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Giant metal American flag for $50M parking garage in iconic Millyard is too big

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 20. 2018 9:32AM
Site work is underway for the 1,700-spot parking garage, part of SNHU expansion, at Langer Place mill in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A large metal American flag that a city commission approved to cover one side of a new Millyard parking garage is likely to get scrapped.

“When we tried to lay it out on the actual proportions of the metal panels, it was way taller than the building itself,” garage developer Peter Flotz said Thursday. “I have some other ideas, none ready to show yet.”

Construction on the approximately $50 million garage started April 2; it is expected to open in early summer 2019.

The Heritage Commission last year gave initial approval to a large metal American flag design that was inspired by an iconic 1914 photo of a giant flag hung on the side of a Millyard building. It was to go on the west side of the six-story garage — to be leased to Southern New Hampshire University — next to Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, where the New Hampshire Fisher Cats play.

“There is no change in thinking, but I think everybody misinterpreted the flag as a done deal,” said Flotz, whose company owns the garage property and adjacent Langer Place Mill.

John Clayton, executive director of the Manchester Historic Association, came up with the flag idea.

“It was my understanding the flag design was approved and I endorsed it for that reason,” Clayton said. “If there’s another image being considered, I hope I’m consulted for an opinion if this building is going to be an iconic fit in the Millyard.”

Commission member Michael Duffy said “the commission loved” the flag rendering when it was presented last year before later hearing that the concept didn’t work.

“Lots of other suggestions were made, including leaving it unadorned or using an alternative historic image,” said Duffy, the commission’s secretary. “The image has yet to be decided.”

Flotz said “I have no idea” whether a more abstract vision being pursued will include a U.S. flag or not.

In this preliminary design, a large metal American flag, inspired by an iconic 1914 photo, would have covered athe west face of a new parking garge under construction in the Millyard near Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. (COURTESY)

The flag idea was to use perforated aluminum that replicated a 1914 photo taken of assembled Millyard workers with a 95-by-50-foot flag hanging on the building where it had been made. The design was also to include silhouettes of people at the bottom.

Flotz said several “concepts” were submitted to the commission, including “a birch forest, which was an effort to marry the state tree with the contrasting built environment of the Millyard.”

“We presented concepts and when we came back with more refinement they gave guidance and we are refining more,” Flotz said. “This is a $1.5 million piece of metal that needs careful and thoughtful design. It can’t change once it’s up, so we are taking our time and really thinking about it.”

Design is a process, so there’s always refinement, he said.

“It’s art, so we can’t make everybody happy,” Flotz said. “But we are leaning toward something that is more abstract than literal at the urging of the Heritage Commission.”

Flotz expects the garage to open months ahead of earlier projections.

“I took a chance and signed the contract for the pre-cast concrete in February, so that production could get moving early,” Flotz said. “It’s paid off.”

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