Tag Archives: Architecture Saratoga Springs

Phinney Design Group

If you have been to the neighborhood bar, The Local, you might have a pretty good feel what Mike Phinney is all about.

 

The Local Logo

The Local Logo

 

The ski lodge like atmosphere must be his alter ego because his office environment is a stress filled, fast moving gush of creative thought and production. Every organization has a way of getting a human thought to a finished product, the Phinney Design Group pours emotion, soul, madness, laughter and sweat into projects that show good understanding of design, materials, fenestration, and proportion.

The Phinney Design Logo

The Phinney Design Logo

Like many small architectural companies they work on residential and commercial projects. As you peruse through his work, you find an easy rustic feel in some form or another. Over the last five years he has gained quite a bit of notoriety as a green builder. His work is showing up more and more in the city of Saratoga Springs. Some of the work is in town, but most seems to fit best in a more rural setting. 

He is a small firm of about five or six people. This still gives him a pretty good payroll each week, but nothing like Saratoga Associates but far exceeding the Frost Architecture business model. From his website, I couldn’t find a lot of work in the city, but I will focus on two projects within the city limits. 

The first project has to be The Local on the corner of Beekman and Grand. Since they serve beer, it is a very important building. The upper floors also house his offices. Many architects are building modern versions of a mission bungalow or a reproduction of an old carriage house, not Phinney Design. They are comfortable with, a ski lodge, or a civilized version of an Adirondack great camp. With the snow storm this week, I had to steal these images from the Phinney Website, please accept my apologies.

The Corner of Beekman and Grand Streets
The Corner of Beekman and Grand Streets

Their use of materials is so unique for a building in the city. They didn’t pick up any styles from the neighborhood or Saratoga Spring in general. In the end it still looks comfortable sitting on a corner in the city. Walking a fine line of being a unique building and comfortably in place is a difficult thing to do. Often these efforts result in some sort of albatross that has no relationship to its environment.

Large Arching Windows on the Ground Floor

Large Arching Windows on the Ground Floor

Unlike the Adirondack Trusts arching windows on Church Street, Phinney’s windows give the ground floor of the building a strong urban feel – they don’t reek of 1975. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t as if this is the most original building or even that different from his other building designs. What they has done is take his design esthetic and make in work in a city environment. They didn’t try to throw so many things in a pile just to make everyone at the DRC happy.

764 North Broadway

Finally, I’m including a building that has not been built yet. I feel odd about this because I could design a building that hasn’t been built also, but that doesn’t mean it will ever get built – But the renderings were so nice I chose it anyway.

764 North Broadway Rendering

764 North Broadway Rendering

 Many of North Broadways mansions were considered summer homes when they were originally built, and this design definitely carries that theme throughout the building. Again, you can see the Phinney features in its styling, but it has an abundance of elegance when looking at it. The heavy stone work has a very Adirondack feel, but the small third floor windows give the house a sophisticated feeling. The window placement is almost artistic and is what enables this building to sit on North Broadway. 

 

Elevation  of the back side

Elevation of the back side

There is only one change I believe would help, and that would be to paint the singled siding a darker color. Many of the older mansions were much darker that their current state, and it made them much smaller in stature. But now a days if you can afford a big building, you want everyone to see that you can afford a big building.

The Phinney Design Group currently has made little impact on the City of Saratoga Springs, and I don’t know if his style will be accepted as an Saratoga type home. Most of his work seems to be in the northern rural areas, and that makes sense, but he has shown that he can create an urban home also, that is unique and could become small landmarks in the future of Saratoga Springs.

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The Legacy of Frost Architecture

There have been many books written on the architecture of Saratoga Springs. Not that here isn’t a lot of nice architecture in the city, but it is a small city. Is the architecture that much better than other historic towns and villages that compels people to start writing books about our buildings? Part of the reason is that the history of these building have been well documented. You can find plenty articles and images to help tell your story.  Architects such as Newton Brezee, and John A. Wood, have created trademark buildings that will forever define the landscape of the city. 

Frost Architecture is a firm authors will write about in future Saratoga Springs Architecture Books. No other local Architect has been involved with so many major projects that have effected the major intersections of the city.

Locations Frost Architecture Buildings in the Downtown Saratoga Area

Locations Frost Architecture Buildings in the Downtown Saratoga Area

Tom Frost is the Principal of Saratoga’s most prestigious Architectural Firm. He has degrees from Princeton and Harvard. His office is located on Long Alley with many other professional firms.

