Central Bank Update

Last week I wrote about the need for aesthetic diversity in a city and gave an example of old and new architecture mixing in a Salt Lake neighborhood. One curious example of this phenomenon that’s playing out right now in Provo is the Central Bank remodel on the corner of University Ave and 100 North.

As of about a week ago, this is what it looked like:

Central Bank is renovating the facades of it's buildings in Provo.

Central Bank is renovating the facades of it’s buildings in Provo.

Eventually, this group of buildings will have a historically-influenced look.

Eventually, this group of buildings will have a historically-influenced look.

One of the most interesting things about this project is the historic brick that has been uncovered on this building.

One of the most interesting things about this project is the historic brick that has been uncovered on this building.

This post shows the project at an earlier stage, and this post includes a sketch of the final product.

The interesting thing about this project is that it’s taking a hodgepodge of older buildings and uniting them with one single facade. My impression is that reaction in the community to this project is positive, though I know a number of people who lament the fact that the modern building on the corner will become something less firmly rooted in any particular architectural style.

I’m grateful that Central Bank is investing in the community, though I also wonder at the faux-historical final product. The great thing about downtown Provo, or most genuinely interesting places, is that they’re not knockoffs or replicas of something else, historical or otherwise. That’s why downtown Provo is better than, say, “lifestyle” suburbs like Daybreak that merely imitate an organic city. It’s why visiting Paris or New Orleans is vastly more rewarding, to say the least, than going to Las Vegas or Disneyland, respectively.

All of this is to say that perhaps we should more critically consider the wisdom of mixing pseudo-historical buildings into  actually-old architecture that embodies our heritage. The Central Bank project — which is not terrible by any means and may be quite nice in the end — offers an occasion to reflect on whether or not we want our city to be a living, evolving record of each generation’s greatest works, or a generic version of the past that could have been built anywhere.

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1 Comment

Filed under building, construction, Downtown

One response to “Central Bank Update

  1. This reminds me a little bit of a house in Provo that I used to hate but now I love. On 3700 N near Will’s Pitt Stop. The very modern, boxy one that’s gray and red. When I was younger I hated that it didn’t fit into the classic or more pseudo-historical theme that many other houses in the river bottoms area have. Now I love it for the same reason I used to hate it. I’d be really sad to see it go to make room for another pseudo-historical house even if that style is very pretty.

    It’s a tough call because the Citi Bank sketch is very appealing, but on the other hand, I think you’re right that part of downtown Provo’s charm is its eclecticism. I really feel like the the city should focus on building up some of the other intersections–I won’t say instead of this one, but at least in addition to. There are a lot of sort of “dead patches” that could be enhanced to make the area more inviting and energized. This corner isn’t necessarily one of the bad ones.

    Since it’s already being changed, though, I’ll just put the hope out there that it helps to energize the area.

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