New CentrePointe design includes 30-story tower of tubes

Block also to include 8-story building and smaller cluster

bfortune@herald-leader.comJuly 14, 2011 

  • If you go

    What: The public may view renderings of the proposed buildings on the CentrePointe block, talk to architect Jeanne Gang and ask questions.

    Where: Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St.

    When: 4 p.m. July 14

Chicago architect Jeanne Gang released renderings of a new concept for the CentrePointe block in downtown Lexington on Wednesday that show a 30-story tower accompanied by an eight-story asymmetrical office building.

The taller structure, slightly shorter than the blue Financial Center building, has the appearance of a bundle of tubes arranged to let air and sunlight flow between them. The tubes would be different heights, and rooftop gardens could be installed on some of the shorter ones.

The tower is tentatively planned to include a 10-story hotel, 10 stories of apartments, seven floors of condominiums and three floors of penthouses.

"The benefit of the tubes is you can go inside and on top of them and have public spaces," Gang said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Gang, of Studio Gang Architects, will present the designs to the public at 4 p.m. Thursday at The Kentucky Theatre. She also will announce five architectural firms selected to collaborate with her design team on a cluster of smaller buildings on the block that will front Main Street.

Gang said she will have renderings showing the proposed tower and office building from all four sides of the site and in relation to other downtown buildings.

After being introduced to Gang by Mayor Jim Gray, developers Dudley and Woodford Webb hired her in March to propose a new design for the block where 14 historic buildings were razed in 2008.

The Webbs' initial plan for the block — a single building with a tower that would house a hotel, condominiums and a retail complex — stalled because of a lack of financing. Critics, including Gray, said the plan did not fit the scale of downtown Lexington.

Gang said she had a good working relationship with the Webbs, whom she described as "positive and fun to work with."

"They tried hard to engage the new process," she said.

The original CentrePointe plan showed "a big slab building right on top of Main Street," she said. "We broke that into two volumes to give us more elegant proportions and to avoid putting shadows all over Main Street and the courthouse."

In the latest design, the tower will front Vine Street. All retail spaces in buildings on the block, and the hotel lobby, will open onto the street to make the block more pedestrian friendly, she said.

Gang visualizes some kind of pedestrian walkway — perhaps a sculpture gallery — bisecting the block to connect Main and Vine streets.

The cluster of buildings along Main probably will be similar to ones that used to be there, she said. Architectural renderings released Thursday will show their potential size and shape.

When in Lexington in early June, Gang said she wanted different architects to design the smaller buildings to give the block variety and local flavor.

Twenty-five firms applied to work with Gang. In selecting architects, she looked for ones with design qualifications, experience and past collaborative efforts. Some will be from Lexington, but others will be from other parts of the state.

Reach Beverly Fortune at (859) 231-3251 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3251

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