Category Archives: Architecture in Saratoga Springs

Stand up and Cheer for the Zanettis

The New Mahogany Doors at Saratoga Springs City Hall

The New Mahogany Doors at Saratoga Springs City Hall

John and Tom Zanetti built and installed new entrance doors to the Saratoga Springs City Hall. This is a longtime Saratoga millwork and cabinetry company. Please stand up and give them the credit they deserve, these doors will be around longer than those of us reading this article.
Other individuals and companies that helped out are Tom Frost, Rich Martin, and Allerdice Building Supply.

Front View of Doors

Front View of Doors

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Victorians Make A Comback

The Adelphi Hotel is one of the few Broadway businesses that recreates traditional Victorian design and makes it work. This is not a popular style these days, and most places either do a dreadful hokey version, or avoid it with modern sleak design. No matter how you feel about it, Saratoga Springs is a Victorian city, and the Adelphi seems to be the sole flag bearer working within the tradition.

From the Moment You Get Our of Your Car It's Perfect

From the Moment You Get Out of Your Car It's Perfect

From a distance, across the street, or right in front of the door, there are no bad views. The small gardens between the sidewalk and the entrance are in harmony with the building design and the surrounding landscaping. The walkway from the street is a grand entrance under a vine covered trellis.

Small Victorian Gardens

Small Victorian Gardens

Whether you love the old world style or not, this is what people come to Saratoga Springs to experience.  They have done a great job with all the details – the type treatment of their logo, the colors of the building, flowers in the pots in front of the doors, even the gold leaf on the entrance door signs, all look as if they have come from Saratoga’s past.

The Grand Entrance

The Grand Entrance

The design consistent even when you look up, with traditional banners, and flowers giving a festive victorian view.

Looking up at the Adelphi Balcony

Looking up at the Adelphi Balcony

The old Saratoga may be fading away, but the Adelphi is letting visitors step back in time and see what originally made this city famous.

A Slow Road To A Park View

The Park View Condominiums have been rising for almost two years now. I have been watching the construction as it seems to move ever so slow. Even at this point getting a perspective of what it is going to look like is difficult. It still isn’t at a point where I can decide if it is a good looking building or a giant monstrosity that should never have been allowed to be next to Congress Park.

Park View's West Side Facing Broadway

Park View's West Side Facing Broadway

Sonny Bonacio has an incredible but sometimes spotty record for his building design. I’m not really sure who the architect is, but he often uses Olsen Architects for such large projects.

On this day I couldn’t get close enough to look at the details of material, but it seems they are using soap stone on the front facade, but that is just a guess.

Soapstone Facade or Slate?

Soapstone Facade or Slate?

The North side of the building, which will look out over Congress Park and also have a birds eye view of Broadway. If these are the most valuable living spaces, why does it seem they are the last to be finished. Are sales slow? Are the most valuable apartments still available?

North Views from Condominiums

North View Side Of Building

I’m waiting for the day I can write how much I like the final product.

Mid Century Modern Meets Downtown Saratoga Springs

The New City Center Design Concept

The New City Center Design Concept

After years of talk, the Saratoga Springs City Center has finally unveiled the new design for that corner of Broadway. If this concept is constructed as proposed it will be the first modern looking building to be constructed on Broadway. It is a very bold move to submit such a design since people will inevitably shout that it doesn’t compliment the character of the neighborhood.

Gone are the atrium peaks that echoed the features of Broadway buildings past. Gone are the bricks and morter of the twenty five year old structure, replaced with glass and beige block. The overall style is definately Mid Century Modern. If you notice the horizontal overhangs, and exceptionally strong vertical lines in the windows, it harks back to a early sixties shopping mall – and I don’t mean this in a bad way.

Mid Century Modern Style

Mid Century Modern Style

or

Mid Century Shopping Center

Mid Century Shopping Center

The classic features of mid century design are the large rectangular areas and long horizontal lines. The City Center concept ads a modern touch with its large glass walls and the interesting “V” shaped corner. This type of styling has a tendancy to go well with a many types of design styles, and in that respect it was an excellent choice for downtown Saratoga Springs.

