Architectural feud: Designer challenges Novare to a duel over its proposed Midtown apartment highrise

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Did a local designer come up with a better version of Novare’s designs? You decide.

UPDATE (September 1, 2011): Shocker: Novare Group to spend $34 million building 325,600-square-foot Midtown apartment highrise

Kyle Benedict, owner of Radical Design Solutions, has gone through the trouble of redesigning Novare Group’s proposed 320-unit luxury apartment tower on West Peachtree Street.

But get this: he has no involvement with the project.

So why did Benedict do it? Because he’s disgusted with Novare’s designs. He even approached Matt Smith, senior vice president of development for Novare, with his redesign but never heard back.

So does he have a point?

Below is a side-by-side comparison of Novare’s design (SkyHouse) and Benedict’s design (Pulse). You can see the entire plans by clicking here for Benedict’s Pulse proposal and by clicking here to view Novare’s SkyHouse proposal.

Novare Group…

Below is Benedict’s version…

Novare…

Benedict…

Here are some additional renderings of Benedict’s Pulse:

Copyright 2011 — All drawings are the property of RADiCaL Design Solutions and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak (CJS) is the Founder of What Now Media Group, Inc., the publisher of What Now Atlanta, What Now Los Angeles, What Now San Diego, and What Now Las Vegas.
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Dan
9 years ago

The redesign looks much better!

Mad Russian
9 years ago

Agreed. The redesign looks much better. More modern and sleek and the parking garage blends in with the building rather than looking like the typical steel and concrete eyesore that most end of being. Look, it’s mirrored glass on yet another highrise proposal. The smoked glass gives it a mysterious feel as well as reducing the intensive glare of the sun. Way to call the designer out.

anna T
9 years ago

Hands down the redesign is outstanding ! A beautiful city like Atlanta needs a beautiful design and the colors within this structure are as exciting as the name “pulse” love it love the new designer / architect ! Many kudos to being outside the box !

SB
9 years ago

I’m sure you all understand that Novare has one basic design and it’s as absolutely cheap as possible to build and by repeating it each project they save literally millions on each deal on architects, etc. I am just pointing out the obvious. I’d love to see a water tower in midtown before another Novare-designed building…. but just saying….

Sean
9 years ago

Novare should hire Kyle Benedict.

dobiegillis
9 years ago

What’s wrong with Novarre?? Yet another clone building with a hideous concrete parking deck. Someone please take away their permits for all buildings and give them to this guy!!

KB
9 years ago

Kyle Benedict here…. I’d like to thank those that have commented so far and look forward to more. I would just like to say I completely understand design is subjective and, just as myself and many WNA readers did not like Novare’s design, I don’t expect everyone to like mine (even though they should- kidding!). I do encourage everyone to look at the PDF link though which is the actual powerpoint I gave Novare. That really explains the differences in the designs and where I think their design fails and mine creates potential. Regardless of what the building looks like… Read more »

9 years ago

Kyle, your design is leaps and bounds above the other. Novare’s design is, unfortunately, another addition to the recent collection of mirrored buildings in this city. There’s been very little imagination used in high rise architecture here in the last handful of years. I’m glad to see you don’t want to be in the norm. Your design is striking.

Chad
9 years ago

Pulse IS a much more desirable design. But aside from bruised design egos at Novare, I believe the proposal’s wording is to blame for the lack of response. Page 3 “unfortunately “Sky House” sounds like something my uncle built my 8 year old cousin in a tree in their backyard.” Page 4 “Obviously I took a more modern approach”. Page 8 “just plain looks better than a colossal parking deck- no matter how many “green walls” you put on it.” And so on… If I were to receive a proposal with that type of tone, my first thought would be… Read more »

rdh
9 years ago

Considering this development borders our office property, we have a particular interest in the design. Prefer Kyle’s design — nice evolution of the Novare designs in Midtown and Buckhead.

