The Orlando Magic and their architects have made some revisions to the design of the new $70 million downtown practice facility but other concerns raised by staff and by the city’s Appearance Review Board likely won’t be changed.
Magic VP Robert Rayborn and architect James Braam of HOK presented the 130,000-square-foot building to the ARB for a courtesy review Thursday after having already agreed to some requests from city staff. For example, the team agreed to increase the height of the building’s first level, which is primarily the secured parking for players and team officials by 3 feet and to shift the entire footprint of the building by a few feet to the south to increase the width of the streetscape along W. Central Boulevard.
Rayborn said the team from HOK designed the building “from the inside out” to accommodate the needs of the team. Those included two indoor practice courts plus additional goals to practice shooting, lockers, expanded strength and conditioning, training and recovery facilities; an aquatic area; physical therapy areas and hydrotherapy pools; sports science and nutrition facilities; a film room; flexible hospitality areas; and work space for the team’s coaching and basketball front office staffs.
For the most part, ARB members praised the building design, calling it “timeless” and “beautiful.” But they had issues with the view of the building and its lack of transparency from the northeast corner of S. Division Avenue and W. Central Boulevard. While the top level includes a large rooftop terrace, the second level is primarily a solid masonry wall.
“I imagine myself at the street level looking at this building, it looks quite closed off,” ARB Chairman Patrick Panza said.
Vice Chair Jill Rose agreed. “It just seems like there’s a lot of wall.”
Rayborn explained that the team could not add windows to the northeast corner because that’s where the player locker room is located. They hoped to make up for the lack of transparency on the corner by building in multiple open terraces and with an outdoor lap pool along the eastern elevation.
ARB members Jeff Arms and Chad Cowart disliked the landscaping plan that called for private, fenced off courtyards along the north elevation. Braam said they were hoping to create a garden-like setting to be enjoyed by players and staff, but it still needed to be a secured area.
“I just don’t understand the garden area at all,” Arms said.
Thomas Chatmon, executive director of the city’s Downtown Development Board, told ARB members that staff had many of the same concerns but ultimately agreed that the building security had to be prioritized. That creates a bit of a fortress in the downtown where there will be little-to-no public interaction.
“It’s going to be a lovely addition to the west side,” he said. “By no means, is this an ideal use for this location, but this ship has sailed. We are happy that the Magic have doubled down on their investment in downtown. I’m asking you to just kind of swallow that pill with us.”
The city’s Municipal Planning Board is set to consider the Specific Parcel Master Plan on May 26. The Magic intend to complete the facility, which will include a 30,000-square-foot medical center operated by AdventHealth, by September 2021.