Image-free design chosen for Millyard parking garageBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
May 23. 2018 9:08AM
MANCHESTER — A giant flag. Photos of the North and South Canal Building or Stark Yard and Mill. An Amoskeag steam fire engine.
Over a dozen images were suggested as designs to cover one side of a new Millyard parking garage currently under construction, but on Tuesday members of the city’s Heritage Commission voted to go with a clean, gray, image-free design.
Essentially, a 95-by-50-foot blank canvas.
The Heritage Commission last year gave initial approval to a design inspired by an iconic 1914 photo of a giant flag hung on the side of a Millyard building where it was made. The flag was to go on the west side of the six-story garage, located next to Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
Construction on the approximately $50 million garage started April 2. It is expected to open in early summer 2019, and be leased by Southern New Hampshire University.
After expressing concerns last month about plans to cover one side of the garage with a large metal American flag due to the sheer size of the project, developer Peter Flotz offered five alternative image designs, many incorporating birch and other trees.
Heritage Commission members voted unanimously to reject the design alternatives submitted by Flotz, opting instead to have John Clayton, executive director of the Manchester Historic Association, and Daniel Peters, Research and Facilities Manger at the Manchester Historic Association, identify and submit alternatives to the commission for review.
The 95-by-50-foot display was to use perforated aluminum with an iconic image of the city on it.
Clayton and Peters sent along 10 additional suggestions, including black and white images of General John Stark, mill buildings, steam engines and a Mill girl, but none were accepted.
“When we got through all the great suggestions we had, we were liking the cleaner look,” said Flotz. “We felt it was reflective of the new technology in the Millyard.”
“I prefer the cleaner look in this particular case,” Heritage Commission Chairman Kevin McCue said. “When I think about technology, where things are going into the future and the way they are now, I prefer the clean, blank look.”
“With all the images that were suggested, to come back with this blank wall is probably the most banal design you could come up with,” said Bill Stelling of the Heritage Commission. “I’ve also solicited the opinion of the people involved and they’ve expressed similar thoughts — basically that it’s an insult to our intelligence to have it come back to us with this most basic design.”
“I think we have a good combination of old and new here,” said Heritage Commission member Ray Clement. “This is a symbol that we’re moving forward into the 21st century.”
Flotz said he felt the clean design would stand the test of time, even if the building is being used “200 years” from now.
“I don’t know what everybody will be doing with this building in 100 years,” said Flotz. “Maybe it will be the landing pad for the Uber copters.”
Heritage Commission members voted to authorize Flotz to begin moving ahead with a clean, blank, aluminum design for the side wall.