East Campus Final Design Unveiled

Yesterday, a veritable who’s who of College Park civic life gathered to take a look at the final plans for the East Campus project.

Although a representative from the project architects Street Sense admitted the plans were “still changing as we speak,” dozens of formal MNCPPC “approvals” drawings were scattered about the room, and the team seemed on track for a July submission to the Detailed Site Plan review process.

Studying the Traffic NumbersUniversity officials, student leaders and politicians at the local, county, and state level were on hand perusing the plans. Dour community residents huddled around the traffic table, scouring the numbers presented and taking every last copy of traffic handouts. In the center of it all was Doug Duncan, holding court at a table in the center of the room. Notably absent were College Park Mayor Steve Brayman or Council Member Bob Catlin, although we assume both have already seen some form of the plans presented.

As for the design, reviews were mixed. Many expressed frustration that the designs were too conservative and bland. The University’s Architectural Review Board, which oversees the design of all campus buildings, have been working overtime to finalize the plans with Foulger Pratt and their consultants. However, architecture is an art not a science: one undergraduate regarded the drawings with concern, “I can’t see the campus look here at all,” he quipped, complaining of its contemporary flavor. A theater building and Birchmere Theater were among the most liked, although one well-informed community member acidly quipped about Duncan’s coup from Alexandria that he’d “believe it when I see it.”

The site plan overall held no surprises. The housing had been scaled back from 2,000 units to 1,508, and the phase 2 footprint was significantly smaller than previously discussed. Street connections to Old Town were built, although with bollards clearly marked on the plans. The retail, office, and hotel sizes were similar to earlier plans, and a representative from the architects reported the site continued to have strong interest from potential stores.

When the project enters the public review process, the city, planning board, and county council will weigh in. The required public funding for the parking will be a major issue, and has been little discussed in public thus far.

We’ve requested electronic copies of the submitted documents, which we’ll add here when we get them. For now, here are some cameraphone photos.

This hotel will stand at the corner of Route 1 and Paint Branch Parkway. The design has become a good deal more traditional since earlier renderings.

East Campus Rendering

This image shows residential buildings above retail on Route 1, with the office building to the far right.

East Campus Rendering

This view north on Route 1 shows the office building. Richie Coliseum is shown on the right.

East Campus Rendering

Here is the final overall project massing:

East Campus Massing

Update, 7/14: Here are some higher quality versions we were provided.

“View below is the proposed hotel at Rt. 1 and Paint Branch Parkway (where the Campus Mail facility currently stands).”

East Campus Rendering

“View below is the proposed office complex at Rt. 1 and Rossborough Lane (where the University Police station currently is.) This view is looking North on Rt. 1, with Ritchie Coliseum on the right-hand side of the image.”

Artists' Renderings for East Campus

“View below is the proposed mixed use along Rt. 1 between Paint Branch Parkway (outside the image to the LEFT), and Rossborough Lane (outside the image to the right). This view would be if you are heading South on Rt. 1. You can see the top of the proposed office complex at the far right of the image. You can also see where there is a proposed new road accessing East Campus. That looks to be about where the Harrison Laboratory is now on Rt. 1.”

Artists' Renderings for East Campus

15 thoughts on “East Campus Final Design Unveiled”

  1. I believe that both the office building and hotel have been scaled back and lost stories since these renderings were completed.

  2. I think they dropped from 12 to 9 sotries but i could be wrong.

    The site plan is world class, but I’m less pleased about the architecture because it is clear a lot of compromising took place. The result is mediocre at best. The words “bland”, “uninspiring”, and “rockville” all come to mind. The worst part is the segment along Route 1, which didn’t vary/differentiate the facades enough to even give the illusion that what is actually one huge building is 3 seperate ones.

    Another complaint is that phase II seems to be dramatically consolidated into a couple buildings (with huge garages) rather than the original concepts that had several small buildings surrounding a public plaza.

    Hopefully some of these issues will be fought out over the approval process.

  3. Agreed, if the campus wants a town center, they got it–and nothing more architecturally. The facade articulation (or lack thereof) and treatments do not create a distinctive college town character. I’d like to see something with more personality. And does UMD need another hotel/entrance?

    I think the hotel has the lost the white upper stories and the office building may now be 8 stories.

  4. I agree with the previous comments…the new look is pretty bland. I’m still excited that CP is getting a town center, but this is turning into a missed opportunity to inject some new styles into an architecturally boring town.

    I’m unclear why things changed since the earlier renderings were released. Did the university’s architectural review board want the buildings to blend in more with the buildings on campus? Because those don’t look all that great either…

  5. I recall the initial renderings depicted the hotel as all glass that reflected the blue of the sky. Now, I am no expert when it comes to architecture but to me, to have a blue-ish glass tower across from a red brick georgian campus seems like a pretty stark contrast. I like this look better than the all glass, ultra modern one.

    I share the disappointment that what is really one large building does not look like a row of multiple different buildings, that is a missed opportunity to create a new downtown that looks like an old one, one that is more organic.

    Did they discuss any issues with the steam plant? I was informed recently that because of the risk of an explosion, there are a host of safety precautions that may force a drastically different approach to the initial planning concepts.

    Im shocked we havent heard from Jane Doe yet. I am looking forward to her critique.

  6. After comparing this to the previous Foulger-Pratt plans, what seems missing is the courtyard drawings. That was the highlight IMO. That had neon and banners. The route 1 plans differ, but not as drastically as I preceived at first glance. The current plans reflect the brick facade requirements that CP promotes on all the new buildings. In isolation, the brick looks nice. Taken to an extreme, it looks forced and lacks that organic character.

  7. We definitely shouldn’t forget that the renderings from before were thrown together and were never intended to truly signal the intended architecture. That was one of the reasons the developer was very reticent to release those renderings in the first place.

    These new ones, from what I understand, are basically what will be submitted to the planning board. I’d expect them to be changed to some degree.

  8. “The current plans reflect the brick facade requirements that CP promotes on all the new buildings. In isolation, the brick looks nice. Taken to an extreme, it looks forced and lacks that organic character.”

    What’s CP’s obsession with brick? Can the brick used at least be different colors? Our campus sometimes reminds me of the old military housing around Fort Myer in Arlington.

  9. Why does the picture showing the hotel have a caption stating “OPTION 1”? Does this mean there are several other designs on the table? Also, are there any updates on when we will be getting the digital copies?

  10. I agree with Chris. Brick is fine, but it DOES come in many different colors. How about they mix it up a bit? How about perhaps giving the place a row house or brownstone look? Just without the stoops and steps.

  11. People seem to like Fraternity Row, but I think the houses are a waste of land. They’re not nearly as attractive as the fraternities/sororities in old town, and they were poorly built by students back in the early ’50s. Re-developing that land would help tie East Campus with Old Town…

  12. I was there last night. The presentation was nice. From what I can tell, the designs are nicely mixed between buildings. I especially like the designs of the theater and the Birchmere (industrial). I was always fond of what Baltimore did with the Power Plant at the harbor. The Birchmere design will take on the same genre of architecture. I also like the idea of having a restaurant in the same building. Though I do think the buildings facing Route 1., save the office building, are a bit bland. I feel they can be a little more creative with the hotel.

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