KB
9 years ago

Chad,
You are correct… unfortunately I don’t have a degree in PR, only architecture. I often speak in heavy tones of sarcasm with (attempted) humor and that has gotten me in trouble more than once. I’m no Larry David (social assassin for you Curb fans!) but I often don’t hold back on how I feel about things either (I am from New York after all). If I ever do this again your comment has been noted. Less tool, more professional. I appreciate it.

Suburbanist
9 years ago

I agree the Pulse design is better BUT it’s not within the same budget as Skyhouse.The glass fenestration on the parking deck is just one example of increased $$$. KB may have been more successful in getting Novare’s attention if he had presented something of similar cost to the Skyhouse design. Regardless, I applaud his efforts.

9 years ago

It would be nice to see Novare put away their “cookie cutter.”

No Var
9 years ago

It would be nice to see Novare put away their “cookie cutter.”

I bet they’ll stamp that horrendous cookie cutter all over the skyline many more times before it is retired. It all comes down to building for maximum profit and minimum cost…they don’t care if it looks like crap.

J
9 years ago

I hope Novare takes advantage of some free design work and thinks better of their original design. That said, it’s no shock that Atlanta, a cookie-cutter city, would play host to yet another cookie-cutter building.

Urbanist
9 years ago

Novare should not be given a permit to develop anything in this city after the aesthetic destruction they’ve caused (save for the Atlantic) over the past 5 years or so. Everyone of their buildings looks like it came out of a high-rise kit, and there is virtually no attention to detail in their projects.

This design is considerably better, save for one element – the parking garage. Build underground, or at a minimum build internally and hide it from the street view. Would it be too much to ask to actually get something architecturally creative in this town too?

J.R.
9 years ago

Novare needs to think out of the box. I was in the market for a condo recently, and was sorely disappointed at their inventory of lackluster, boring, cookie cutter condos. They lack creativity and soul. “Pulse” is clearly much more esthetically pleasing and considers the impact environment and aesthetics have on the residents and surrounding community. I understand that Novare has an ROI they are looking for, but I still think they can find a solution that will maintain cost while still being imaginative.

JonC
9 years ago

Wow what a breath of fresh air! My favorite part of the revision is the Spring Street facade. It’s nice that you actually took time to improve the streetscape there instead of just making it even more hellish, like Novare will do with their current design. Also, I love the graphic quality of the white band that starts on the ground, goes to the top, and then wraps around the back. A simple but powerful gesture. In some ways this reminds me of one of my favorite glass condo buildings, Midcity Lofts, which is just down Spring Street. Not that… Read more »

StevenT
9 years ago

Bravo, I applaud KB’s efforts and hope other architects out there will follow suit to get the developer’s attention. I personally don’t like those dark windows, but the overall structure is MUCH more appealing. I’d be interested to see what the interior designer would do with this building. Hopefully the developers will re-visit the original Skyhouse and at least make some adjustments. People have been saying from the beginning that an unattached parking structure was a terrible idea and they were right!

Howard Roark
9 years ago

For a man that prides himself on handicap accessible design, his roof deck design seems to proclaim that people in wheelchairs have no right to access a pool.

9 years ago

Oh, those totally look like they’ll cost the same. Novare clearly just has unimaginative designers. They should definitely do this instead. I mean, it worked for 1010…

KB
9 years ago

Howard, Not sure what you mean by your comment… the pool is actually raised off the ground which would make it easier to transfer to the pool edge from a wheelchair rather than having to go down to the ground, building a pool ramp, or having to integrate a pool lift for people with disabilities. It is definitely something that could be explored further but since this is very much a schematic rendering, it is not something I spent a great deal of time on. I was looking more at the big picture first. Of course you did fail to… Read more »

Geno C
9 years ago

I would like to know how much Novare paid their Architects who just got waxed by an intern.

