It’s A Marriott — Montclair’s “MC Hotel” Design Unveiled at Planning Board Meeting

The front of the proposed MC Hotel., at Bloomfield Avenue and Orange Road
The front of the proposed MC Hotel, at Bloomfield Avenue and Orange Road

The last time Montclair had a full-service hotel, in 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt was President, Superman debuted in the comic books, and the Henry Fonda/Bette Davis movie  Jezebel was in the theaters.  On June 9, Montclair developer Pinnacle CEO Brian Stolar, flanked by an architect, designers, and an engineer, formally filed his application before the Montclair Planning Board for a new eight-story hotel  at Bloomfield Avenue and Orange Road to complement the Valley & Bloom (formerly CentroVerde) development currently under construction.   The MC Hotel, as it is to be called, is to be one of the Marriott Corporation’s Autograph Collection Hotels, a brand of boutique hotels tailored to the uniqueness of their environs rather than based on a cookie-cutter design.  Stolar and his associates extensively went over preliminary plans for the hotel, and Board Chairman John Wynn cross-examined them with critical questions.

The MC Rooftop Bar - credit BOGZA
The MC Rooftop Bar – credit BOGZA

At the start of the meeting, Oral Muir, vice president of Global Branding at Autograph Collection Hotels, said he loved how Montclair allowed independent spirit and entrepreneurship to thrive, which he said fit Autograph Collection’s goal of working with small businesses and being part of the community.   “I really love the vibe, values and culture of Montclair,” he said, ” and the fact that this town lets people be special and follow their own path.  That’s what Autograph Collection’s all about; our motto is that we champion independence.”

[More about Autograph Collection which “consists of 57 hotels from New Mexico to Normandy, with another 20 potential partnerships pending in 2014” from Skift. Other Autograph Hotels include NYC’s Algonquin Times Square and Boscolo Palace Roma in Italy.]

Peter Levine of Dash Design, a New York interior design firm, struck a similar note in explaining how his firm planned to execute this project.  He envisioned  a design that would create “a social gathering spot where something is always happening, from the rooftop lounge with signature cocktails to local artists and design work on display.”   The result, Levine said, would be “an original, fanciful curated experience meant to stimulate and delight” with top-quality service.

The proposed MC Hotel facing Bloomfield Avenue
The proposed MC Hotel facing Bloomfield Avenue

Architect Michael Maturo of DYAMI Architecture spent the balance of the meeting explaining the design of the MC Hotel, which keeps the proposed two-story public atrium with 30-foot-high glass walls and includes a communal room for the rooftop bar.  The exterior uses a mix of stucco, a stone base, and bricks of different shades of red to break up the bulk, with terraces between the third and sixth floors along the Bloomfield Avenue facade and on the third and fourth floors along the Orange Road facade, as well as a seventh-floor setback along Bloomfield Avenue and a fifth-floor setback along Orange Road (both at five feet) to provide balconies and let in a natural flow of light.  The main entrance would be at the first floor in a porte-cochere entryway, where valets would be on duty to park cars in the Orange Road parking deck.  Michael Szura, a landscape architect for Langan International, showed how the proposed plaza at the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Orange Road would feature a planting wall separating the corner from the traffic, with ornamental pedestrian lighting along the building and a soft glow from inside the atrium to provide additional outdoor lighting.  But Szura’s most daring design element was the use of “green walls,” walls on either end of the building ornamented with plants to provide a vertical bed of greenery.

The proposed MC Hotel facing Orange Road.
The proposed MC Hotel facing Orange Road.

Wynn was pleased overall with the design but found fault with the particulars.  A mechanical room on the roof at the building’s edge,  which would face down on Ferrara’s Auto Body, along with the rooftop communal room, led Wynn to see the MC Hotel as a nine-story building rather than as an eight-story building with a rooftop bar.  Maturo said that reconfiguring the mechanical room would be difficult, with a good deal of the basement space eliminated by contaminated soil from the gasoline station that once stood on the property, and that moving it elsewhere on the roof would comprise the views.  Both Wynn and Planning Director Janice Talley asked if Maturo could find a way to reconfigure it so as not to created a de facto ninth story, and Talley noted that an ordinance requires setbacks for rooftop equipment rooms.  Maturo said it could be reconfigured.

Wynn also questioned the logic of the setbacks in Maturo’s design, asking if it was possible to redo the setbacks and sacrifice half the rooms on two separate floors facing Orange Road.  Maturo responded that it would render the design with fewer than the 148 rooms desired.  Wynn suggested having fewer rooms and making the rooms wider to accommodate larger setbacks.

“I’m getting the sense that there’s some options,” Wynn said.  “The impact upon the hotel operation and the number of rooms, I don’t know what that is.  But I don’t get the sense, really, that it’s absolute [that] you lose all these rooms.”  Wynn suggested that a redesign may only cause a loss of five to eight rooms rather than a larger number.

Stolar later said that he was certain that at least 26 rooms would be lost per the changes Wynn was suggesting, adding that Marriott had said no to anything with less than 142 rooms.  Stolar also explained that Marriott demands a design where the rooms all face the same direction, and that what Wynn was proposing would not allow such a configuration and get all the rooms required by Marriott standards.

Wynn also wondered if vegetation in the green wall could possibly be well-kept year-round, given the harsh winters New Jersey has recently experienced. Szura  said that coniferous plantings would be included to keep them fresh in winter.  Pachysandra have also been suggested.

The proposed MC Hotel as seen along Orange Road from the south. Montclair Planning Board Chairman John Wynn objected to the ninth-story configuration of the rooftop mechanical room, and board member Lanny Kurzweil suggested a mural for the blank wall hiding the porte-cochere entrance.
The proposed MC Hotel as seen along Orange Road from the south. Montclair Planning Board Chairman John Wynn objected to the ninth-story configuration of the rooftop mechanical room, and board member Lanny Kurzweil suggested a mural for the blank wall hiding the porte-cochere entrance.

Resident David Kiebler worried about the overflow of parking and the need to evacuate the hotel in the event of an emergency.  Stolar replied that Marriott has experience in preventing long car lines in the queuing area by the main door,  and that the Marriott family takes emergency preparations seriously, requiring ruthlessly efficient evacuation and fire detection systems  in their establishments.

Overall, board members were pleased with the available facilities that the hotel promises, though some, such as Lanny Kurzweil, suggested a possible mural to enliven the hotel’s blank south wall hiding the porte-cochere entrance.  Further hearings are tentatively scheduled for the $35 million project, and Stolar hopes to get it completed by early 2016.

The MC Public Plaza and Atrium by BOGZA
The MC Public Plaza and Atrium by BOGZA
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  1. If Mr. Muir thinks this design captures the essence of Montclair, I would question the planet he has been visiting. It’s imposing and ugly. Surely we can do better than that.

  2. I hear ya’ mangold. What an unsightly disaster of an eye sore. It looked and has looked so much better for the past 10 years as an abandoned parking lot and gas station. I wish we had just kept it that way. Same thing with the corner of valley and bloom. I loved the hideous strip mall architecture of a building with 1970’s lettering “Montclair” with a few crooked letters. All of this…the roof top bar with views of Manhattan (that the public can actually enjoy rather than the 20 houses “up on the hill” whose right to views everyone seems to worried about), a public atrium, a restaurant, well treated sidewalks and maintained plantings. I am sure that in 2 years when all of these things are in place we will long for a weed infested, abandoned lot filled with orange parking cones and chain linked fence we have been able to enjoy for the past 10 years. Damn you Pinnacle. Damn you to hell!

