The Historic Zoning Design Review Committee (HZDRC) convened Monday at a special called meeting to discuss schematics and new renderings of Franklin's future City Hall.
At the HZDRC's previous meeting, commissioners agreed that the new City Hall design should speak to the sense of place in Franklin and use historic precedents appropriately.
Anna Ruth Kimbrough, an architect for Studio Eight Design, presented the renderings to the commissioners.
Schematics showed space for retail on the site, a park along Church Street, a raised plaza on the corner of the square and Third Avenue, a courtyard on the western edge of the building, and a water feature such as a specially designed fountain or waterfall at the plaza.
Commissioner comments were overall encouraging to consultants, but they still provided feedback and voiced concerns. One major concern was whether the new City Hall would visually overpower the neighboring courthouse.
“I think to a certain degree it’s distracting from the courthouse, which we want to be the main character here,” commissioner Lisa Marauardt said. “You have the pillars [on the new city hall] that are like the courthouse. They seem a little bit — I wouldn’t use the term copycat — but we don’t like for new buildings to copy what’s on the old buildings.”
Commissioner Susan Besser agreed with Marauardt’s sentiment.
“I am concerned that it may be just so much like the courthouse and commanding,” Besser said. “Right now, it is very commanding. This is a very commanding building. I am not sure I am totally on board with that.”
Other commissioners voiced worries over the proposed water feature.
“When you look at the renderings, [the water feature] reads bigger than it feels in real life,” Josh Denton said. “How is that really going to feel? You have the center of the square and then some portions are more open than others as you walk around, but how much is that going to detract? I do like the idea of the water there, though.”
Commission vice chair Mary Pearce concluded much of the discussion with final comments about the building’s place in Franklin’s square.
“I think we want this to feel like a big success as an in-fill project,” she said. “The basic streetscape feels like it’s always been there, [but] this building is not going to feel like it’s always been there. The building next door doesn’t feel like it’s always been there either, but that building is very popular with residents.”
The renderings and elevation studies will be presented to the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen at a work session Feb. 28.
It would look good on the Hill property just south of the police station on Columbia.
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