BCATL
9 years ago

If Novare wants to truly make a successful urban apartment building they will have to put in money. If they go bare bones (pour sound attenuation, poor building design, poor connection to the street level) it will experience high levels of turnover resulting in lowered rents which will equal a poor clientele. If Novare has any sense at all, they will spend the few extra dollars to make a better design, and apartments that are more than the code minimum (especially in regards to sound attentuation). Benedict’s exterior design would result in very minimal increases in cost with the exception… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ KB – Understand that you were trying to clean things up a bit, without making too much of an impact. After all, Novare probably sh*t a drab boring concrete block, when they saw your rendering and had to second guess their design. Personally, I think Novare epitomizes everything that is wrong with development in this city. Their design is thoughtless, they have no concern about minimalizing their impact or fitting into their neighborhoods, much of what they build is speculative, the construction is cheap and it shows, and even after handing tons of properties back to their banks, they… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

PS – I agree with BCATL…great job on trying to challenge the status quo of this status quo loving city…

Gram
9 years ago

How is this news? You state Kyle Benedict has “no involvement” with the development or developer in any way. This is utterly irresponsible reporting. You can not compare one phantom rendering with the developer’s vetted, priced and entitled rendering. Kyle’s rendering may be more interesting but it has never been part of the process. It is not an option. Why present it as such? Why present this rendering at this late stage? Are you simply promoting Kyle? Is he related to this blogger? If Kyle wants to be taken seriously, get involved in the development process early on. No more… Read more »

JonC
9 years ago

I’m honestly a little shocked 5 Napkins was able to build back from the street. Didn’t Midtown adopt form based zoning codes that require parking in the rear/to the side? Maybe that was just a dream…

Morningsider
9 years ago

Great work: the look, human scale @ street level and rooftop pool would no doubt attract residents and possibly command a premium; I think he’s dead on in terms of what someone looking for an apartment in Midtown wants.

I don’t work in real estate, but it sounds like Novarre doesn’t understand the explosive, sustained profit power of designs that functionally & emotionally connect with the buyer target…hello, Apple?

BCATL
9 years ago

@Gram I am pretty sure what you just did is “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” Regardless it looks like someone p*ssed in your corn flakes this morning. Pricing isnt done by renderings. You wont find a contractor in this world who will legitimatley price a building based off of a rendering (and if one did, it would be a recipe for disaster). If you knew anything about the built environment/industry you would know that. Go back to your p*ss ridden corn flakes and stop acting like a hypocrit. As long as the permit hasnt been filed, and consultants havent been hired its… Read more »

KB
9 years ago

Gram, are you: a. mad at this blogger? b. mad at me- the phantom renderer? c. mad at the world? d. all of the above I am not related to this blogger. In fact I almost agree that this is not “news”… but this website isn’t the new york times either. Problem is you are completely missing the point… As for the timing… unfortunately I read the original article about skyhouse for the first time more than a month after it was initially posted (that was also my first exposure to WNA). I felt so strongly about it after seeing… Read more »

KB
9 years ago

@JonC & Urbanist, Did 5 naps tear down the old Nikimoto’s? I assumed they gutted it and used the existing building bones but just changed the exterior… then again I don’t drive past there as much as I used to so don’t really have any idea. They might have also gotten away with the setback design because isn’t the building “connected” to Zocalo? I’m sure they were able to get grandfathered in some how or some way to prevent them from having to spend more money than they wanted. Speaking of that place… anyone eaten there yet and if so,… Read more »

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

Now I am not in multifamily myself, but I have heard through the grapevine that there is a magical number at work here. I have heard that: a) About the maximum price that intown Atlanta renters can afford en masse (i.e. lots of new infill in larger developments coming on line together) is $1.70/SF per month. b) About the minimum price that makes a project like this work with financing is $1.70/SF per month. This means that Novare and other developers in the area are walking a fine line on affordability for the market and the ability to attain financing.… Read more »