Here are a few design ideas for marketing the new City Center

Illustration Styling That Could Be Used For the City Center

Advertising Style That Could Be Used For the City Center

Illustration Style for New City Center

Illustration Style for New City Center

Mid Century Modern Man Who Will Visit the City Center

Mid Century Modern Man Who Will Visit the City Center

I like the fact that there will be a modern building in the city, someone had to do it at some point. It is a nice looking structure that has its own character but not obtrusive to neighboring buildings. It will enhance downtown and give us a City Center we can be proud of twenty five years from now.

Does anyone know who the Architect is??

Picture Shows On Broadway

The Times Union Published this view of a Broadway Movie Theater Concept. It is proposed by a private firm. It is a brick building with interesting windows. It seems the private firm envisions it located in the parking lot next to the Algonquin Building- see upper left side of image. It has no unique features, it is what I would consider a “B” building. This means on it’s own it doesn’t make a statement, but it would lend support to making the Algonquin Building look even better. It would enhance the surrounding architecture to be better as a whole.

I’m glad it is a concept, and if it ever actually happens, lets hope for once the final product can be as good or better.

Cinema Proposal on Broadway in Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs Cinema Proposal on Broadway

Saving Sixty Six

There has been lot of news coverage spent on an old building located just off Franklin Square. It seems that it will be a fight to the bitter end whether 66 Franklin Street will be saved or not. The sometimes overzealous Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is determined to save the old structure, while the owner, Joseph Boff, is wagering he can tear it down.

66 Franklin Should Be Saved

66 Franklin Should Be Saved

The question each side will ask: is building worth saving? And each will give a different answer.

Here are a series of question that should be asked
1. Is the building relevant to Saratoga Spring history?
2. Is the architecture of such distinction that it carries special value?
3. Is there enough of the architecture still existing to have it remain of historical value?
4. Was the architect prominent in the development of Saratoga Springs
I believe the answer is yes on all counts.

Of course Mr. Boff will present a cost analysis of the building and lot value compared to rehab costs. But this is not a valid, because Mr. Boff bought the building already knowing the answer. He purchased it knowing this information, his intent was to try and knock it down. This is a fight that he believed he would win before he made the transaction.

Mr. Boff rebuilt the Crafters Gallery Building, and did an incredible job. Yet he seems to have fallen short on this project. Since he knew what the cost would be, and if he loses his gamble, he should have to pay the cost.

The Chosen Olsen

George and Claudia Olsen have designed many Sonny Bonaccio buildings. If anything defines their firm it will forever be Railroad Avenue in Saratoga Springs. I’m not sure exactly when they were brought into the mix, if it was after the first located directly opposite of the Wise Building at 28 Division (which was originally a Bob Isreal project) or Sonny’s subsequent condominiums along the western side of the street. The fact is, the development of Railroad Avenue is the most noticeable group of construction projects in the entire city, and the Olsen’s have played a large part in what it is today. Twelve years ago it was nothing but dirt fields – not pretty and it certainly wasn’t a loss of greenspace in town. The question is, were Olsen Architects the company to design such prominent structures in the first place?

Now that may be a harsh question, that I didn’t subject any other firm to such a negativity. But no other architect built an entire city street in such a prominent location.

 What I know about them is from speaking to people in the industry and in town gossip. Their website has been under construction and I can’t get any information about the firm as they see themselves. They are long time Saratoga business people. As long as I can remember they have been part of the Long Alley group of professionals. Since I can’t steal project images from their website, I will have to show images of the buildings I know for a fact that they have designed.

85 – 87 Railroad Avenue. 

Since people have so much emotion related to the buildings on Railraod Avenue, I want to be objective and judge them strictly on their design and relationship to the existing Saratoga Springs architecture. 

85-87 Railroad Avenue looking from Congress Street.

85-87 Railroad Avenue looking from Congress Street.

In comparison to the balconies of 28 Division St.

In comparison to the balconies of 28 Division St.

