Twice a month, the city of Birmingham’s Design Review Committee convenes at the Auburn Urban Studio to discuss plans to make alterations to structures that fall within one of the city’s many historic and commercial revitalization districts. This column summarizes recent DRC activity, with projects grouped by type and location. This edition of Design Review recaps the DRC meeting from September 23, 2015.
Once the meeting was called to order, the committee approved a resolution honoring the years of service of William Robertson, Jr. who was killed in a bicycling accident last month. The resolution will be given to Robertson’s family members.
Fourth Avenue North
A renovation is planned for one of the historic office buildings across from the Lyric Theatre. The new Brock Corners Assembly Space (312-A 18th Street North) will have both an interior and exterior renovation. The plans include changing the class and adding a metal storefront to replicate the original 1900s façade. The existing wood is in bad shape and will need to be replaced. All exterior trim will be painted to match the storefront frames. The committee had questions about the lighting and fenestrations (the arrangement of the windows above the doors). Signage plans will return at a later date.
Status: Carried over
Representatives from Marx Brothers, Inc. (3100 Second Avenue North) presented plans for their upcoming warehouse addition. A new loading facility accessible from First Avenue South will be built and attached to the existing building. The building will have a brick base and concrete walls with colors to match the current site. The committee expressed concerns about pedestrian priorities and the upcoming Red Rock Trail and setting a precedent in an area planned for increased pedestrian usage. They requested visual cues for both truck drivers and pedestrians, including gates as well as paving patterns denoting the pedestrian path and signage alerting drivers to be aware of the potential for people walking past the gate. The landscaping and pedestrian articulation will need to return to the committee.
Status: Approved, building only
The façade of Chai’s Grocery (2133 Seventh Avenue South) is getting an update. New storefronts will be installed and the current roofline will be replaced with a stained wood with signage and lighting attached. The precast concrete will be painted. Although there is currently one tenant, the building is a multi-tenant building and the committee gave a reminder that a Master Sign Plan will be needed.
Midtown / Parkside
Flats on Fourth (300 16th Street South) received conceptual approval in the spring and now the project is returning for final approval. The building is near Regions Field and will occupy 75 percent of the site. A brick base will wrap three sides and the upper floors will be accented with dark tan hardie board in a warm gray-brown, dove gray metal panels, and white EFIS panels. The parking under the building will be screened with a perforated metal and the balcony railings will be a stainless steel cable. The ground level parking is designed to potentially become retail space in the future.
The Wylam Library (1526 Fifth Avenue South) fence project had been conceptually approved when the new constructions plans were approved. The builder returned with the design and materials for the fence, which include wood slats that will remain a natural color. The fence will run from the dumpster to the alley and bike racks will be added along the fence.
21st Street North
The Downtown YMCA (2104 Fourth Avenue North) presented a signage update consistent with the organization’s new rebranding. The internally-lit sign will be made from a white aluminum. The committee issued a reminder that the temporary banner will need to be removed as well.
The Title Group is moving into the Steiner Bank Building (2101 First Avenue North). Individual letters will be installed in the arched stone at the main entrance. The bronze letters will be accompanied by gold leaf vinyl address numbers and a vinyl door sign that will appear like etched glass. The monument sign in the parking lot was not part of this request and is the sole signage for the building’s other tenants.
Two businesses, Fast Signs and AccuPrint, will share the current AccuPrint office (2023 First Avenue North). The new signage plans include two sets of channel letters and the removal of the current signage. The committee did not agree with the layout of the signage as presented.
Status: Carried over
The Neighborhood Association approved a project to update a local 1920s era house (4508 Sixth Avenue South). The roof and gable will be replaced and the iron columns will be updated with wood. The entrance door will be moved and the exterior will be painted grey and cream.
Plans for adding a carport and new exterior door (1030 Glen View Road) were presented to the committee. The style of the carport will mimic the existing design elements and matching materials will be used. The Neighborhood Association approved the plans prior to this meeting.
A siding and exterior restoration project (1301 32nd Street North) was brought to the committee. Plans for this residence included removing the existing vinyl siding and replacing it with hardie board siding. The Neighborhood Association denied the hardie board, but suggested and approved the use of pine siding to match the original exterior cladding. The owner plans to comply with the neighborhood’s request and will replace the vinyl with the original siding. The committee stressed their approval was contingent with the owner agreeing to use the original materials.
Second Avenue North
A residential painting project (2429 Second Avenue North) returned to the committee for the third time to present new plans for the building’s façade. The owner has opted not to paint the façade white, but would like approval for the trim that has already been painted. While the committee would prefer consistency between the three storefronts, they acknowledged the building has three owners and this may not be feasible. However, while painting trim does not affect the historic integrity as painting brick does, some committee members suggested that the painting is akin to signage and affects the overall visual composition of the building.
Status: Approved, three opposed