Mike
9 years ago

Five Napkin simply replaced Nickiemoto’s… I doubt in this economy they were going to spend the money to tear down the old building and build a new on that fronts the street. I will say the corner does look much nicer, but I don’t blame Five Napkin for the reason why the original building doesn’t hug the street. And yes, it is good (they are from NYC) however you will notice that some of the cheap yokels that live around here will complain it is “too expensive”. Whatever, you get a huge burger and it tastes better than Flip, Grindhouse,… Read more »

BDM
9 years ago

Love the new design … much more modern and hip for Midtown. The old design looks too much like Spire, Viewpoint, and Metropolis … time for a completely different look … a nice departure from the normal architecture!

9 years ago

I’m not a fan of either. We pretty much know that the Novare design won’t look much better than their rendering, but the alluring graphic quality of KB’s design is deceptive and could use several more design iterations. One look at the featured pool deck and immediately I can tell that it won’t work. The organization was forced around the placement of the pool. The curtainwall is easily the most compelling part of the project and yet the balconies are short of being fully incorporated into it (see last rendering). Further, he goes on to talk about intimately scaling the… Read more »

Jason
9 years ago

Is it legal to build over the street as in the Pulse design? I can think of a few examples around town but it is pretty rare (except for honky tubes downtown and similar pedestrian bridges). Overall, nicely done. Seems like much of the problem with developers is that they can get their hands on OPM too easily. A few years ago a developer’s representative told me that they had just taken a trip to Chicago to understand how condos there incorporated retail. This was a developer that had already completed several residential towers and they never bothered to leave… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ JS – You bring an interesting point to the spotlight. As most here know, I’ve long argued the importance of dense rental housing in urban areas. I’ve also long argued the role the city can play in supporting that. It’s good for economic growth, environmental impact, and future development/progress of a city. This is a perfect example for the city of Atlanta to step in, and help mitigate the cost of development, to foster urban rental housing. They can issue tax exempt bonds, or issue tax credits to help fund part of the project, and require 20% of the… Read more »

KB
9 years ago

JS- great points. I think it is always hard to put exact numbers to things when there are immeasurable psychological factors that can influence those numbers… I am from the school of thought that someone who has an emotional tie to their dwelling (whether it is pride, status, location, etc.) will be willing to spend a little more on that space. So therefore, spending a little more to build a more appealing building (can’t please everyone of course) will be worth the investment. It doesn’t always work this way but would people rather say, “yeah i live in that new… Read more »

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

I forgot to mention that construction loans still have not come back. There are three reasons a large or regional bank might issue an 18-24 month construction loan on this: 1) Lender needs a good return on the total cost and will only get this return through the strength of the market (so is Atlanta, more specifically Midtown Atlanta, a strong market?) 2) Novare has to make at least a 35% equity contribution in the project, ensuring it has skin in the game. I admit I don’t know anything about Novare’s capital sources or if it’s doing this project in… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ JS – I’m a little confused by this most recent post: 1. “Lender needs a good return…and will only get this return through the strength of the market” – That’s not how credit works. Lenders earn a return on the debt they issue. That yield is appropriate based on the assessed risk – which is the only place the market is a factor. Not really sure what this means 2. Novare wouldn’t have to make a 35% contribution to the project – it and it’s equity partners would have to make a contribution, and on development it’s typically a… Read more »

JonC
9 years ago

@KB – have you ever heard of the Revision Cloud? It sounds right up your alley – http://therevisioncloud.wordpress.com/.

BCATL
9 years ago

@Felix Speaking of humility. It clearly shows that you lack any whatsoever to assume that your input is somehow higher than others. The pool would work with no problems, so as far as your critique on that you do “know” it wouldn’t work. In fact you don’t “know” if anything will or wont until you see construction documents, which are not being presented here. Its called “design development” and I would assume that someone who claims to know as much as you do would be aware of that. The so called issues you point out (penthouse abutting a blank wall)… Read more »

9 years ago

KB- Wow, personal jabs. Thanks.

