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Thursday, March 3, 2016

City Design Review Committee Has Harsh Words for Rock Hall Redesign Plans

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 5:07 PM

So remember the other day when plans for an "enlivened" re-design of the Rock Hall's entry plaza were unveiled to the world and everyone got excited? Us too. It was literally two days ago, and though public reaction included as many "mehs" as "woohoos" (very scientific terms), the general consensus was that it was far beyond time for the Rock Hall to get a face lift and if there's anything Cleveland can get behind with shares and RTs, it's articles about something new happening. Sure, "Long Live Rock" is a corny phrase to choose as the very first words for visitors to see, but hey, it was something.

Well, the city of Cleveland's design review committee apparently didn't love the plans as much as some of the commentariat. The 10-member group voted unanimously to table the plans today, according to Steve Litt's report. What's that matter? Tabling the plans prevents the city's planning commission from considering or voting on them. Shorter version: thumbs down, guys. Try again.

Comments from the meeting were pretty harsh and echoed those who've noted a certain blahness about all the new projects and construction around town (much of which was approved and planned with the express purpose of being done by July for the RNC.) 
Members of the committee, mostly architects and community development and real estate experts, said they appreciated the desire to warm up the plaza, which they described as the visually chilly, windswept "corporate" forecourt to architect I.M. Pei's 1995 Rock Hall building.

"I think you guys have been set an extremely difficult problem," architect Jack Bialosky, the committee's chairman, told the Rock Hall's designers and President and CEO Greg Harris. "You're dealing with a plaza that's not contained, not defined."

But Bialosky called the design concepts underwhelming and static and "in keeping with Cleveland having ideas derivative of other places...."

He added: "there's nothing unique to this experience that's all about Cleveland and unique to this place... I don't think you've gone far enough."
"In keeping with Cleveland having ideas derivative of other places." That's... not a ringing endorsement.

Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris said that the project could still be completed by that ever-important and ever-approaching RNC date in July if plans were approved in two weeks, according to Litt's report.

That hardly seems a date worth chasing if more time and planning could create the plaza the Rock Hall deserves instead of the plaza the Rock Hall can get approval for within 14 days. RNC visitors and the TV cameras will leave in July. We'll be looking at the Rock Hall long after they're gone.

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