This Architect should have instead been a real estate speculator!

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner

Okay, so the building above will never appear on the cover of “Architectural Record Magazine.” When designing new buildings for historic districts, I do my best to create a structure that does not look 100 years old, but blends in with the urban fabric. This one was on a vacant lot in the Downtown Cartersville, GA Historic District. It is a condominium ownership project that contains a mixture of offices, restaurants, large loft apartments and modest apartments.

The developers of this project were two women, who had been on the governing board of the Roselawn Estate and Museum. I was Roselawn’s Consulting Historic Preservation Architect. This was their first real estate project. I was anxious to demonstrate the ideas that I had first proposed as planning consultant for the Smyrna, GA Downtown Revitalization Project.

I was not allowed to practice architecture in Smyrna, because I had prepared all of Smyrna’s plans, not just the Downtown Development Plan. To design a building, which was subject to zoning and urban design standards, which I had written, might be perceived as a conflict of interest. Thus, my professional commission for this building was very modest. In fact, the two ladies offered me a condo loft apartment, which was finished out for a “model” space, as my commission, but I declined . . . thinking it was more important to pay my monthly bills. Bad mistake! . . . as you will see.

The building did have SOME esthetic features. I always try to design a tree-shaded outdoor dining area for restaurant clients. One of the most successful is on the edge of Downtown Cartersville – Los Arcos Restaurante. At any rate, the occupants of this building love the little plaza.

Integrity Plaza’s outdoor dining plaza
Los Arcos Restaurante

To get to the point . . . over the past two months, I have been converting my decades of photos and CADD drawing files into a portfolio book that will be published. It has been a worthwhile pursuit, because I had forgotten how many buildings that I had designed or restored – well over a thousand!

I have not been in Cartersville in fifteen years and so was curious as to how Integrity Plaza survived the Great Recession. Low and behold there were several real estate ads and notices about Integrity Plaza on the internet. Then there was the shock! The loft apartment, which the developers offered to deed to me just resold for . . .



1 Comment

  1. Yo, at least it looks different from…Never mind. You’re right. Like the marble barn the pope built and Michelangelo had to decorate. Maybe a nice, thick ivy would help? But, in my town, every house was built to the same plan. It was a mining community, the homes built by the company in the early ‘50s. Nice houses but only time and changes in landscaping has made them look a little different. niio

    Liked by 1 person

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