By including the rendering of the closeup of the pool, you opened yourself up to criticism. The scale was begging for more detail regardless of the design stage. I simply wouldn’t have included it in the proposal. I would also consider how utterly unprofessional the proposal was.

No, I’m not a fan of what you presented, but I am a proponent of designers pushing better ideas out in the community, which I thought you were on the right track for. That said, designers could benefit from a little humility.

KB
9 years ago

JonC- Hadn’t heard of that of that site but I love it after checking it out. Thanks- Atlanta needs more of this! BCATL- Thank you, you summed up a lot of my thoughts. Felix- I am glad you are a proponent of better ideas. I have plenty of humility… my presentation probably was borderline unprofessional. But, I am one guy working out of my apartment… I don’t have a marketing and PR department. I was hoping my design would speak for itself, so I probably shouldn’t have included any text except my phone number. But, my passion is design… and… Read more »

Clicker
9 years ago

KB – I think that your preliminary design is sharp.

Having said that, it’s funny how much you all are enjoying lecturing another company about how to develop their projects and spend their money and resources. There are plenty of empty lots in Midtown (Downtown and Buckhead for that matter.) if you think you have a better mouse trap — go for it!

One other thing: isn’t this lot very close to the Marta tunnel? That might inform the underground parking situation. Not sure but just a thought.

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

@ Urbanist 1) The lender will make a return on a solid loan. A solid loan is backed by a solid market and a solid company, as well as a solid project. The market plays a huge role. A small bank putting out a huge construction loan, thereby screwing up its balance sheet on maturity and on the actual balance of assets to liabilities (deposits), is at risk moreso because of the market than anything else. The markets are what killed the small banks this past go around. They weren’t securitizing these loans and were on the hook for more… Read more »

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

Underground parking in many parts of Atlanta, the Midtown/Downtown areas not withstanding, is very tough due to the type of bedrock. Atlanta developers must combat I believe granite, which is much tougher than the bedrock in DC. DC is built on borderline swamp land, and so all of its garages are easily hidden. FL is actual swampland, so there aren’t many basements and underground structures. Atlanta is a mixture of clay and (I believe granite), so even if a site is mostly clay and a little bit granite, it is far too cost prohibitive to build underground. A simple above… Read more »

J
9 years ago

I just wish they would start building it already!

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ JS – You’re a broker right? Just trying to understand your total lack of comprehension. When you said, verbatim, “Lender needs a good return on the total cost and will only get this return through the strength of the market”, you were way off mark. Yeah, the market plays a role, but it’s by no means the most important – good operators exist in bad markets, and run phenomenal properties. Lender’s don’t earn a return through the strength of the market, they earn a return through sound investments in credit which encompass a whole host of variables, including, but… Read more »

KB
9 years ago

Clicker, Find me an investor with a few (hundred) million to throw around and I will gladly stop suggesting better looking, more thought out developments and save those ideas all for myself and that investor. As for the lecturing, isn’t the internet strictly for complaining about everything in life and showing people how to do things better based on our own two cents? I think MARTA runs far enough East of that site to not affect digging underground but don’t quote me on that. Anybody know the details about the Leows Hotel (part of 12th and Midtown) development’s underground excavation?… Read more »

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

I’m not a broker and I don’t work for a developer, please let’s not misconstrue me. I’m just comfortable using my name and opining. Urbanist, from a technical standpoint, a rental high rise IS a massive spec building as there is no guaranteed demand for or tenant before construction finishes. This is where mini-perms come in, and this is precisely why markets play a HUGE role in determining if a bank will finance the construction and lease up of a 24 floor rental building on West Peachtree in Atlanta. The maturity on these types of loans is really short, providing… Read more »

Old South
9 years ago

Looks like these buildings are already in Lenox Park. And FYI, no matter how nice you jazz up apartments, in Atlanta, they will soon become section 8. Look at Park towers, which is in a much nicer area.