  3. Great addition to Montclair. But design can be better, looks a lot like Bloomfield Colleges new building.
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  4. That is an absolutely hideous monstrosity and I’m just amazed that it’s going up in Montclair. AS mec1972 said, it looks like all the new ugly buildings planned for here in Bloomfield. What in hell has happened to the town I once knew? So very sad. I’d take the hole in the ground over this.

  5. “The MC Hotel, as it is to be called, is to be one of the Marriott Corporation’s Autograph Collection Hotels, a brand of boutique hotels tailored to the uniqueness of their environs rather than based on a cookie-cutter design”

    Bullsh*t ! This is typical Marriott cookie-cutter crap, because that is what they do. They are in the hotel business not the “let’s make sure Montclair really gets what it needs” business. Same goes for Stolar, Muir, Levine, Matura, Szura, et al.

    “Stolar also explained that Marriott demands a design where the rooms all face the same direction.”

    That’s cookie-cutter, folks!

    It looks like the Siena on steroids. And what is that circular design element atop it posing as faux modernity? Looks like something out of a Jetson’s cartoon.

    TC and MPB being sold a bill of goods here. They must have rocks in their head to approve this thing. I’ll take an empty lot any day!

  6. I DO like the idea of a fancy-shmancy hotel in Montclair, but…who knew that the signature millennial design movement was going to be “neo-butt-ugly.” I guess that the irregular brick facades are meant to offset the sheer size of the building—but I don’t find the elevations harmonius. Take another look at the Bloomfield College building it is more attractive (

  7. I wish someone could actually define what the “essence of Montclair” is! Is ther actually an architectural type to maintain on Bloomfiled Ave in Montclair Center. When I drive down most of it..I see no consistency from one building to the next. Unlike some other downtowns in NJ like Red Bank, Princeton that actually have consistent building structures and materials types…Montclair sold it’s soul on the main drag decades ago by allowing gas stations, auto body shops, tire stores to take up residency right on the main drag. One building is a tudot style, then a classic brick store front, then some cheesy red aluminum siding, then some cedar shakes, then a one story building wedged between two 4 story buildings…if anyone thinks that bloomfield avenue is a pretty looking main street from days gone by they are sorely mistaken. Some people here seem to have a higher architectural opinion of it than they should. Let’s call it what it is. It is not a quaint two lane main street with a center strip and cars slowly cruising through town so they can look at all the pretty things. It is a four lane, wide avenue with cars that go 30 miles an hour through town and want nothing more than to go faster. Someone on the planning boards should actually define what the Montclair Center Architectural type is because to me…there is none.

  8. In the other thread I expressed the hope that with this upscale tenant, the developer would have to upgrade the exterior design. Having seen these renderings, my optimism has dissipated. It is most unfortunate.

    I suggest a letter-writing campaign to Marriott. Amalda Altree seems to be the point person based on an internet search. EMAIL: with cc to (their PR person). Arne M. Sorenson is the CEO so I would guess his email to be either or

    Dear Ms Altree/Mr Sorenson, etc:

    I am writing about Marriott’s plans for a hotel in our town, Montclair, NJ. Announced yesterday, your hotel will be in a new, yet-to-be-constructed building, the design of which many of us in the community find falls flat.

    Your website describes The Autograph Collection as “an evolving ensemble of strikingly independent luxury hotels. Each destination has been selected for its bold originality, rich character and uncommon details. From near to far, iconic to historic, the result is an array of properties that is nothing less than completely unique, nothing short of collectively exceptional.”

    The bland structure with fake tower shown in the renderings is a major disappointment and looks like a cookie cutter project, seen everywhere. An example, with a nearly identical fake tower, is only 2.1 miles away, at Bloomfield College: While we don’t doubt your ability to execute an interior that meets The Autograph Collection’s brand requirements, the exterior is so common as to suggest a Fairfield Inn. We encourage Marriott to work with the developer to upgrade the exterior to match the aspirations of your brand.

    Thank you,

  9. willjames – Your attempt at sarcasm fails terribly. Gas stations everywhere, by definition, are horrible looking creatures. They are a ubiquitous necessary evil.

    Are you saying that this proposed hotel design is not a “hideous monstrosity”?

  10. It could be worse but it does remind me of a circa 1960’s hospital. “Roof top bar with views of Manhattan that the public can enjoy” What public? Are they serving 4 dollar Buds and Tierney burgers? Doubt it…any word on how many new fireman will need to be hired and what new equipment will need to be purchased to support all the new proposed high rise development?

  11. 1. Hideous monstrosity is kind of redundant.
    2. Even if your opinion is that it is hideous, most of Bloomfield Ave is hideous so it fits right in.
    3. The vacant lot looks like something in illtown, sorry the new building is not nearly as hideous as the vacant lot.

  12. It could have been far worse had the architect lapsed into the neo-wedding hall foam cornice and columns pastiche. Let’s hope they avoid the coach lamps, too.

  13. This unacceptable project is worse for Montclair than Christopher Court, the Siena and South Park Street combined. Whoever is involved in this building going up is a reckless amature.

  14. I don’t think it looks that bad, actually. Regarding the mechanical room, couldn’t they (and shouldn’t they?) remove the contaminated soil as part of the project?

  15. Yes, stayhyphy, I am sorry to day that most of Bloomfield Ave is hideous, uut it does not currently consist of badly designed, ill conceived nine story megaliths. Why make it worse and add to the problem?

    And yes, a vacant lot is better than this proposal. At least a vacant lot holds a promise for the future. Something better than this, which we will have to live with for decades, if not longer.

  16. The proliferation of mall shopping and subsequent abandonment of many Main Streets left them dilapidated and completely desolate entering the new millennium. Bloomfield Ave. is a perfect example of this today. No civic order to the arrangements of storefronts and tenants. Literally every project that has transpired in Montclair Center has been an improvement over what was there prior. Every one. Between the Sienna, Valley and Bloom and this hotel you have added potentially THOUSANDS of people living, shopping, eating and drinking and socializing in a place where before there was little to no foot traffic. Take a picture of Church St on a Saturday night right now and compare it to ten years ago at the same time of day. Ghost town back then. After seven o clock you would see many more vacant store fronts and a dry cleaners that closed at 5 and everyone speeding their way OUT of town to go eat at the Olive Garden in Livingston! Worry less about the brick color and more about the number of people and their spending dollars these projects have and will bring to our town. Would I like a building that has more classic character? Of Course! but show me a project that has gone up in the last 15 years that is built like that. Developers are no longer using red brick and expensive stone anywhere. Those days are gone. I will take these density increasing projects over plowing into the woods to create another godforsaken cul-de-sac any day.

  17. A part of me was hoping the design would complement 57 Union Street. That was wishful thinking. This is just ugly. Like low-end Bayonne ugly.

  18. “1. Hideous monstrosity is kind of redundant.”

    —-excellent point, but let’s not let that stop the Under The Domers from having another in a series of intellectually convincing temper tantrums. hey, now that they have a form complaint letter to send to Marriott, everything will change!

  19. parkour – Who’s talking about plowing into the woods”? This project is on a vacant lot the corner of Bloomfield Ave and Orange Rd. No woods there that I know of.

    Disagree about the Siena adding to foot traffic and socialization. Valley and Bloom even not built yet; neither is this thing. What are you talking about? The single biggest contributing factor to resurgence of Church Street and environs has been the development of the small privately owned restaurant biz.

