Just came from the meeting at the Music Center. The plans, in their early stages, are as follows:
The part of the project that would open first would include the parcels between 1st and 2nd, along with the park. These were the focus of tonight's meeting. The parcels west of Grand would open later.
They emphasized they have no control over the County buildings, although they seemed to favor their removal and seemed willing to design the park around their eventual elimination.
Civic center park would be integrated across the three blocks, using lots of integrating design elements, such as path design, scenic steps and view locations.
The three blocks of the park would be programmed separately: cultural/recreational uses, including a "great lawn", for the County building block; public gardens for the center block; and civic uses (like farmer's market, marathon start/finish) across from City Hall. Each segment would have active areas, including cafes, quiet areas, and lots of amenities.
The parking under the park would remain, but the entrances would be redesigned so they wouldn't interfere with pedestrian flow. (Yeah, I've heard that one before!!!)
The main parcels (between 1st and 2nd Streets) would have four towers, between 20-35 stories each. Two would be residential, one would be hotel + condo, and the other (at First/Hill) would be office. Residential ~2000 units.
The pedestrian flow would be along paseos forming an 'X' through the two parcels, with the center of the 'X' in the form of a pedestrian bridge crossing Olive. They promised that adequate connections would be made to Olive Street, but I wasn't so convinced.
The ground floor seemed like it could be very lively. Not just towers, but lots of retail at the street level. As mentioned by others on this forum, they apparently are already working to secure retailers for this project.
The towers were lower and narrower than I expected. Also, they tended to be oblique to the street. That said, it was hard to get a feel due to the strange angles of the renderings. We were told these concepts were preliminary, as architects have not yet begun work in any detail. Also, there seemed to be interest in making one of the towers an 'icon'.
Lots of talk about 'transparency', 'flow', 'airiness'. The East Coast architects seem to have been persuaded by the West Coast people that we are interested more in airiness than density. That said, they frequently cited New York and Barcelona when it came to influences and specific ideas. From my perspective, that's a good thing!!!
Overall, nice job, but of course I didn't like everything. I'd like to see less 'light' and more urbanism. Less enclosed-mall, more street presence. Less pedestrian bridge, more pedestrian sidewalks. Less isolation, more connectivity.
I especially liked the paseo, the public gardens, the "great lawn", and the retail components. This thing's supposed to open in 2009...I can't wait!