Category Archives: architecture

Look! Our namesake made a Gizmodo list!

Birmingham_Terminal_interiorThe namesake of this nearly seven year-old website, Birmingham’s old Terminal Station, stirs up emotions at the mere mention of its name. It’s no surprise to us that Gizmodo would include the building, demolished in 1969 to make way for a proposed Social Security building, in its list of “9 of the Most Beautiful Buildings We Ever Tore Down” posted to their site this morning. They most likely found the building as a result of its inclusion in a list posted on its sister site Jalopnik in April 2010.

We’ve often wondered what it would’ve been like to take a stroll through the front door of this magnificent structure. Thankfully, we just discovered this fly-through of a rendering of the 1909 building for use in Minecraft courtesy of The Sucky Gamers on YouTube. It’ll at least give you an idea of the space…


The list has been picked up by both (complete with a survey seeing how many knew of the building’s existence) and the Birmingham Business Journal today, leading to many comments about its demise. The proposed Social Security building ended up being placed just north of the central business district – and once again serves as the source of much serious conversations related to the future of the city of Birmingham (as evidenced in today’s Dear Birmingham post).

Photo: Courtesy of Birmingham Public Library archives.

Pratt City library celebrates reopening today

Parking lot entrance of Pratt City Library. acnatta/FlickrThe start of a new week also meant the start of a new era at the Pratt City branch of the Birmingham Public Library. The building re-opened Monday morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony – one originally scheduled for January 30 but postponed due to our recent issues with winter weather. The building, mostly destroyed by a tornado on April 27, 2011, replaces one that opened on the site in 1993.

As Alabama’s 13 pointed out in its coverage, the library sits in its old location, though the address has been changed to reflect it no longer facing Hibernian Street, but Dugan. The branch’s entrance from the parking lot greets patrons with a new metal sign (as seen in the image accompanying this post).

Its kitchen/break room will now serve as a storm shelter, capable of holding 25 people if necessary. The new building also includes new terrazzo floors with a map showing the location of major sites located throughout Pratt City and quotes lining the top of the walls surrounding its main reading room.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, speaking to reporters before the start of the ceremony, referenced the significance of the $10 million TIGER grant awarded to the city of Birmingham in June 2012 for its “Roads to Recovery” effort in the rebuilding effort of the library and the surrounding area. A portion of those TIGER funds may have been used for the project itself as it contains new bike racks and is located at a BJCTA bus stop. According to an email from the public library announcing Monday’s event, the Daniel Foundation, the Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Foundation, Alabama Forever, the Greystone Foundation, the Alabama Public Library Service, the Alabama Humanities Foundation, Bobby Humphrey’s Legends of the Iron Bowl Run for Recovery 5K, and Kingsley Metal Works USA also contributed funding and time toward the project.

It’s quickly becoming a busy period for the library as it recently announced plans to renovate its downtown location. They’re asking the public for input in the processbefore February 17.

A new plan for a Standard site across from Railroad Park

parksideaptsiteAs dirt was moving to enabling the street in front of it to be repaved this morning, schematic approval was given for a new residential development along 1st Avenue South between 17th and 18th Streets by Birmingham’s Design Review Committee. The working name for the proposed S-shaped building, presented by CRD, RR, LLC, is Parkside Apartments.

The proposal, which must now return before the committee for approval of materials and finishes in addition to final design, calls for it to contain 237 rental units, (22% of them 2 bedroom units),  meaning as many as 286 residents living across from Railroad Park. It is estimated the $21 million project could break ground within the next 10 weeks according to David Austin, representing GA Studio this morning. The current proposal suggests a mix of metal panels, stucco, and brick veneer. Amenities for residents would include a fitness center, 2nd floor garden terrace, and pool.

The $21 million project is slated to sit on the site once considered for construction of the Standard at Midtown, a $40 million 11-story development containing 145 units, a mix of both condominiums and rentals, proposed by Corporate Realty Development (one of the companies involved in this new effort) back in 2004.

There were some concerns raised about the lack of retail spaces represented in the schematic plans reviewed by the committee. The working draft of the city’s comprehensive plan was referenced by one member as they pointed out the hope for more mixed  use development opportunities to be undertaken, particularly given this site’s location across from the award-winning park. When asked by the committee to explain the situation, Austin from stated it was due to current market conditions, pointing to existing retail spaces currently vacant in mixed-use projects in the immediate area, including Cityville.