  20. There are two burning questions that I am sure are on the minds of all in Baristaville. 1) What is the carbon foot print of this monster and do I have to buy a Leaf to offset it? 2) Will they be offering a short stay rate?

  21. The Sienna should have been a lesson learned. Cheap, ugly, poor construction. This looks a lot like the Sienna. I wish we could have attracted a better hotel chain or an actual boutique hotel. The Marriot is very disappointing. The styles of buildings on Church Street are nice- perhaps we could carry that flavor thoughout Montclair, instead of this cheap looking design and construction?

  22. Thank you Townie…I’m with you and intend to write. Hope that others will too. The proposal is insulting.

  23. No parkour, it isn’t “it is what is it.” To a Montclair transplant like you it may be. To those of us with a love for and deep roots here, we are interested in both preservation and protection while at the same time responsible and sensible design and development. This project I’m afraid, is an example of neither of those things.

  24. The use and mass was approved a long time ago and with ample opportunity for pushback. The water, sewage, parking and traffic impact, too.

    At this stage, it really is just about tweaking the design because the color, materials and dimensional tricks are very similar and relate well to Valley & Bloom.

    Marriott Corp is a good company in many ways and probably the best Pinnacle could get for this site. But, they are not a notable company for their architecture. They build highly efficient, safe, full-service boxes using proven design standards to circulate the maximum number of people through them. And after all, that was the holy grail Montclair sought.

    I was wrong to think a hotel was not going to happen – especially a full-service hotel. My sense of the process was that concessions were made to attract such a full-service hotel.

    So, what is proposed is pretty well aligned to the talk. Actually, if the developers lose the “halo” design element on the top, it falls well within my expectations based on the previously approved use & mass. It will be interesting to see how the Historic Preservation Commission views this design.

  25. I hope this conversation keeps going and that people communicate both positive and negative perspectives to the Planning Board (and not just on these pages.) I just want to say that the tumblr link included above by williamjames may be the best illustration on putting all things “development” things into perspective.

    I love our town, and I don’t expect every corner to be “story book” beautiful. I appreciate that we have the gorgeous gardens of the Van Vleck House, but then I am thankful that when my car is on the fritz, I can drop it to a mechanic near the train station. Is the mechanics’ property particularly pretty — no. And it doesn’t need to be. There are many NJ towns with property mixes like this. We need many types of businesses and I admire the mechanics, gas station owners, plumbers and landscapers who run their businesses here — many of them for multiple generations. We should always work to get the best outcome for Montclair and its residents from developers, but taking a minute to really look around is a valuable reality check as we give feedback to our representatives on the Planning Board. Hopefully, it gives momentum to a larger and broader discussion. Thanks “gloryof…”

  26. Point of clarification: the idiomatic term, “cookie-cutter,” describes, almost by definition, something that is designed to offend the fewest possible people. The term doesn’t really work as a qualification added to “hideous” or “monstrosity.”

    When the house-plan books were all the rage in the 1920s, the point was to insure that vast quantities of suburban housing could be built in a short period of time with minimal objection from town elders. Development during that era was all about standardized designs and construction methods with a pastiche of architectural filigrees to make middle-class homebuyers feel slightly (though not radically) distinct from their neighbors. If you live in a 1920s “center-hall colonial” (or a “side-hall colonial” or a “tudor style” home) as I do, then congratulations!—you live in a “cookie-cutter” structure.

    The fact is, we here in Montclair *LOVE* cookie-cutter architecture. We just don’t know that we do, because the cookie-cutter in question is of 1900-to-1930 vintage.

    Here are three buildings designed by someone whose work is the opposite of “cookie-cutter”:

    Building 1
    Building 2
    Building 3

    I actually like this level of creativity and daring. But there’s NO WAY that the good people of Montclair would be okay with any design that would spring out of a head as talented as this man’s. They’d eat him for lunch, destroying the design by a thousand little nips, tucks, and ‘suggestions’. Don’t even try to deny it.

  27. willjames, those buildings are lousy. If you want to prove non-cookie cutter is great, and since we’re discussing hotels here, why not Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel? Fantastic to look at, and it survived the earthquake when all else crumbled and caught fire, only to be torn down by developers decades later to build a boxy cash cow. They did save a piece of it though:,_Tokyo#mediaviewer/File:ImperialHotelFacade.jpg

  28. Has anyone seen the Signature Marriott in Ashville, NC? It’s new construction built in the Tudor style, that they say is built to fit in with its historic surroundings. Tell me how great this would look and fit in Montclair:

    If Mariott were building that here, all of us would be rejoicing. Instead they’re building ours to apparently fit in with the Siena. My guess is because Ashville said to them, if you want to build a hotel here, make it work within our town.

    Our town, however… Well, what’s the point of historically designating the downtown, if you get to build this?

  29. Silverleaf, please. You’re getting in my face a little too aggressively and not thinking things through. Levittown is 1940s-1950s cookie cutter. And sure, it is more *consistently* so than Montclair’s 1920s streets. That’s at least partly because of the developers’ assumptions about the demographic profile of their prospective buyers in each case.

    Montclair has always banked on a more upscale clientele, and thus the amount of variation presented in its housing developments during its period of greatest growth is, naturally enough, higher than in the “sprawl” suburbs that would follow a few decades later. But vast swaths of the Montclair we both love–the 1920s part especially–were built quickly, and from plan-books that provided a menu of standardized house plans. Sure, there was some variety, but cmon!—ask anyone who knows design or who walks prospective homebuyers around town, and they’ll tell you that after awhile, all the 1920s-era “CHCs” blend into each other after awhile. If you’ve seen half a dozen Montclair CHCs, you’ve pretty much seen ’em all.

  30. Spiro:

    Not that I was setting a trap, but anyway… Ask frankgg who designed those “lousy” buildings…

  31. “Maturo said that reconfiguring the mechanical room would be difficult, with a good deal of the basement space eliminated by contaminated soil from the gasoline station that once stood on the property, and that moving it elsewhere on the roof would comprise the views.”
    POSTED BY LiFer | JUNE 10, 2014 @ 9:08 AM
    I don’t think it looks that bad, actually. Regarding the mechanical room, couldn’t they (and shouldn’t they?) remove the contaminated soil as part of the project?

    Because it is much more expensive to remediate this way and ExxonMobil would likely contest it. Considering the NJ DEP, ExxonMobil would probably be successful in delaying it indefinitely.

    I believe remediation issues are one of the reasons for the Master Plan introducing C3 zoning & Density Bonuses. It’s far more economical to build up than excavate.

  32. Thank you zidarich; an example of design that fits the surrounding areas. Not like some out of place faux Sienese structure. Would certainly compliment Montclair’s tudor-style homes, Watchung Plaza, and storefronts on Vally between Bellevue qnd Lorraine. Responsible design!

    STQ – FLW’s Imperial Hotel a real beauty and an example of out-of-the box thinking with it cantilevered design, but probably a little too much ham for the egg on Bloomfield Ave.

  33. Those Aldo Rossi buildings are appropriate for the city context that they are in. Montclair is not a city, instead it is a vintage residential suburb.

  34. Has anyone seen the Signature Marriott in Ashville, NC? It’s new construction built in the Tudor style, that they say is built to fit in with its historic surroundings. Tell me how great this would look and fit in Montclair:

    I agree that this is a nice looking structure but not on this corner. This would look great in Upper Montclair…perfect…where there actually is a consistent building type arrangement of multiple Tudor style structure. I really keep coming back to the idea that the problem lies in the fact that Montclair Center has no “fit” because there is no consistent type to fit into. This hotel does at least match the Valley and Bloom project built by the same developer. Maybe, someone is actually trying to provide some consistency here. A Tudor style hotel would look awful across the street from what Valley and Bloom is going to put up.

