Friday, March 1, 2024

Architectural Review Board Approves Stryker Center Design

Wmbg Stryker BuildingThe Williamsburg City Council is a step closer to having a new home.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the city’s Architectural Review Board conditionally approved a design for a replacement to the Stryker Building on North Boundary Street.

Architects David Stemann and Edwin Pease presented an updated version of their initial design for the Stryker Center, a new community building planned as a replacement for the existing Stryker Building at City Square.

The most recent version of the design included three significant changes, according to Stemann and Pease. Because the initial planning presumed the site was flatter than it is, the new design has been altered to raise the building and allow for ground-level access — without stairs or ramps — to the south entrance, Pease said.

Additionally, the shape of the building’s roof has changed. The initial plan called for a gable roof. The new plan substitutes a single slope “shed” roof for the gables at the north and south ends of the building. Stemann said the new roof would have aesthetic and practical benefits.

“The shed roof is woven into the language of the building better than the gables are,” Stemann said.

Finally, Pease said the new design extended the use of precast concrete into areas that will be predominantly brick.

Both the ARB members and residents said they approved of the updated design.

“I’m not a fan of contemporary architecture, but I’m pleased with the building,” said Demetrios Florakis, who represents the Planning Commission on the board. “I think it’ll be a great building, and I think it’ll blend in with downtown.”

Board member Joe Hertzler said the building would expand the city’s “design vocabulary.” However, he said the city should be mindful of the cost and quality of materials used in the construction of the Stryker Center.

“This building could get quite expensive really fast if you don’t watch out,” Hertzler said.

Specifically, board members pointed to the building’s metal roof, columns, brick patterns and fascia — a band running horizontally under the roof’s edge — as areas of concern.

While the proposal included suggested building materials, Hertzler said the description of the materials to be used in those four areas was too vague.

The board voted 4-0 to approve the design with the condition additional information on building materials be made available to ARB members. Stemann, who is also a member of the board, abstained from the vote.

The next step in the process will be the Planning Commission’s approval of the site plan at their August 20 meeting.

An update on the Styker Center design will be presented to City Council on Thursday. However, because the construction will not require a special use permit, no legislative action is required by the Council.

Originally constructed in 1967, the Stryker Building hosted meetings of the City Council. The city opened up the opportunity for bids after it accepted an unsolicited proposal for the Stryker Center — after city officials began working on a vision for a new Stryker Building — from Guernsey Tingle Architects and Henderson Inc. in February 2013.

Stemann-Pease Architects won that bid in December 2013. The proposed building would contain new chambers, along with public spaces, including a gallery.

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