Thursday, May 3, 2012

Market Building's Ugly, Worthless Kiosk Coming Down

This photo gives you an idea how big and intrusive--and empty--the kiosk is.
The operators of the Roanoke City Market building have listened to the blaring sound of silence and decided to remove that unfortunate kiosk smack in the middle of the main floor, a design flaw (among many) that sucked the life out of a once-vibrant and alive space.

Roanoke brought in an out-of-town design firm to re-design the historic building and the result was a building without life. The board that operates the building has decided to cut its losses and take steps to improve the flow of the first floor.

It is difficult to fault either the Market Building Foundation or Hall Associates (the leasing agent) for the bizarre kiosk and I suspect credit should be given both of those organizations for recognizing the design failure and repairing the damage this early in the process.

Here is my post criticizing the unused kiosks last week and following is the Market Building Foundation's press release:

The Market Building Foundation, Inc. and Hall Associates Inc. has announced a new plan for the first floor common area of the City Market Building. The four retail "kiosk" spaces on the first floor will be removed and replaced with flexible seating/ stage modules that will also include live trees and shrubs.

Designed by Roanoke design firm Clark-Nexsen*, these changes will add much needed vibrancy and life to the building. Additionally, they will open up the floor space for seating and traffic flow, as well as add an opportunity for live acoustic music during the lunch and dinner hours.

In addition to changing the kiosks into seating and staging, two more kitchens will be added on the Market St. side to increase dining options as well as recoup the rental that the kiosk spaces were intended to generate. These kitchens will be smaller than the original eight and will be more geared toward small fare with the potential for walkup grab-and-go service from the outside doors.

While the Board has approved moving forward with this project, the final plans and permits still need to be put into place before construction begins. Doug Waters, Market Building Foundation Inc. Board Chairman, says, "We have worked hard to realize the vision that our architects and several previous planners had for the center of the Market Building, but have concluded that what looks good in a drawing does not always work so well in real life. With our planned changes, we believe that the lively heart of the Market Building will be unleashed at the same time we expand the array of cuisines and retail that our patrons are enjoying."

(* Clark-Nexsen is not a "Roanoke design firm." It is based in Norfolk, but has an office in Roanoke.)

This note comes via Facebook from John Garland of Spectrum Design whose initial design for the renovation was rejected by Roanoke City, though it was far superior to the one selected: "How in the world did Clark Nexsen get on the Market Building Board’s radar, in order to get this design work? Their office here is a bunch of Civil engineers. So screw it up with a D.C. architect and try to fix it with a Norfolk architect, when the talent is under their noses."


  1. Hmmm....My architect friends at Clark-Nexsen might disagree with you, John Garland! Plenty of homegrown talent over there!

  2. I recently had the privilege of volunteering alongside Clark Nexsen Roanoke architects at an AIA event for children. There is a lot of talent in their local office and I am continually impressed by CN Roanoke’s commitment to the community and to the architecture profession.

  3. In response to Mr. Garland’s note, Clark Nexsen’s Roanoke office which was established over 10 years ago is staffed with very talented local architects and engineers who are committed to design excellence and outstanding client service. As a full service firm with a variety of completed local projects, we are excited by the opportunity to demonstrate our abilities by serving the design needs of the City Market Building. We offer an open invitation to Mr. Garland to drop by our office at his leisure and familiarize himself with our staff.

    David J. Moniot, AIA, LEED AP
    Clark Nexsen Senior Architect - Roanoke

  4. John Garland stands corrected. My understanding is that the CN's Roanoke's office started with civil engineers and has expanded over the years to include architecture. I guess I better keep up with the changing times. My apologies. I would love to meet the talented staff of CN's Roanoke office.