  35. willjames – Victorian, center hall colonial, tudor, craftsman, Cape Cod, bugalow, neo-classical, Quen Anne, saltbox, Georgian, Dutch Colonial . . . all cookie-cutter. Your pooint is lost on me.

  36. Will, I do also! Almost 100 years later, cookie cutter or not, circa 1920’s colonial revivals are still in style and sought after by homeowners. They’re timeless, classic American homes that won’t ever appear dated and out of place.

    Can we say the same thing about the Bell-Air house? The Siena looks dated already how many years after its construction.

    Do you really think the above design is timeless, and will be enjoyed and admired by guests 100 years from now?

    Without getting too sidetracked, the point I really wanted to make was the link to the Marriott Autograph hotel above . If they can build them to fit into the fabric of other towns, why can’t they build it to fit into ours?

  37. If the shoe fits. That’s not my concept or definition of “cookie-cutter”, nor in the standard use of the term, is it used in that sense by most poeple.

  38. Yea. This is terrible. I’d rather we keep our aesthetic and leave the vacant lot the way it is!

    Some of you have the same knee-jerk response to anything “new” that I bet you’d prefer Montclair kept the wonderfully beautiful and iconic “design” of the Hahne’s building.

    Sienna or Hahne’s?

    I’ll keep Sienna.

    parkour speaks the truth!!

  39. I vote for Frank R’s design…. its too tall but the style is appropriate…. it would compliment the police building across the street.

  40. If you won’t grant “cookie cutter” in the case of plan-book architecture, and instead hold up absolute conformity, a la Levittown, as the definition of “cookie-cutter” as it is used by “most people,” then you’re being completely self-contradictory when you use that term to describe this hotel design.

    If anything, this design is “pastiche.” But again, that’s another one of Montclair’s longstanding modus operandi. Faux-tudor facades next to buildings with pasted-on classical detailing, for example, are a form of pastiche.

    “The rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass…”

  41. If anyone think that anything we build anymore is going to be around in a century from now…or more….they are so sorely mistaken. We stopped trying to build permanent things after WWII in this country, particularly in our suburbs. That is why every aluminum clad house and shoddily built strip mall built in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s looks the way it does now. and it forms a desolate and depressing landscape to say the least. We made far too many architectural and planning mistakes for 50 years to try and fix it all at once. We (and by we I mean our eyes and spirits)are going to be paying for the way we have chosen to inhabit the landscape since WWII for many decades to come. Faded aluminum siding that is peeling back and falling off. Cracked fluorescent lighting signs with chipped paint. Enormous parking plazas and millions of square acres covered in asphalt. Go on google earth and Take a look at the shear amount of parking spaces that can be found embedded into the urban fabric of Montclair Center. It is mind boggling that given all of those spaces we are begging for more. Rule number one of urban planning…enhance the streetscape, Create welcoming interface between the buildins and the sidewalk and the road. The least inspiring thing a human can have to walk past are car dealerships and parking lots…which apparently, according to many on Baristanet is worse than. In my opinion, everything has has to do with the car should be placed out in the places far from the downtown, where cars can actually get to really well. Not in the walking-pedestrian shed. There are over 20 features on Bloomfield Avenue that pertain the driving, parking and maintenance of our cars. Inspiring downtowns do not have these features. They don’t allow it. The muffler shops, the pep boys, parking lots, parking signs, meters, traffic lights, auto body shops, gas stations every quarter mile, tire changing shops, car dealerships with hundreds of car permanently parked. They all need to go…replace them all with buildings that look like this and I will be happy…and the streetscape will be improved.

  42. Prof, are those our only two choices? It was either Hanes or the Siena? Abandoned or this?

    Take a look at the other Marriott Autograph hotels. Take a look at new construction in town by people like Oasis Architecture.

    Our choices don’t have to be either nothing or cheap and ugly. We can build things that work within the fabric and character of our town.

  43. If this is a case of “The rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass”, then a poorly designed hotel and its developers is Sycorax.

  44. @zidarich, yes.

    Folks “dreamed” of their “ideal” design that captured the “essence of Montclair,” and nothing was done. For years.

    So it appears, like here, the choice is nothing or this (unless you want to offer up some CASH- and not some dream on an anonymous hyper-local blog).

    This design looks great to me– so long as the overpriced gas station remains!

    A hotel in Montclair? I’ll take it!

    — I KNOW: You’d rather stay at the The Georgian Inn—-

  45. Yes, that is correct. But unlike you, Prospero renounces magic. You and others here will stay beholden to and under the spell of bad design and ill-conceived development.

  46. @parkour – I agree with a couple of points you made, but I don’t share your fervent enthusiasm for urbanization and the attraction of thousands of people into town. When you say, “…their way OUT of town to go eat at the Olive Garden in Livingston” – I have to wonder who in Montclair would consider dining in an Olive Garden.

    Hyperbole aside, there are more than “20 homes up on the hill”, and the views from places like Lloyd Rd and Undercliff Rd are the kind of thing most people only behold in the movies. I doubt that the majority of residents of Montclair would want to see them obstructed unless their resentment of the owners/residents overrides their common sense. Of course, plenty of people who live in Upper Montclair are entirely ignorant of their existence.

    All that being said, I do share your admiration of the uniformity of style found uptown on Valley Rd & Bellevue Ave with the Tudor motif. We could use more of that. The tudor style motif would be something to consider for use in making over the Southend business district as well as establishing some esthetically pleasing consistency along the eastern stretch of Bloomfield ave from the TDBank to the Firehouse. I also appreciate the Greek Revivial, Federal and Georgian style of many of the older buildings around town. It’s a shame we couldn’t return to such classic masonry in our modern architecture.

  47. Man o’man everyone’s actin like its a finished product. I’m sure the developers are re-designing the turret as we read this. In any case rooftop bar people, ROOFTOP WITH A VIEW BAR,

  48. Oh good, if they fix the turret it will look so much better, not at all like a hideous monstosity.

  49. Oh my goodness that is one hideous monstrosity. When the town “Montclair” is mentioned, some images that come to mind are gorgeous mansions, beautiful architecture and cute boutiques. This is FAR from what I picture Montclair to look like. This is another eyesore like the Sienna building and can’t decide which one is uglier. I am just thankful that I recently moved to Essex Fells (after living in Montclair for 23 yrs) where the residents still have a sense of history and aesthetics. Montclair is going down the toilet and Montclair residents, you are getting screwed big time!

  50. gooseberry,

    I agree with you that when one thinks “Montclair,” the stuff that you mentioned comes to mind (among many other things).

    But when you really *look* at the actual place where the hotel is proposed to be built, I mean look at it as it currently exists, you see this, and if you look around, say across the street and right next to the proposed location, you see this.

    Those things have been the status quo for a long time. If they don’t mar your image of Montclair, it’s probably just because they’re familiar to you. To an objective eye, I’m sure of it, the existing area is at best a hodgepodge and at worst an eyesore.

