Developers broke ground on the 32-story building at 360 State late September; now, they are trying to avoid broken spirits.
Planners said they hope the intricacies of the project, which is located across the street from the State Street train station, will not suffer during what will likely be an expensive and time-consuming construction process — especially given the current economic climate.
Although both the University and the city have recently cut back on their capital-project spending, the developers of 360 State said they have no plans of slowing down and hope their project will revitalize downtown by providing a new hub for the city’s public transportation.
Project developer Bruce Becker of Becker and Becker said 360 State has the potential, as a form of “transit-oriented development,” to be a great focal point for the area’s public transportation. In addition to being close to the train station, the plot of land is surrounded by numerous bus stops, and the developers said they plan to install indoor bicycle storage units in the complex. Becker said he hopes the availability of public transportation will encourage residents to be less dependent on their cars.
Theprinciple behind the building harkens back to the city’s recently launched Safe Streets Campaign, which aims to reconcile the different needs of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The developers’ emphasis on public transportation — the building includes a four-floor parking garage to keep cars off the streetside, for example — is not only significant for creating a friendly, pedestrian-accessible downtown area, but it will help guide pedestrians toward more sustainable transportation options, School of Architecture professor Elihu Rubin noted.
“It is a real opportunity to, in a sense, correct the issue of Union Station,” Rubin said. “It is so far removed from downtown, and the walk from Yale or the financial district is uncomfortable on foot. This development is a real chance to update the State Street station to an urban rail terminal.”
Becker also mentioned that as a hub for street-level activity, the tower will be consistent with the rest of Chapel Street. The developers will work to integrate the commercial floors of the tower with the existing storefronts in the area, he said.
Becker and Becker is working with Kent Bloomer, a professor at the Yale School of Architecture and owner of Bloomer Studio, to design ornaments that will decorate the parking garage and create a more pleasant view of the building from the street. Bloomer said he is working on large trellises that will line the upper part of the façade and beyond the roof of the parking garage, where trees and a swimming pool will be located.
“Part of the garden overflows onto the façade,” Bloomer said. “We’re designing almost 100 feet of tree-like trellises that engage the garden as it comes down.”
Bloomer said the purpose of the ornamentation is to ensure that 360 State will continue with the rhythms of Chapel Street.
“It’s not Disney,” he said. “It’s not an effort to put something there that’s not. We just want to take something that will exist and make it more magnificent and friendly.”
But Alan Plattus, a professor at the Yale School of Architecture, said the downturn in the economy may force the developers to prioritize more strictly when it comes to the extra frills.
“I think the concern that I have is that in a tight market, it’ll be difficult for the developer to do everything architecturally,” he said.
Construction on 360 State is expected to be completed by 2010, Becker said.