“I don’t understand it,” says Luckenbach. “I don’t understand what drives its design. I don’t see it having a strong civic image to it.” In Beckley’s opinion, “City Hall should be an iconic building that shouldn’t blend into the landscape, and this one doesn’t. I like the design myself, though I don’t know if it will complement or be in competition with City Hall when it’s built.”
Mike Quinn’s firm designed the police-courts building. “We’ve come up with a strong, contextual design that fits the existing structure,” he says. “We’re keeping the scale at five stories to fit the urban fabric of Ann Arbor. Depending on the function, it’s got either a more open or a more private facade, and it’s got a far more welcoming entrance.”
Rueter isn’t entirely convinced: “The building needs a strong civic presence, and I’m not sure from the renderings if this design has it.” But because he believes Quinn Evans “are good architects,” he’s willing to suspend judgment until he sees the finished product.
What’s next for downtown?
Asked about the architectural future of downtown, Bob Beckley at first sounds pessimistic. “It takes a good client to make a good building,” he says, recalling Rueter’s earlier remark. “And I’d give Ann Arbor and the university a C in both those categories.