  51. I agree with Frank Rubacky. A simple, elegant box would be better. All the money thrown at building those structural, waterproofed setbacks with polyglot siding types could better be allocated to other things. Here’s a building we all know, sited on a similar, sharp-angled corner – and it didn’t need all those zigzags and grab-bag of materials to get our attention. It’s clad with basically one single carefully detailed material all the way up ( and it still looks good 111 years later)

  52. I didn’t have high expectations this new construction would meet the 40 point LEEDS certification requirement. When the Chair extended the invitation to put meeting this requirement up for reevaluation, I just sighed.

    I like bars as much as the next person, but to make it the Western Gateway featured element is not setting the bar high enough – even at 100ft up – for what Montclair is about.

  53. I’m certain I missed it, but could the developer give the actual total height of the structure this time?

  54. Disappointment in the design aside, if that ring was the 4th story rather than the 9th story, there’d be fewer complaints.

  55. will, I can tell you from our experience in Bloomfield, the whole idea that “anything is better than what was there” fades fast once something is there that sucks.

  56. In response to parkour’s comment about Church Street being a ghost town ten years ago. I disagree. I was living here and remember a different Montclair. A Montclair that was less shiny yet more comfortable. I recall a nice Malaysian restaurant on Church back then that was usually crowded “enough.” And there was foot traffic, it just wore less expensive clothing and favored the simple yet different. When “Over the Rainbow” closed its doors, the train had left the station with the last of the middle class aboard. I’m surprised “Cafe Eclectic” lasted so long. Change is the one thing we can count on. As far as the Sienna and Christopher Court comments, oh, well. The hotel will be well received no matter what it looks like. With regards to the comments on Bloomfield Avenue’s unattractive facade. Yes, not pretty but no worse or better than some of the gentrified areas of Brooklyn and Queens. Montclair’s bigger issue is it’s failure to install many necessary traffic lights in response to busier roads. Last and least, “Olive Garden” in Livingston? Really?

  57. Easy peasy, STQ. Straightforward yet elegant, designed in good taste, comprised of three simple elements . . . sandstone, brick, and terra cotta.

    And certainly not cookie-cutter.

  58. Too bad about Sullivan, silverleaf. Brilliant, inspiring, well-detailed architecture that knew how to soar while still accommodating human scale and activity, yet it fell out of favor when the public’s taste for classical revival styles kicked in again.

  59. Yes, STQ. Weimar Germany’s Bauhaus School . . . Corbusier, Gropius, van der Rohn, with it’s strict adherence to function and utility, rang the death knell for Sullivan. Here in the U.S. it was acolyte Philip Johnson who got the assist.

    The Guaranty Building in Buffalo another is another great example of Louis Sullivan’s wonderful design.

  60. Enter into evidence: Over at Montclair Patch, there are additional renderings. The open area of the vaunted rooftop bar is at the narrow corner, facing west. It will be a fine perch from which to toast those gracious residences on First Mountain. In this way, the hotel preserves for its First Mountainites the unique opportunity to salute the city while also standing outside, on an authentic, old-timey single-family balcony.

  61. I think the hotel will be a great thing for Montclair – it’ll be the rug that ties the room together on the western side of downtown.

    But I’m concerned about the architectural style they’re going for. What exactly is it? Buildings that look like that have a poor track record for looking anywhere decent. This building in LA looks remarkably similar and I’m afraid something like it will turn up in Montclair

    Also, see how the walls on the upper stories are white? They might just be plain stucco, like the rear and side walls of the Siena building (which was still a great thing for Montclair may I add!) that archtects euphemistically describe as “unarticulated”

  62. Just for the record, it is no longer appropriate to call Montclair Center “downtown”. Please refrain from using this term. Our nomenclature also precludes calling the Upper Montclair business district “Uptown”. Sorry for the confusion with the banner signs. If you have lived here for a long time and are really old, then I think you can get a waiver.

  63. What is that UGLY, UGLY halo thing on the roof? Could it be a new Seaside Heights type circular “Jet Star” bumper car racetrack?
    How about some blinking neon lights for nighttime racing.
    Way to go Montclair planning board.
    Please, just eliminate it. It’s extremely tacky.

  64. Take the halo away and the building actually becomes more non-descript. Turn the halo into an overhead trellis ringed with flowering vines and now we’ve got a building with a more sensible and appealing crown.

    Now, what can be done with the in-our-face gray panels covering the corner cylinder? Either go with well-detailed brick (aiming for a cohesive whole, in the spirit of Louis Sullivan as discussed and shown above) or introduce a special material that also happens to be contextual to Montclair Center: glazed terra cotta. It would catch the setting sun just so. I can dream, can’t I?

  65. By the way, Silverleaf, you have read too much Tom Wolfe and not enough William Jordy.

    What DID happen to all those fine building and detailing strategies Sullivan developed? The story of Sullivan’s legacy is more complex and interesting than suggested above. It was a good old Classical Revival (usually called Beaux Arts), not European Modernism, that overtook the United States and buried Sullivan’s modern innovations along the way. From the early 1890s through the early 1930s, the aesthetics of ancient Greece and Rome ruled the land.

    In the 1920’s, the Bauhaus crowd revived and championed Sullivan’s edict, “Form Follows Function,” and embraced Sullivan’s protégé, Frank Lloyd Wright, in a way the US design culture never has. Almost 100 years later, the US public is still confused about what good design is, whether classical or modern. Meanwhile, Europe comfortably wears a variety of architectural styles, almost always planned and detailed in ways that are superior to what we settle for here.

    Mies, Gropius and Le Corbusier didn’t wreck anything. They enlightened a continent and made important contributions to a legacy of great European design. Here, in Brand USA, we are so busy planning for tomorrow, we can’t remember there was even a yesterday. Lessons from Sullivan don’t carry over. Cultural amnesia dooms us to mediocre design.

  66. Get a grip everyone…Montclair is not NY, Paris, London, or even Cleveland (they have a Ritz). The hotel market has spoken. Montclair rates a nine story Motel 6 with a cherry on top. Now visitors have a place to stay while they tour Montclair’s yoga studios, nail salons, and yogurt shops.

  67. Of course it’s nine floors. How is the bar and flying saucer charging station not a ninth floor?

    And this is being built on soil contaminated by the gas station that used to be there? Isn’t that just asking for trouble, like building on top of an Indian burial ground? Will the eventual mold in rooms be flammable?

    It would look nicer in one color, without the red Lego bricks, and with four or five fewer floors.

  68. The ugliest issue regarding this building is no fault of the developer or architect, it is its height and monolithic building mass that was allowed by the township. Its up to them to correct this building issue that obviously no body wants, now that the community realizes that this huge building mass is out of place.

  69. You’re all living in a dream world if you think Montclair can do better than this. The era of Gilded Age mansions, leaded glass and fine masonry work is behind us. You can get into a pissing match over who knows more about Louis Sullivan, but he and the socioeconomic world he designed in, is long dead. Montclair is not Central Park West (despite what recent blogs might claim) and no hotel chain in their right mind would ever dump 100+ million into a structure that is being built on speculation with no local demand. If a Froyo shop can’t last 3 months, how is a boutique hotel going to last? There is simply not enough business in Montclair, or anywhere in NJ, to command such an eloquent structure. This is the unfortunate reality that we live in.

    It is short sighted of the council and planning board to have not established an Architectural Review Board to jurisdict over new development and renovations, that is part of the permitting process. Like it or not, development is progress and it will happen one way or another. It is more a matter of having 9 stories of foam trash or 9 stories of brick that sort of blends in and is less shockingly hideous. Cheap plate glass windows versus double hung windows. The powers that be are so desperate for bottom feeder developers to sink money into our downtown that they are losing sight of what is important. New, modern and large buildings can still be aesthetically pleasing, and don’t necessarily need to look like they are 150 years old to add to the character of downtown. Unfortunately, this hotel proposal falls short on all 9 levels.

