WPCNR has learned that concerned planners, planning board members and architects quietly pressured councilpersons to demand more “extraordinary” design of the Towers of Cappelli.
One of the architects, identified by Councilperson Rita Malmud Tuesday night as having influenced her thinking in her rejection of the Tower designs, confirmed the quiet grassroots effort to WPCNR Wednesday.
William A. Rose, Jr., member of the Urban Renewal Board said he and several other community citizens have been talking by telephone and at gatherings around town (The Rotary Club) to “all of the councilpersons” expressing their concern about the Cappelli designs as first submitted.
Cappelli designs didn’t meet “criterion.”
The architect, William A. Rose, Jr. of Hillair Circle, and a member of the Urban Renewal Board told WPCNR today that “I think that you heard Mr. Cappelli correctly (last night). Several people had expressed concern to the council, and most of this came from Fred Bland’s comment on ‘the need to make sure the architecture is extraordinary.’ After the first submissions of Mr. Cappelli, it became apparent they didn’t meet this criterion.”
Rose said other persons expressed the same sentiments to all the councilpersons in telephone calls and community meetings. He said that critics of the design who spoke out to the councilpersons about “mostly the height” and inadequacy of the design included Robert Stackpole and John Garment of the White Plains Planning Board, David Volberg of the Planning Department and Robert Levine, another architect.
Planning Board members did not react negatively to designs shown them.
Mr. Stackpole and the other reported concerned Planning Department-connected citizens supported a position against the design of the buildings to councilpersons, even though Mr. Stackpole and Mr. Garment signed a letter from the Planning Board to the Common Council saying they supported the 38-story height.
Both Mr. Stackpole and Mr. Garment are reported not to have voiced any concerns about the designs of the Cappelli towers, at the time Mr. Cappelli showcased his designs to the Planning Board. WPCNR points out that Mr. Stackpole and Mr. Garment may have been saving their design concerns until it came time for the Planning Board to review the actual site design plans in the natural scheme approvals.
No comment from Mr. Levine
Mr. Levine was identified by Ms. Malmud as being one of the other architects who had spoken to her privately on the subject of the Capelli Tower designs. However, Mr. Levine declined to comment to WPCNR when asked about his feelings about the Cappelli tower designs, saying that he does not talk to the press because it does not understand and it misrepresents what he says.
Rose pleased with results of lobbying effort.
“Mr. Cappelli,” Rose said, “has done the right thing by agreeing to hire Fred Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle to assist in designing the project. A large number of people were concerned about the architecture.”
Rose said the Cappelli designs shown the Common Council August 29, were “better than anything he had previously shown. At last he’s moved ahead with his thinking. He has a ways to go yet.”
No specific suggestions.
WPCNR asked Rose what he’d like to see Bland address in his future design of the building. Rose said the buildings have to be considered “in terms of scale, quality of materials, shapes of the buildings, and what the proportions are going to be.”
He said it was difficult to say precisely what he’d like to see on the buildings, or what was wrong with the three towers presented last Wednesday, and the double glass design shown for the first time Tuesday night. He commented that the designs “because there was such a rush associated with this project, simply didn’t approach the standard that was worthy of being shown to the public. Before things got into the public domain, they should have stayed on the architect’s desk a little longer.”
Cappelli agreed Tuesday to hire Bland
He said he was primarily critical of the architect, not Cappelli Enterprises.
We asked when Rose first heard Cappelli had agreed to engage Mr. Bland. He said, “Yesterday when I learned Mr. Cappelli was going to hire Fred Bland.”
Rose concluded his comments to WPCNR, saying, “Nothing should be considered political in this. There was no collusion. No cabal, nothing to insinuate a threat to the project.”
Bland may not be able to start design until weekend.
However, Mr. Bland is not on the job yet as of Wednesday night. As of 5 PM Wednesday afternoon, WPCNR was advised by Dean Bender of Thompson & Bender, Cappelli’s spokesman, that he did not know if Mr. Cappelli had been able to reach Mr. Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle to engage his design services as of very late Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, at Beyer Blinder Belle in New York City
Mr. Bland’s office Wednesday morning advised WPCNR that Mr. Bland was engaged in an architectural jury judging Thursday and Friday and appeared not to be available. George Gretsas of the Mayor’s Office was reported trying to reach Mr. Bland throughout most of Tuesday afternoon before the Council meeting, but he could not be reached, because he was reported to be at the US Open.
WPCNR asked Mr. Rose if he felt the time between now and September 20 was enough for the Beyer, Blinder Belle to input effectively into the design tweaking. He felt that BBB had enough talented persons.
WPCNR was first tipped to this story Tuesday morning by Robert Greer, who mentioned that some architects were very much against the design, and he expected three of them to speak at the Common Council meeting. However, they did not speak.