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Orlando persuades tower builders to make "crowns" distinctive

For the first time since the recession, and maybe even before, three downtown Orlando tower plans are moving through approvals at the same time, and city planners want to make sure that future pedestrians and motorists can tell them apart when they look up to the sky.

"You don't want to look up and see a bunch of rectangle and square building tops indistinguishable from each other," Dean Grandin, Orlando's planning director, told GrowthSpotter.

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So, the "crowns "of proposed buildings have been consistently discussed as architectural plans for the towers move through the city's approval process. All three towers will be on the Municipal Planning Board agenda Tuesday.

Orlando Central, planned for 110 W. Jefferson St., was sent back to the drawing board to work on the look of its top.

"The intent should be to create a signature crown that makes the top of the Orlando Central tower a distinctive addition to the downtown skyline, both during the day and night," planners noted at the time.

Orlando Central's most recent submittal, which used color creatively on the exterior, was much more acceptable. "It has a distinct profile from any angle," Grandin said.

Still, planners encouraged further tweaking of the design because of its prominent location in downtown.

As examples of buildings with distinctive tops, city staff offers up the SunTrust Building, with its roof-top pyramids and the Bank of America Building with its 10 gothic spires.

Grandin said it isn't enough to have a distinctive crown; it also needs to relate to the rest of the building as well.

"We really don't want the top to look like a hat added to the top of the building with no ties to the rest of the building's architecture," Grandin said. But, rather, it should look distinctive and fit with the middle of the building as well as its general style.

City planners are also happy with the plans for City Centre, at 205 and 215 E. Central, a proposed 28-story mixed-use development planned for the shore of Lake Eola with 394 residences and 26,600 square feet of commercial.

That building has a much more traditional architecture, Beaux Arts, fittingly topped by a mansard roof style.

Modera Central, the third tower in the lineup, planned for the site of the University Club at 150 E. Central Blvd., earned plaudits from planners for a snazzy colorful lime green chapeau at its 28th story peak.

"ARB (Architectural Review Board) and City Staff is very excited about the design of the University Club/Modera project as presented in submittal package, "planning documents said. "The contemporary design and architecture of this building will have a positive impact on the downtown skyline."

tburney@growthspotter.com or 407-420 6261

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