  70. “obviously no body wants”

    —what an incredible myope. “my opinion is shared by everyone” is not only lazy, it’s dangerous. it’s the sign of a closed mind.

  71. The closest that we have to Sullivan is the Gates Mansion on S Mountain by Maher, from Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio, the Carnagie Library by Van Vleck (now the Unitarian Church) and the Bellevue Avenue Library, another Carnagie Library by Nelson.
    The closest we are to Mies van der Rohe are the gorgeous Colonade Apartments built 1960 in Newark.

  72. Is everyone on Baristanet having a bad day? I haven’t seen so much whining in Montclair since Al Gore lost the recount. Criminy folks! It’s a hotel, not a national monument design competition.

  73. According to today’s Star-Ledger, this is a done deal. Is this true? Richard Khavkine writes in the Ledger as if it’s definitely going to be built: “The MC hotel . . . will be the newest iteration of the Marriott family’s Autograph Collection, the hotel chain’s uber-luxury brand, when it opens in early 2016.” What’s going on?

  74. “flying saucer charging station” – unmitigated, that was funny. Glad I’d finished my coffee.

  75. “It’s a hotel, not a national monument design competition.” – true yes, but we can do better than this.

    “New, modern and large buildings can still be aesthetically pleasing, and don’t necessarily need to look like they are 150 years old to add to the character of downtown.” – Great, can we get one of those then?

  76. @brigattista, people demanding quality construction in their town is not my idea of Baristanet having a “bad day”. To the contrary, I think it’s an excellent day. If Montclairians want to drive by shoddy, ugly construction, they can always drive up and down Route 46 or through Livingston, and get their fill. We should expect higher standards in our downtown, and especially at high visibility intersections such as this one.

  77. POSTED BY brigattista

    Is everyone on Baristanet having a bad day?

    Ha! Nice one birgattista. Unfortunately, this the expectation in this town now. Complain. Complain. Show arrogance and complain. Try to sound smarter than everyone else in the way you complain by citing “respected” architects, authors and planners. The thing you have to remember is that the people making the most negative noise in this town really represent a VERY small percentage of the population. The blogs and town meetings are their main territory to spew their venom and so it appears as if there is a groundswell movement against a lot of things that in REALITY have a lot of support in Montclair as a whole. There are maybe 20-30 on this blog over and over. Also, before you belive that “all of Montclair is in an uproar over the master plan” take a close look in the background of the “huge turnouts of those who do not support the master plan” take a real close look at the “rallies” and “upswelling” they speak of. The majority of these “rallies” are really a half filled room of 12-15 people holding paper signs that reveal how they feel about the master plan. A lot of empty folding chairs, a guy half asleep in the corner, someone checking their IPOD. All of these NEW things are happening in THEIR town and they cannot handle that something that they do not want, by “transplants” could happen in THEIR town. But in reality their time has come and gone and the evidence of the real groundswell and momentum building movement is in what is actually happening. Much more, new development, around transportation, in a non single-family home style. It’s not going to stop. In Montclair or otherwise.

  78. —what an incredible myope. “my opinion is shared by everyone” is not only lazy, it’s dangerous. it’s the sign of a closed mind.

    Irony alert!

  79. The reality is that Montclair has $5-6 billion dollars of real estate value that property owners are paying high taxes on and bad development, planning mistakes and omissions are slighting these taxpayers.

  80. Is everyone on Baristanet having a bad day?

    This doesn’t deserve even a “dardunno.”

    I haven’t seen so much whining in Montclair since Al Gore lost the recount.

    Oh, such were the joys!

    Criminy folks!

    Criminy? CRIMINY?!

    Brigattista, I think I love you.

  81. One of the obsessions of our planning board and our more vocal citizens is “mass,” “bulk,” and height. If you listen to these application meetings carefully, you’ll discover that one of the most consistent comments is that buildings over a certain height need to be designed so that the “bulk and mass are broken up.”

    The result of our obsession with height and bulk and mass is right here before you. One of the key reasons that we keep seeing these designs with different finishes (brick, stucco, steel, glass) in variegated patterns and with multi-level setbacks is because just about the loudest and really the only consistent message that seems to come through in public comment and Planning Board meetings is that the “mass” and “bulk” of taller buildings must be “broken up.”

    And then, in comment threads like this one, what do people (including me) point to as “beautiful” and “gorgeous” alternatives? Buildings that emphatically do NOT ‘break up’ their mass or bulk via setbacks and variegated materials, but instead maintain a consistent building-line up the full run of their floors!

    You know in your hearts, those of you that admire (as I do) all those other examples by prominent architects, that a consistent building-line isn’t *by definition* a bad design principle, and that such buildings, when designed well, don’t make people at street-level feel overwhelmed by their “mass” or “bulk”. You all have linked to great examples of buildings that are monolithic in a sense but are absolutely beautiful works of public art that are a pleasure to walk around and look at.

    But because as a community we seem to lack an adequate design-vocabulary, and because a small group of particularly vocal people keep harping on height and bulk, the developers who present new proposals to the township naturally enough produce designs like the one you see here. That is, they’re *listening* and *responding* in a rational way to what they’re hearing and reading in public comments. Basically: we’re getting what we (collectively) ask for.

  82. parkour, you seem less than pleased that people here cite key examples from architectural history that we all can treasure, learn from, and apply to current design challenges. Since when is knowledge of the history of art and architecture, city planning and land use worth deriding? What would you propose instead? No, seriously.

  83. Hey Spiro T – Thanks for the question.

    First, I think that Will makes a really valid point that maybe some of the aspects of the hotel that everyone is complaining about are the things that we asked for in town meetings. These components, as much as we hate them, are how architects “reduce mass” and “break up bulk” which are the key phrases that came out of every public hearing…and so they did.

    Second, Yesterday people were posting links and wondering why they were not an option for this site when all of them, “The Good Looking Box” and the Tudor from NC would have looked worse than this. This is a triangular block that the architects, in my opinion have really capitalized on nicely and will present nicely to the streetscape from any corner of the intersection. A square box is the wrong call here. As is any type of Tudor in Montclair Center. A tudor style hotel would be PERFECT in upper Montclair where a distinct architectural patterns and style has been cherished and maintained. There is no such pattern in Montclair Center…none at all. If anything. The fact that this building will compliment the Valley and Bloom and Sienna is a way of having a downtown with any pattern or consistency at all.

    3. I do not share the history of Montclair that others do, but I would love to know what was allowed to happen to Montclair Center architecturally in the first place. Everyone talks about it as this “village in the country” and “classic railroad town” but what the heck happened to Bloomfield Avenue. There are downtowns all over NJ that went through way worse down times then Montclair and yet kept their architectural type consistent and present class uniform streetscapes now. Countless downtowns have the wonderful 2-3 story re brick mixed use buildings that are all the same height and create a consistent corridor. Why does Montclair have a street that looks more like Flatbush Avenue in BK, than a railroad suburb main street?