Office Building of Frost Architecture in Saratoga Springs

Office Building of Frost Architecture in Saratoga Springs

 

Entrance way to the building

Entrance way to the building

One of the strangest things about Frost Architecture is the fact that almost all of his work is located in the city. There is no other firm who is even close to working in this manner. I can only attribute this to the fact that he is able to maintain a small staff and keep overhead low. This enables him to work within such a small environment. His staff never really grows larger than three to six members. It is actually boggling to see so much work done by such few people.

In the last fifteen years he has designed more buildings on broadway than any other single architect in history. The Pfeil Building, The Roohan Building, Borders Books, The APlus Gas station and a portion of the hotel (with many names) attached to the City Center.

 

Pfeil Building Elevation Sketch
Pfeil Building Elevation Sketch
The Pfeil Building As It Looks Today

The Pfeil Building As It Looks Today

 

Roohan Building Sketch

Roohan Building Sketch

 

The Roohan Building

The Roohan Building

Although the CVS Building is not exactly on Broadway it is located in a very high traffic Area. This isn’t the best of Mr. Frosts work, but considering what CVS usually does, it is a work of art. Actually I believe it could have been an incredible building with just a few different materials to help make some of the nice details stand out a little bit more. Everything is made from the same color bricks. A few transitions would be nice.

 

The CVS Building

The CVS Building

 

The Update of the N.Fox Building

The Update of the N.Fox Building

 The Boders Bookstore building is one of the prime spots on all of broadway. It replaced the old Red Barn that was painted a yellow beige and housed Popes Pizza.

The Borders Bookstore Building

The Borders Bookstore Building

If you have ever read the Fountainhead, Mr. Frost would actually be the architect that Howard Roark worked for at his first job after school. He has a great Website also a http://www.frostarchitecture.com. If you look at the site is actually about himself.

From Grassroots to Saratoga Associates

Here is a company that is steeped in the history of the Saratoga Springs rejuvenation. In the early seventies, Saratoga Springs was a failing city, losing what was left of her grandeur. With no business model to follow, a group of business owners, city fathers, and a city planning firm called Saratoga Associates, banded together to create one of the great revitalization projects in the country. Since then cities throughout the country have followed this formula to rejuvenate their communities. Today, The Saratoga Associates has become one of the premier planning and design firms, not only in Saratoga but the north east.

The Saratoga Associates Logo

The Saratoga Associates Logo

The Saratoga Associates are located in the old YMCA building

The Saratoga Associates are located in the old YMCA building

Bob Bristol is a Founder, current chair, CEO and President, Senior Principal at this time. He and the original founders had all but retired from day to day operations, when their replacement Dan Sitler was overcome by cancer. This tragedy brought Mr. Bristol back to the helm again.

On their Website their mission is – Creating Compelling Destinations, Enriching Communities, Safeguarding Special Places. 
Their services include Landscape Architecture, Architecture and Interior Design, Civil Engineering, Planning & Economic Development, Environmental Regulatory Planning. 

We will focus on their two main local projects in Saratoga Springs. The Saratoga Associates have based their entire business model on their role in the redevelopment of the downtown area of Saratoga Springs. That model was simple

  • Keep downtown the main business center
  • Get People to live within walking distance of downtown
  • Promote businesses that will supply people living in the area with the things they want. 
  • Create governing bodies that will guide this program slowly towards its goal.

And this is the program the the Saratoga Associates has gone on to promote since the day they had a hand in developing it.

Street Wayfinding signage, Building Signage Standards and Historic Buildings

Street Wayfinding signage, Building Signage Standards and Historic Buildings

Green Areas on Streetscape

Green Areas on Streetscape

Broadway in Saratoga Springs 1997

Broadway in Saratoga Springs 1997

The other great Saratoga Landmark that the Saratoga Associates has had a lasting impression on is the Saratoga Race Track. They have created three buildings that will define that track for possibly one hundred years.

Main entrance to Saratoga Race Track

Main entrance to Saratoga Race Track Photo by Randal Perry

Jockey Club Exterior

Jockey Club Exterior Photo by Randal Perry

Jockey Club Interior Photo by Randal Perry

Jockey Club Interior Photo by Randal Perry

It is hard to describe how an organization like the Saratoga Associates has effected our daily lives. Planning is a hard thing to point out as you walk along broadway. There are so many people who have had a hand in the final changes once they began, but there had to be an original thinker that could create and explain a vision so those that followed could move forward. Saratoga Associates are not working in the city very much these days, so it is hard to think of them as a mover ad shaker in town. But it was their minds that got things started.