Stone House Development
A rendering of the proposed Frank Productions music venue development at Block 170 on East Washington Avenue, as seen facing north.
As part of continuing efforts to revitalize East Washington Avenue, members of the city's Urban Design Commission are pushing for a more contemporary design for a new mixed-use development in the works on the 1000 block of the street.
The project, proposed earlier this year, will be a combination of residential, office and commercial space. The development is slated to include several buildings, including a 46,000-square-foot concert venue from local promotion company Frank Productions, as well as an estimated 100 residential units, said architect Janine Glaeser, speaking on behalf of Stone House Development.
Mark Schmitz, creative director of the Madison design company ZEBRADOG, showed preliminary renderings of the music venue to members of the commission at a meeting Wednesday night.
Schmitz said he is playing with creative uses of light on the outside of the building in place of an exterior sign. He proposed using LED technology to create illumination on and above the building.
"It would create a sense of a pulse and a kinetic energy, but downplayed, in and around the building," Schmitz said. "Using the LED technology there's really something special that could happen to the skin of the building."
UDC members liked design elements of the music venue. "East Washington is such a tough environment right now, I feel like having life on this street is important and I feel like this could do that," commissioner Dawn O'Kroley said. "This [development] could populate that corner."
The only concern with incorporating a creative use of exterior lighting into the design is whether existing city ordinances would allow it. Ald. Lauren Cnare, a commission member, said the developers might need to deal with that.
The commission also supported incorporating similarly creative ideas into the other aspects of the development, such as the exterior of the residential and office spaces.
"This neighborhood might be more receptive to a less traditional design than Monroe Street," said Richard Slayton, another UDC member. (Neighbors have raised concerns about the proposal, citing traffic, parking and noise issues.)
Slayton, along with Cnare and other commission members, suggested the developers consider a more contemporary design like that of the Constellation, a mixed-use property that opened not long ago further up East Washington Avenue.
"Let's push the envelope," Slayton said.
Although the designs for the development are still in the early phases, the architects are making sure they are meeting the city's Capitol Gateway Corridor Plan, Glaeser said.
She added the additional commercial and residential buildings would likely have a lot of open spaces in their designs, such as a courtyard and ample pedestrian and bicycle access.
The designs for the development are expected to come before the commission for final approval before the end of the year. They will then move to the Plan Commission, with likely review in early January.
[Editor's note: Due to an editing error, this story incorrectly reflected the tone of the UDC's comments about the Stone House proposal. It has been updated to reflect that while commissioners would like the developers to push for a modern design, they were not harshly critical of its current proposal.]