Studio Gang has been hired to reimagine a stalled mixed-use high-rise in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. Having languishing through the recession and without financing, the development called CentrePointe may now gain momentum thanks to the fresh eye of the Chicago-based firm responsible for the much-praised Aqua Tower. Jeanne Gang, principal, told AN her office will be preparing several concept plans over the next six weeks demonstrating new design strategies that could guide the future project and attract new tenants and financing.
The proposed $200 million tower has been scaled back since it was first proposed several years ago. Current plans call for a 25-story tower with a mix of residential, commercial, retail, and hotel space. Studio Gang will be presenting several scenarios to keep the mix of uses while better integrating the design into the community and attracting future buyers.
“There’s a definite urban design component,” explained Jeanne Gang. She said Lexington can sometimes feel like a commuter city. “We want to get people out of their cars.” Beyond making the city more pedestrian friendly, Gang expects to develop strategies to mediate the varying scales surrounding the full-block site. One side of the block offers two- and three-story historic structures while another features larger office towers.
Developers drew the ire of the community by razing the block, which once housed small-scale historic buildings. Now that the damage is done, however, the city and developers hope to move forward with a rejuvenated plan. “The site is literally a tabula rasa,” joked Gang. “It’s sitting there waiting for something good to happen.”
Gang visited the site several times in March to evaluate site conditions. Her firm is already familiar with Lexington, however. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Studio Gang proposed a new Lexington city hall and has been retained to develop a master plan for the University of Kentucky’s College of Design.
“The area has good bones,” said Gang. “There are some really nice historic buildings and two colleges nearby. There’s also a very active convention center and basketball arena.” She has also drawn inspiration from the horse farms and their prototypical wooden fences surrounding the city. For the time being, the CentrePointe site, now covered in bluegrass, is also surrounded by a similar split-rail wooden fence.
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