Clicker
9 years ago

“Find me an investor with a few (hundred) million to throw around and I will gladly stop suggesting better looking, more thought out developments and save those ideas all for myself and that investor.”

Exactly my point — if you don’t have the money, stop preaching to others about what to do with theirs.

“As for the lecturing, isn’t the internet strictly for complaining about everything in life and showing people how to do things better based on our own two cents?”

Not strictly — but complaining does have its charms.

Urbanist
9 years ago

Classic Clicker Commentary – criticizing the guy who has an idea and wants to offer his ideas in the hopes that perhaps they’ll reach the right audience and enact some sort of change. Under your guidelines, anyone large on ideas and short on cash should be marignalized. If an entire city thought as simplistically as you did, and was as weak willed as you were, we’d have a city of bland architecture run by only a few firms…Oh, wait a minute. There’s value in ideas, and there’s value in discussing ideas, particularly if they present an option to do something… Read more »

KB
9 years ago

Clicker must be posting from North Korea

JT
9 years ago

I am overwhelmingly starting to agree with Urbanist on this matter. Look at these multifamily developers and what they build in other cities compared to ATL its night and day. AMLI is a great example they have great urban apartments in NYC but build suburban style crap complexes here, even intown. Post is another example, to a lesser extent. The land costs here are a fraction of these other cities and the developers are in the land for so little, financially they should be able to take some great risks and build some great buildings but for some reason they… Read more »

Clicker
9 years ago

Funny KB, I was thinking that all of you advocates of centrally planned economies need to move to China! If the market thinks that Atlanta demands plusher apartments, some developer will exploit that. If the market thinks that more street level retail is needed in this area (has anyone noticed the retail vacancies in this part of town or do you people drive through blind-folded?), some developer will exploit that too. Pontificate all you want about what a developer should do and shouldn’t do; that’s easy when the money is not yours. And yes Urbanist, anyone large on ideas and… Read more »

KB
9 years ago

Clicker, You speak of the “market” as if it is some sacred oracle that gives us the secret to successful real estate once we climb to the top of… stone mountain(?) I am very aware of the retail vacancies in town and it is pretty depressing. But I feel your criticism is off slightly. I am not really suggesting anything NEW to Novare… simply making their ideas look and work better. They already had street level retail, I added to it slightly to make a better design. There is an 11 story office building facing that property across Spring and… Read more »

Clicker
9 years ago

“You speak of the “market” as if it is some sacred oracle that gives us the secret to successful real estate…”

Now you’re getting it KB.

By the way, you may have missed this but I did complement your design. I hope the ‘market’ gives you more chances in the future.

KB
9 years ago

Actually, I did notice that but got caught up in this lively debate without saying thank you. I do appreciate the support.

AM
9 years ago

I also can design another project with other ideas, more sustainable, with none of these crazy too opened verandas that everybody is afraid of use, with a better swimming pool and club house area, with probably better designed kitchens with smarter backsplashes and bathrooms that at least have some drain in the floor or a thought about water behave, whit one panoramic elevator that would rock….but,but, but…nobody hired me!!! 😉

AM
9 years ago

I also can design another project with other ideas, more sustainable, whit one panoramic elevator that would rock, with none of these crazy too opened verandas that everybody is afraid of use, with a better swimming pool and club house area, with probably better designed kitchens with smarter backsplashes and bathrooms that at least have some drain in the floor or bother about water behave, ….but,but, but…nobody hired me!!! 😉

8 years ago

The redesign looks very Perkins+Will if you ask me.

KB
8 years ago

Christopher- I’ll take that as a compliment.

I wish every developer and city decision maker in Atlanta would read this article. Especially with “Skyhouse” breaking ground and that hideous hotel at 10th and Williams St. Some skyline we are creating here…

http://www.thecoolhunter.net/article/detail/2071/property-developers-and-city-councils-fail-to-build-iconic-buildings

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