    I wish we could all get on the same page with what we want moving forward, and shared the technical vocabulary to do so. But in the end we all have different likes and dislikes. I am much less concerned about the brick color choice of a new hotel (that is replacing a vacant lot with a 10 year history) than I am about the rest of that area. I would love it we focused on the aesthetic appeal of the street as a whole, and sought to slow cars down rather than find way to speed them up. I am much more picky about what ramshackle awnings, empty storefronts, vacant parking lots, car part stores, gratuitous car-related signage and signals, crappy looking bus stops, four lanes of traffic, and lack of any public sitting space do to the aesthetic appeal and overall experience of walking down Bloomfield Avenue than I am about this. I will say it again, and I genuinely mean this. The Sienna, Valley and Bloom and new Hotel have added and will continue to only add aesthetic appeal to our downtown. You can complain about some of the architectural nuances, color choices, or height, but…the people on here who worry to no end about the aesthetic appeal of our town cannot, in all sincerity, cannot say that the downtown looked better 5 years ago before these structures…that’s simply not true. It was unattractive then, and it is less unattractive, and WAY more vibrant a place now than it was 5 years ago and we can only hope that trend will continue. You want to see some real bad architecture and a real desoloate way of life…go 2 miles and drive past everything that has been put up on rt 3 over the past 50 years…than take a look at what Valley and Bloom and The new hotel are presenting and honestly tell me we have it that bad.

  84. Thanks, Judge. Yes, it was in fact The Beaux-Arts style as championed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White, not Le Corbusier et al and Bauhaus that effectively ended Sullivan’s run.

    (Just for the record, my preferences lie with Thomas, not Tom Wolfe.)

  85. This discussion, better attended than most others on Baristanet, is timely:

    The Township has hired a consultant to look at creating Design Guidelines. The first workshop is this evening, starting with a presentation from the consultant: 7-9:30, in the second floor conference room at the Municipal Building.

    The effort is being led by the Historic Preservation Commission and the Planning and Economic Development Department. “Interested parties are encouraged to attend.” Our leadership needs us. Go. Be heard. This is how we raise the discourse from the virtual to the real.

  86. One question that seems to be lost in all of these discussions, which I feel are very good by the way, is the tax issue. Many times I have heard that we need more taxes for Montclair but do these buildings fill that void? I submit they don’t!!! They are all PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) which is the same deal the Siena received. The town had a hard enough time collecting those funds in the end and still are trying to collect more. If we need more projects for the tax base of Montclair why aren’t these project taxable the way the rest of the town is? We really have been giving the town away to developers!!!

  87. The main problem of the bulk of the block is not the aestetic articulation of the facade to make it “look” less bulky….. or the fact that trees can hide big overscaled buildings in a neighborhood, as wiijames points out.
    The problem is that the massive building blocks in Montclair, once they are over the 4 – 5 storey marks, block taxpayers view corridors. A “panorama” in the real estate value world typically has adds a value of $15k – $25k. Blocking a property’s view lessens the property market value. That is a big problem.

  88. “A “panorama” in the real estate value world typically has adds a value of $15k – $25k” …Bullsh!t, what a ridiculous claim.

    This entire thread reminds of the following.

    Brian Fantana: Don’t get me wrong, I love the ladies. I mean they rev my engines, but they don’t belong in the newsroom.
    Champ Kind: It is anchor*man*, not anchor*lady*. And that is a scientific fact.
    Brick Tamland: I don’t know what we’re yelling about.
    Brian Fantana: You’re with us, Ron, what do you think?
    Ron Burgundy: [shouting] She… Sh… It’s terrible. She has beautiful eyes, and her hair smells like cinnamon.
    Brick Tamland: [shouts] Loud noises.

  89. Trees are often *themselves* the main source of “obstruction” of views of Manhattan from the houses along the various ridge-roads of the mountain.

    There are many, many, *MANY* more houses whose view of Manhattan is blocked by the natural canopy than houses whose view will ever be blocked by tall buildings in Montclair.

  90. parkour,

    We constrained our options with this project when we insisted on 2 key drivers – greed and hubris.

    First, there is no other reason but greed to put 150,000 sf of the highest density use on less than ½ an acre. Second, we still insisted – out of hubris imo – that the building had to be a gateway statement even though it reduced the possibility of it fitting into the corridor you speak of and even after it was relocated from the marginally more appropriate Valley Rd & Bloomfield Ave location.

    Further, lest we forget, there is still almost another acre of Gateway 1 designated as an area of further “rehabilitation”. So, there will be a Phase 3 to Gateway 1.

    Let’s talk about what we asked for – like setbacks – because the Planning Board & Council have conceded every setback requirement at every turn. As an ANR, they have resisted using their distinct spot zoning powers to leverage the panacea of Form Based Codes.

    Massing limits were identified early on at 6 stories with wide, vibrant sidewalks and outdoor spaces. The hotel proposal clearly deviates. Why did we agree to this significant deviation from the plan that we all signed off on?

    As the PB Chair clearly side, these issues suggest there were or there are alternatives. The majority of what I have read here and those I have spoken with readily agree this is not a good design. The discussion then deviates into two main camps – 1) it is better than what was there, or, 2) we can do better. I’m in the latter and I assume you are in the former.

    I say build it – partly because a majority of people will be happy we have a full-service hotel.
    But mostly because by 2016 or so, we will have tangible examples to evolve the development discussion to the next level.

  91. That’s cute willjames, but like all of your pro Centro Verde arguments it doesn’t hold water. You’re way off if you think the size of the building falls off that much with distance. Even in the drawing there’s little reduction in size between the three story building on the right and the gas station roof across the street. But suddenly the 9 floor hotel gets tiny.

    As for the trees that block NYC views, they are bare half the year and don’t block the view.

  92. unmitigated gall,

    I’m not trying to be cute.

    Look. Check out this streetview on Google Maps:,-74.222616,3a,75y,42.47h,91.72t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s1ZrywB1-YROeHAGrfwfAWQ!2e0

    The Bellclair apartments are what? 6 stories tall? And they are *right behind* 691 Bloomfield Avenue, which is 3 stories. But look how much LARGER the three story building looks in this view from just across the street, and how the apartments recede quickly to a vanishing point.

  93. Stayhyphy…the panorama factor is a true statistic and it’s taught in real estate licensing courses.. It’s not BS

  94. “Parkour, if you can look at this picture and honestly think the Siena, next to the beautiful Beaux Arts Wedgewood Building, nevermind the equally beautiful Spanish Mission style Hinck building out of shot, then it’s safe to say we can agree to disagree!”

    Thank you, zidarich. I am glad that the “THEIR” parkour refer to in his/her 10:30 am post was not exclusively directed at me.

    And thank you Frank Rubacky, as I know that you, like some others, have deep roots here and care much about our town, as my use of the word “transplant” seem to have offended parkour.

  95. willjames, your argument is about as accurate as their rendering.

    Firstly, the Bellclair apartments are not 6 stories tall, they are about 4.5 if you factor in the first floor is a bit off ground level as they look to be a split level with the basement. And no, the little decorative “attics” on the roof don’t count as a floor unless you are Quasimodo. If they did, you’d maybe be up to 5 stories.

    Secondly, the Bellclair apartments are not “right behind” the corner building on Bloomfield Ave. There is a parking lot separating them that looks as wide as Bloomfield Avenue itself, added to which you must factor in the width of 691 Bloomfield Ave which about doubles the distance to the Bellcialr apartments from the corner.

    Thirdly, none of the above matters because Google Earth shoots with a 360 degree camera which in no way approximates normal vision. Not even the view you’d get from an average wide angle still camera.

    Fourthly, they provided a painting, not a photograph, of the corner, and paintings don’t have to conform to the laws of optics. It looks like the foreground and middle ground of the rendering (691 Bloomfield Ave on the left and the Eastern Oil gas station on the right) were “shot” with a 50mm normal lens and the MC Hotel right across the street was shot with a 25mm wide angle lens, and these perspectives were morphed together.

