So, after a somewhat longer than originally intended summer hiatus, I’m back at the Oakbook, with a report on the discussion of the new Kaiser hospital at Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting. You should click through and read it, but if you’re too busy, the short version is that both the neighbors and the Commissioners hated the design presented (PDF), and Kaiser gets to come back for a do-over in mid-October.
Ann Mudge and Michael Colbruno got some pretty entertaining (and borderline cruel) digs in about the design (details here), to the point where I thought they may have gone a little overboard. I mean, I’m not in love with the design either, and I do think making Kaiser try again was the right call, but I don’t think it was nearly so awful as they seemed to. But I’m loathe to criticize the Commission for being too harsh, because on the whole, I think we need people in this town to be a whole lot more critical, not less.
Anyway, I was talking to an acquaintance yesterday about the meeting, and his assessment was that the building was just not that bad and that the Planning Commission was being ridiculous. I’m on their side on this one. The way I see it, I’m just happy that we get to build the it at all. If the neighbors are willing to take the damn thing and not fight it tooth and nail like it seems we have to with every other damn project (to be fair, that part did happen, but it’s over now), then the least we can in exchange is ask that the building be as pretty as possible.
I doubt I’ll ever like it all that much (I’ve already discussed how I feel about this particular form), but hopefully Kaiser will come back with something a little more exciting to look at than what they have now, which really doesn’t have all that much going for it beyond the fact that it’s an improvement over the huge concrete wall on the current hospital.
Unlike certain other projects, this is a case where the building is legitimately really big for the neighborhood, and so it seems fair to me to ask Kaiser to make every reasonable effort (demanding that the hospital not have signs, BTW, falls into the category of an unreasonable request) to put together a building that at least minimizes (to whatever extent that’s possible) the visual impact on the surrounding area. I do think that Kaiser should get at least some minor props for producing a much less hideous building this time around than they brought to the Design Review Committee in May.
Anyway, renderings below. What do you guys think?