Parking was also talked about, specifically in relation to the amount of space it takes up versus potential commercial opportunities. The schematic shows there would be two levels of parking accessible from the alley, a move necessary in order to accommodate one parking space per tenant. The plan shows street level would contain 131 spaces. The proposed 4 or 5 story structure would be the first project built since developers signed a compact in early 2010 committing to handling parking inside the block whenever possible. Time will tell whether this and other developments will resemble any of the conceptual proposals presented at that time.

UPDATED: End may be near for former Social Grill location

socialfenceUPDATE: There’s a new sign in front of the former Social Grill building. Click here for the update.

If you drive by 23rd St. and 3rd Ave. N. in recent days, you’ve probably noticed a fence around the former home of The Social Grill and two smaller structures located to its south. A quick jaunt to the back of the building shows a pretty big piece of heavy machinery waiting to do some serious work.

It probably wouldn’t be a  big deal, until you remember the information Jeremy Erdreich shared over on his site back in September 2011.  As he states in the post, approval of demolition for that building and the ones already owned by Crook would normally need to be granted by the city’s Design Review Committee. A quick look through recent meeting agendas doesn’t readily show that approval was granted or if the plan for demolition has gone before them, but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t already been approved.

3.28.2013, 8:30 p.m. – This afternoon there was a new addition to the scene, a sign announcing a new Cadence Bank location on the corner. There hasn’t been an opportunity to reach out for any additional information, but we’ll share more after following up with the bank.

The need for parking adjacent to the ever burgeoning 2nd Ave. N. is interesting to watch, especially considering the close proximity to 723 parking spaces contained in the Birmingham Parking Authority‘s Lot “A” on Morris Avenue.

Iron pour formally kicks off Sloss’ visitors center construction

Commemorative Iron Pour underwayThis afternoon city officials, members of Sloss Furnaces‘ board of directors and members of the general public gathered for something a little different than your regular groundbreaking for its visitors center. Those gathered in the shed of the historic site got to witness an iron pour commemorating the start of construction of the new 10,000 square foot facility next week.

The pour was no doubt a nod to the national historic landmark site’s designation as the only 20th century blast furnace being interpreted as a museum in the country as well as its reputation throughout the country as a center for metal arts. According to the press release for the event, the space “will use applied science, history, and interactive technology” as it attempts to inform visitors about the iron-making process. As reported yesterday by The Birmingham News, the Sloss Foundation will be covering $1 million of the cost of construction & all of the currently estimated $3 million cost for creating the center’s exhibits. The remaining $4 million will be covered by the city.

If you’ve never experienced an iron pour at Sloss, here’s a taste:


The visitors center is scheduled to open in late 2013.

Plan to save Birmingham’s Powell School on the table today

Powell School post fire. acnatta/FlickrSince we’ve already mentioned The Birmingham News earlier, today a story was posted to their website talking about a possible plan in place to save the historic Powell School building in downtown Birmingham from the wrecking ball.

According to the piece, the proposal currently on the table for consideration by the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee this afternoon would give the city’s oldest school building to the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. The city would give them up to six months to secure a developer and stabilize the structure or else the building would be demolished.

Sam Frazier is presenting the proposal on behalf of the Trust and he’s got personal experience in saving historic structures. He serves as chairman of Birmingham’s Design Review Committee, the National Trust for Historic Preservation advisor from Alabama and a member of the Alabama Trust’s board.

Needless to say that many people in the city are hopeful that the building can be saved, especially when you see how many blog posts and photos exist across the web sharing that sentiment. This list includes the front page of the Alabama Trust’s Spring 2011 newsletter. The school was named for the first president of the Elyton Land Company, the real estate company responsible for the city’s existence.

Photo: Powell School post fire. acnatta/Flickr

Proposed Five Points Chick-Fil-A now has no drive-thru

CIMG0005UPDATE: Joseph Baker, president of I Believe in Birmingham, has posted a statement on the organization’s Facebook page this evening.

Applause erupted this afternoon during a subcommittee meeting of Birmingham’s Design Review Committee as representatives from Chick-Fil-A informed committee members and others gathered that the proposed Five Points South location would not include a drive-through.

The fast-food chain plans to present a conceptual proposal to the full committee during next Wednesday morning’s regularly scheduled meeting. That proposal will incorporate points and suggestions made by the subcommittee today.

Chick-Fil-A also announced that they planned to use and modify the existing building on the site – a former Ruby Tuesday’s location – as well as incorporate a playground and outdoor seating. Reusing the existing structure would also allow them to move forward with the project quickly.

The number of parking spaces would be reduced from 90 to 74. There was also a question about if there would be a change in operating hours as a result of the prominent location; they said that none was planned.

Photo: Chick-Fil-A presents to Design Review Committee subcommittee. acnatta/Flickr