85-87 Railroad Ave. was the third of the Condominiums on that street to be constructed. Many Architectural Elements were picked up from the original building on the corner of Railroad and Franklin (28 Division) the corner entrance with brick and concrete highlighted facade, the black posts rising up through the curved balconies, are all similarities from 28 Division. 

I have always like the original design, especially the curved balconies that protrude out onto Division Street. Although this building is a little more “off the rack” in style I still like it. The squareness is the first thing that strikes you, because the top floor apartments are no longer set back from the edge of the building as was done at 28 Division. 

The fact that I like both of these buildings seems to put me in the minority of those I talk to. The line I most often hear i The buildings don’t relate to the overall feeling of Saratoga Springs, or they are to big. What does that mean? Why don’t people complain about the Wise Building then? That building is a giant box, are boxes Victorian? Is the Algonquin building a tiny building?

These two buildings work well in Saratoga Springs for many reasons. First they are deeply urban in style, when you walk along the sidewalk, you get the feeling of being in a large city. This is consistent with the city in the country idea. The use of cylinder steel posts that rise from the entrance to the top of the building relate to the old porches of Broadway hotels. Now that might seem like a stretch, but there is some justification. 

The balconies and curved entrace roofline give this building an Urban and Victorian feel.

The balconies and curved entrace roofline give this building an Urban and Victorian feel.

The building sandwiched in between the two end structures is also quite unique although not quite as noticable, The below ground offices between the stooped stairways make it a nice walk in summer or winter. Not every building can be a gem, some are built for no other purpose that to make another building look good. And for this building it works. As a whole, all three buildings work well together. The retail and office spaces are quaint and give a small cobbler feel rather than the very big window stores on Broadway. These are nice buildings.

That sums up the west side of Railroad Avenue with a pretty high ranking. Unfortunately it is accross the street from this!

The entire East side of Railroad Avenue.

The entire East side of Railroad Avenue.

I don’t know what happened but something must have gone wrong here. I have trouble just gathering a good view of what this building actually looks like. Part fortress, part townhome, part tutor style . . .

Notice Tutor styling on right side.

Notice Tutor styling on right side.

This is where it gets its name from and there aren't a lot of these in Downtown Saratoga Springs

This is where it gets its name from, and there aren't a lot of these in Downtown Saratoga Springs.

. . . part giant balconies in front, part small balconey on sides, there are trees growing on the fortress walls, there are windows that aren’t really windows. whew?

This building speaks of maximum profit. There is no consistent design or organization, because there had to be something everywhere. A balcony had to stick out of a side wall so they could sell a condo that had a balcony. Everyplace had to have a view, so they made an angle to put a window facing something – anything. 

I feel bad about this building because it is obviously something that was difficult to design, and the contractor was probably pushing to get money out of every inch. They had parking to consider, code standards to abide by, neighbors to be accountable to, and it shows. 

I don’t know the demands of the builder on the architect. I certainly can’t say I have looked at the property close enough truly understand the footprint of the building. My final complaint, and it may be a small, but when you walk in front of these buildings at night, they shine blinding rays in your eyes from sidewalk mounted flood lights that illuminate the building. 

This brings me to my earlier question. Is Olsen Architecture the company who should have been chosen to build such an important venue. Well I am going to squirm out of answering that because I don’t know if Saratoga Associates, Tom Frost, John Muse, or SD Atelier or Balzer Hodge Tuck could have done any better under the circumstances, but that doesn’t matter. This building now exists. For Olsen Architects, they will have to carry this building with them through time. Maybe they can deflect it onto Sonny Bonaccio, but they are the listed architect. It is a prominent building in the city, and deserves to be discussed when basing future projects on it. 

Shame on the The Design Review committee for letting this building move forward, and shame on Sonny for building it that way, and shame on the qualified architect for caving in and losing some of their integrity.

 

Note: In case you were wondering how this blog works, I have about thirty unfinished articles in the edit box at all times, and this one was no exception. But you may haved looked at the comment section for Balzer Tuck Hodge Associates, and seen the the comment claiming that they designed the 18 Division St. structure. I want you to know that if you comment on an article you will not get an article about yourself, this has been sitting in the bin for well over a month waiting to be completed. The fact is they were next on my list.