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Durgin Block parking garage update includes glass tower staircases

  • A rendering shows one of two glass tower staircases proposed for the Durgin Block Garage in Concord. H.L. Turner Group / Courtesy

  • A rendering shows one of two glass tower staircases proposed for the Durgin Block Garage on School Street. H.L. Turner Group—

  • The staircases at the Durgin Block parking garage on School Street are currently exposed and rusty. NICK REID—Monitor staff

  • The staircases at the Durgin Block parking garage on School Street are currently exposed and rusty. NICK REID—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Thursday, April 20, 2017

Staircases on either side of the Durgin Block parking garage in Concord are proposed to be replaced with eye-catching glass towers as one aspect of the $4.6 million plan to repair the aging structure.

The Concord-based H.L. Turner Group, the architectural and engineering firm for the project, submitted designs for planning board review and public hearing Wednesday, which revealed the concept to liven up the existing rusty stairs.

Although there were no comments from the public, planning officials have asked that the designers consider incorporating a splash of color on the stairs or railings.

“I don’t know how rainbowy we want it to look from the street,” said Matt Walsh, the city’s director of redevelopment, downtown services and special projects. “We could take that under advisement and take a look at it.”

The public garage between School Street and Warren Street was built in the mid-1980s. It’s set for a major restoration of its steel and concrete.

“The exposed structural steel is corroded in multiple locations,” wrote Turner Group Project Engineer Mark McLeod in the proposal. “Over the past several years, the City has installed supplemental supports as stopgap measures to ensure the structure remains safe for traffic and pedestrians but it has reached a point where a more substantial restoration is required to ensure it does not become a threat to public safety.”

The work will include repairs to all aspects of the garage: structural framing, the deck, three staircases, the elevator, signage and payment systems, among other things. Walsh said construction will begin in June or July.

“It is important to note that the garage will remain open and operational during construction; however limited sections of the structure will be closed intermittently on a short-term basis in order to facilitate the work,” he said.

The city hopes to complete the project, which will go out to bid in the coming weeks, by December 2018.

At their meeting last week, Architectural Design Review Committee members noted that the garage is located in an area with heavy foot traffic and supported the concept of making it “more engaging and less utilitarian,” according to meeting minutes.

“Members suggested that art work could be incorporated in some way, that colored glass panels could be used in the stairwells, and/or that the railings and stairwells could be painted bold or varying colors to add a more exciting or creative element,” the minutes said.

Councilor Byron Champlin, who represents the city council on the planning board, said he hoped the garage could incorporate some sort of art. He pointed to the mural high schoolers are designing for the Ralph Pill building as an example.

“It’s removable. It’s not permanent. There are things like that that can be done – and really should be done – to make this more than your standard, ugly parking garage,” he said. “Although I think the stairway design is beautiful.”

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)