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Old Posted Mar 17, 2005, 6:14 PM
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The latest from the 3/17/05 Enquirer:

The 21-story, 80-condominium, crescent-shaped building would transform the Covington skyline. Photo provided

Riverside tower could make splash
Designer to meet with review panel

By Mike Rutledge
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - Developer Bill Butler's proposed condominium tower near the riverfront here could "raise worldwide curiosity and interest in this region," a former dean of University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning said Wednesday.

"There's no question this would be a very significant residential structure in Cincinnati, if not the most significant one, in terms of residential structures in the whole metropolitan region," said Jay Chatterjee, an architecture professor at UC.

"I really like it," Chatterjee added. "I think it's a very significant addition to the regional skyline - and certainly for Northern Kentucky. It will be magnificent."

Chatterjee called the vision worthy of the reputation of its designer, Polish-born architect Daniel Libeskind, who last year won the competition to design the new buildings at the site of New York City's World Trade Center.

The proposed 21-story, 80-condominium, crescent-shaped Covington building has a notable "swooshing" roofline that sweeps to the sky. The Kenton County Planning Commission recently approved two versions proposed by Butler's Corporex Cos., but Corporex has made clear it prefers the Libeskind version over a plainer one with a flatter roof.

Costs still may be a factor in which version is constructed, said Crystal Gibson, a Corporex spokeswoman.

"It's safe to say that we're still working with the costs, and seeing where we can make it work," Gibson said.

Libeskind will be in Covington on Monday to meet with the city's Architectural Review Panel at 3 p.m. He later will meet with members of the Historic Licking-Riverside Civic Association and Friends of Covington in the City Commission's chambers. The meeting will start sometime between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday, officials said.

City commissioners will meet in a quick special session at 9:30 a.m. Friday to appoint architect Gene Weber to the architecture panel, to replace his recently deceased partner, Bill Hub, in advance of Monday's meeting.

The Architectural Review Panel advises the mayor and commissioners about projects that are north of Fifth Street. It examines such issues as the scale and mass of a building, and the materials to be used.

"A few months ago, the panel recommended that the developer work with the architect to address the roofline," said Covington Economic Development director Ella Fry. "They did not like the roofline that was proposed, and they advised that they should come back to the panel."

Libeskind joined the project and took that suggestion to heart.

Steven Massicot, the Corporex director responsible for the tower, said Libeskind's design addresses the roofline suggestions: "We believe this design responds to those comments, as well as responding to our program from both a functional and aesthetic standpoint," he said.

"I think it's wonderful, having more people living in our downtown area, Riverside area, so we can get more retail," said city Commissioner Jerry Stricker, a Licking-Riverside resident. "The more residents we can have down here, it benefits everybody."

Licking-Riverside Civic Association president Lisa Sauer said she is hoping the building will have "a little more of a historic look to it, versus extremely modern."

"I think Bill Butler is willing to work with residents on the design, and he's already met at least on two occasions with some of our (neighborhood) people about that," Stricker said. "And I know he wants to do whatever it takes to make everyone happy.

"Of course, you can't make everybody happy, but he's been very receptive to listening," Stricker said.

The Architectural Review Panel's recommendation will be key, because it will be considered by the Urban Design Review Board when it holds a public hearing March 28, Fry said.

In April, city commissioners will take into consideration the Architectural Review Panel's recommendations and those of the UDRB.

"I haven't heard any real negative things on it," said Mayor Butch Callery, a fan of the design. "So I think ... it ought to be on its way then."


Here's what University of Cincinnati architecture professor Jay Chatterjee said he appreciates about the proposed condominium tower:

"I like the atriums (architect Daniel Libeskind) created at the top, and I like the way he brings the sky into play," Chatterjee said. "I like the way he staggers the roof as it goes down."

Its positioning near the Suspension Bridge. Plus, "in some ways it picks up the color of the bridge too, in its glass forms, which I like."

Chatterjee also likes the way its parking garage integrates with the southbound ramp from the Suspension Bridge. "It almost has that feeling to it that the building sort of wraps around the curb."

The view of the proposed tower from the Cincinnati side of the Ohio River.
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