Conceptual drawings blend two styles
Posted on 05/26/2022
New architectural design of row houses. by Presley Architecture and M ArchitectsAt its May 18 meeting, the Historic District Commission (HDC) was shown conceptual designs for the Downs site plan for row houses located in the Historic District, along Cady Street and along Griswold between Cady and Beal. Seth Herkowitz, of Hunter Pasteur Northville (HPN), asked for feedback on the concepts. He and his team last presented to the HDC on Feb. 16.

Vice Chair David Field ran the meeting since Chair Jim Allen was involved with the landscape portion of the project and was excused for a conflict of interest. This meeting was for conceptual review only, without expectation of a formal vote.

Field requested that the developer present the project “one slice at a time for HDC approval” when that time comes. After viewing the project as a whole, they will vote separately on the condo building, apartment building, and row houses.

The latest row house designs showed an updated façade along Griswold and new attention to detail on the corner building of Cady and Griswold, as requested by Historic District Commissioner Jeff Gaines. In addition, there is now a stepdown in rooflines along Griswold, allowing for a smoother transition in height of buildings as the hilly street slopes to the south. The rooflines previously were at 49’, stepping down abruptly to 35 ft. Now, there’s a more gradual step-down – from 49’ to 40’ to 36’ and finally at 30 feet with the attached single-family homes at Beal and Griswold. Additionally, the home has been angled with a wrapped front-side porch to present a more distinctive corner.

Developers also responded to the HDC’s (and PC’s) request that the project not have a “cookie-cutter” image. To remedy that, two row house building designs with four units each were developed along Griswold. The first design was characterized as transitional (blend of contemporary and traditional) while the other design was traditional – each with 8x8 front porches. Among the versions shown, one had all eight units as transitional, and a second had all as traditional. A third version had a blend of the two designs, with one segment of row houses in the transitional style next to a segment in the traditional style. The blended version with a four-unit traditional row house building closer to Cady St. was the one most commissioners favored.

Architect Robert Miller stated that the buildings were likely not going to be all brick, but a blend of brick on the front and a siding such as Hardie board elsewhere. Commissioner Leanie Bayly specified that they use natural materials such as stucco rather than vinyl siding or aluminum.

At the close of the meeting, HPN’s Herkowitz asked the commissioners to provide specific requests that could be acted on as the designs are refined, aiming for “collaboration and consensus.”

View the meeting video here.