Designs unveiled for new superior court, White Park skate house

  • Architectural renderings developed by C.N. Carley Associates of Concord depict the replacement Merrimack County Superior Court. C.N. Carley Associates—Rendering

  • Architectural renderings developed by C.N. Carley Associates of Concord depict the planned replacement for the Merrimack County Superior Court. Courtesy images

  • Designs by the H.L. Turner Group of Concord depict the skate house and surrounding grounds at White Park in Concord. H.L. Turner Group—

  • Designs by the H.L. Turner Group of Concord depict the planned skate house and surrounding grounds at White Park in Concord.

  • Designs by the H.L. Turner Group of Concord depict the skate house and surrounding grounds at White Park in Concord. H.L. Turner Group—

  • Designs by the H.L. Turner Group of Concord depict the skate house and surrounding grounds at White Park in Concord. H.L. Turner Group—

  • Designs by the H.L. Turner Group of Concord depict the skate house and surrounding grounds at White Park in Concord. H.L. Turner Group—

Monitor staff
Published: 3/7/2017 11:55:39 PM

Architectural firms offered a look inside their plans for two prominent city buildings Tuesday – and a look inside is exactly what their heavily windowed designs offer.

The two pending developments in Concord’s fourth ward – the new Merrimack County Superior Court and the redesigned skate house at White Park – passed through a design review committee Tuesday, revealing a number of features and plenty of glass on their facades.

The projects don’t need the same approvals that private developers would, since they’re proposed by the city and county, but their architects reported in as a courtesy to hear feedback from the Architectural Design Review Committee.

They also shared their visions for the two high-profile public buildings.

The courthouse, where construction is slated to begin this spring, features an almost purely glass front looking toward North Main Street to the east.

Architect Chris Carley of the Concord-based C.N. Carley Associates noted that courthouses are designed as if they’re multiple buildings under one roof – to keep the public, the judges and the prisoners apart from one another. The glass facade offers a view into the most public aspects of the court: the two-story lobby and the clerk’s office, he said.

The new courthouse will be built on top of the current courthouse’s parking lot; the old building will then be turned into county offices. The major challenge of keeping the 35,000-square-foot court downtown – as opposed to early plans to move it near the state office complex across the river – was in providing sufficient parking during the estimated 18-month construction process.

Carley said the result is heavy on pavement – “not necessarily our first choice” – but meets the 150-car parking requirement.

“That’s why you see the lot so heavily developed,” Carley told the committee. “We’re very mindful of the fact that, were this an ordinary project in the city, we wouldn’t be able to do this, because it violates the zoning ordinance and I know it violates a few of the planning ordinance requirements.”

He added: “Alas, that is what we’re confronted with. So how do we make the most of it? How do we create the best possible result? (That) is the challenge we face.”

Carley noted that the project’s landscape architect, Doug Greiner, has “jealously guarded” what green spaces are available.

The designers will also work to shield the vast parking lot on North Main Street from the view of passers-by to avoid the appearance of a “sea of parking,” Carley said. The proposal hopes to achieve this by using a retaining wall and landscaping near the road, leaving the elevated old court peeking over the top.

“What we’re hoping is that we can design this thing in such a way that the casual viewer walking along here sees wall and then building above it, as opposed to seeing automobiles,” he said.

The plan for the White Park skate house underwent a hearing of its own. That proposal, designed by the Concord-based H.L. Turner Group, seeks to replace the dilapidated and disused facility next to the skating pond, where residents used to rent skates, drink hot chocolate and warm up by a fire.

The replacement would bring back those traditional services and add outdoor seating, an outdoor fireplace and a route – possibly along seasonal rubber mats or a wooden walkway – that allows skaters to lace up inside and walk to the ice, said the architect, Doug Proctor.

Like the court, it would also put a new, glass face on an old landmark. The existing skate house would be demolished.

“We tried to do a nice, glass front, so it kind of looks like a lantern at nighttime, with the pond and everything,” Proctor said.

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




Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2019 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy