to the county budget for utilities and maintenance!

Don't build it!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 11/21/13 - 02:35 pm
2
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Bet somebody could photoshop

Bet somebody could photoshop some trees into the photo of the current building and then add some greenery like in the future picture and the old one would look pretty as the future one. Sorry guys, I like classic. Work within the framework that exists and save a bunch of money. Yall perk up when I say the M word no?

triscuit
3153
Points
triscuit 11/21/13 - 04:31 pm
2
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Maybe, for once, the city

Maybe, for once, the city should hire architects that know what they are doing, especially in a historic area, instead of hiring the cheapest or whoever is the best connected with the powerbrokers downtown.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 11/21/13 - 05:09 pm
1
0
not gonna happen Triscuit.

not gonna happen Triscuit. Too many favors to divvy out locally and make some side monet, like a Count :)

Little Lamb
46904
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Little Lamb 11/21/13 - 05:15 pm
1
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Thumbs UP

Thumbs up, David and triscuit.

JRC2024
9287
Points
JRC2024 11/29/13 - 10:44 am
0
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I recently looked at a set of

I recently looked at a set of drawings for a new store by this architect. Did not like them.

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