City Center is a proposed 26-story tower to be located at the corner of Main, Corcoran and Parrish Streets. This project significantly impacts the Downtown Historic District and directly involves five historic structures on Main and Parrish Streets.
Board Position Statement:
Preservation Durham has collaborated with Austin Lawrence Partners in support of their efforts to incorporate five historic building facades on Parrish and Main Streets into the City Center project. While these structures comprise a significant portion of our downtown streetscape, they have been heavily modified, damaged by fire, and compromised by decades of water intrusion and neglect.
Recent engineering tests have found the brick to be so badly deteriorated that it cannot hold the anchors needed to support the walls during construction or tie them to the new structure. Other challenges, including the need to replace basement foundation walls and provide temporary shoring that would impact traffic on both Main and Parrish for up to two years, have led ALP to conclude that repair in place is simply not feasible. They have advanced a new proposal to demolish all five facades and rebuild them using mostly new materials.
Preservation Durham is troubled by the neglect that has led to the loss of these historic buildings in the heart of our downtown. We appreciate the developer’s sincere efforts to save their facades and we support the conclusion that repairing them in place is not feasible. We are concerned however, that creating copies of them using new materials – no matter how well done – would blur the line between new and old and create a false historic appearance on an entirely new building. This is neither good preservation practice nor good urban design.
City Center is a bold and visionary project that will transform not only our skyline but also our downtown streetscapes. We encourage Austin Lawrence Partners and their talented designers to craft new street-level elevations that are integral parts of a cohesive design for a new building, respecting the human scale, texture, rhythm, and detailing of the buildings they will replace.
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