    Because: Caveat emptor.

  96. Sorry to tell you, Zidarich: That fine theater stood at the southeast corner of Valley and Bloomfield. The site is and remains a municipal surface parking lot. Paired with the Beaux Arts Police and Fire Building across the street, which still stands, it would have made a genuine architectural gateway into the downtown.

  97. There were parts of the presentation last Monday that were disconnects for me. For example, this quote from above:

    “The MC Hotel, as it is to be called, is to be one of the Marriott Corporation’s Autograph Collection Hotels, a brand of boutique hotels tailored to the uniqueness of their environs rather than based on a cookie-cutter design. ”

    Yet, the lawyers and developers kept referring to Marriott standards that all the rooms had to face the same direction, that 142 units was their minimum, certain sizes & quantity, etc, etc. etc. Everything they were saying was pure cookie-cutter talk. It is not unusual for the PR people and the developers to say different things in different forums, but they said both to the Planning Board Monday. I think the Chair astutely picked up on this.

    Also, the Marriott Corporation has a well developed Corporate Social Responsibility program. It includes an Annual Sustainability Report. However, a LLC is the applicant before the PB – not the Marriott Corp. Considering the G1 Redevelopment Plan requirements, It is perfectly appropriate and acceptable for the PB to query the applicant about their obligations under the Marriott Program and which aspects they do or do not have to adhere to.

    It is not an adversarial exchange, but one of separating the wheat from the chaff before approving the specifics of this project. I say this because the Marriott Sustainability report, in my opinion, is not particularly accomplished when it comes to green initiatives. They have several Silver & Gold Certified LEED hotels – probably all new construction. Yet, this latest addition will struggle just to get certified. I guess that is not a hard standard.

    If they are just providing the “back office” expertise, then I don’t understand how this project will fall under their compliance audit program or if it is just under the Marriott halo, but not their compliance.

    And under the category of weird connections, the Autograph Collection’s Boscolo Palace Roma in Italy is where James Gandolfini passed away. BTW, it is only 87 rooms, but a 5 Star. Therefore, it seems more than reasonable that their minima requirement for Montclair is 142 rooms.

    ” compare the sale price of a house on lot without a view ($314,990) with the price of an identical house near top of a hill with an unobstructed view ($344,990, a premium of 9.5%). Comparing each sale with others with similar types of views, he arrived at premium ranges for each category. The view premiums were remarkably similar in each category, he says.”

  99. Of course I may be mistaken, but its a logical conclusion from material available on the internet, that a property with a view (of NYC in our case) has a 9.5% greater real estate value than a property without a view, and logically the value decreases by 9.5% if the view gets obstructed. If you consider that many of the property owners on the hill are paying over $40k per year in property taxes, It could be a logical conclusion that the property owners who’s views become obstructed are therefore entitled to have a property tax adjustment and pay less taxes because their property value has decreased.

  100. frankgg,
    I don’t think this is going to materially affect most taxpayers view. I’ve look at various sight lines and aside from some blue sky, there is nothing to block.

    It doesn’t matter at this point because we can’t legally unapprove what we approved. As I recall, there was no outcry from taxpayers further up the hill. If there was, I have to assume it was a small minority. Further, I don’t recall the 2nd & 3rd Ward Councilors making a big deal over 9 stories. Remember, it was the Council that proposed adding two more stories to Building 2.

    The only pushback now seems to be the design itself. That is not going to change your issue with the view. Sorry.

  101. No; unmitigated gall’s rendering is NOT more accurate than the official rendering.

    If we count the halo thingy as a ninth floor, the height from the ground to that thing is what, somewhere in the 110 ft range, right? (assuming 12″ per floor)

    See the guy standing at the corner nearest to us? He’s standing approximately 160 ft from the front door of the hotel. ( We know this from this map (scale is at the bottom-right-hand corner): )

    The three story building on the left edge of the frame, 691 Bloomfield Avenue, is 100 ft from the hotel’s front door.

    Based only on these two data points, we know that when we look at a rendering of this building, our cognitive “sense” of the picture should tell us that, if somehow that gray portion of the building were to fall like a chopped-down tree in the direction of that guy on the corner, the building would not, in fact, fall on that poor guy’s head, but instead would fall approximately 50 ft short of him. And we should *also* sense that if that part of the structure fell straight across Bloomfield Avenue, it would probably just hit 691 Bloomfield Avenue. Not utterly crush it, mind you, but just clip it.

    When you look at the official rendering, the description above is accurate. The building looks like it will miss the dude on the corner by a good margin but hit 691 Bloomfield Ave if it falls in either direction.

    When you look at unmitigated gall’s rendering, our visual “sense” of the scene is that if the gray part fell toward our friend on the corner, it would most definitely hit him, and even the building directly behind him. And if it fell directly across Bloomfield Ave onto 691 Bloomfield Ave, it would utterly crush that building.

    In other words, unmitigated gall’s rendering is showing us a building of at least 160 ft—i.e., a 13-story structure—if not even more. It is not accurate. Not in the least.

  102. Thank you FrankR….I do feel however that views will be blocked…the view from where my mother resided on South Mountain….for sure …. all I can say at this point is….”We’ll See!!!”

  103. Willjames….I disagree! Unmittagated Gall’s is more realistic. (take my opinion for what its worth…I was a rendering prof at the Institute of Classical Architecture in NYC and have an architecture degree from Cooper Union.)

  104. So, Frank, you’re going to tell me that when you look at the plumped up version that UG cooked up, the tower portion of his drawing *doesn’t* look like it’s going to fall on top of the guy standing on the NW corner of the intersection?

  105. I think there are two fundamental concept changes that could drive a better design. I’ll list some disclaimers & stakes after.

    1) Change the building’s focus to make Bloomfield Avenue the primary elevation (facade).

    By doing so, I think it changes the approach to the the other elevations, e.g. the whole curved/circle thing becomes extraneous.

    2) Make the buildings verticality and bulk the gateway statement.

    By shifting away from the current horizontal focus to a vertical one, how does that impact a possible building setback and minimizing the mid- story step-backs? Do we need an overdone entryway?

    That’s it. I could go into other elements that might contribute to these concepts, but they would only distract.

    Disclaimers & Stake In The Ground:
    – I’m working within the current parameters of what was approved and what the developers need
    – I don’t believe mid-story step-backs on a building of this bulk and height contribute and in this case, hurt the design
    – I would want any tradeoff in step-backs to go to setback, at least with the first 3 floors, on the Blmfd Ave elevation because that is the only elevation capable of a vibrant streetscape.

  106. willjames, you are basing your argument on a disproportioned drawing.

    Look at the Google image you linked to.

    If those three story buildings across the street were nine stories tall they would pop out of the top of the frame, just like my rendering of the MC Hotel. And yes it is nine stores because there is more to the top floor than the ring. Look at the second, third, and fourth pics on this page.

  107. Poor former Luna Stage building. That addition didn’t work out well. Reminds me of NASA’s 747 jet that carried the space shuttle on its roof.
    So much for renderings.

  108. This isn’t something that requires expertise. If you have the ability to see, once you know two things, you can make up your own mind about which rendering (the original or unmitigated gall’s) is more accurate.

    Here are the only two things you need to know to figure out which rendering is more accurate:

    1.) The structure is approximately 110 feet tall (9 stories x 12′ = 108′)

    2.) The distance from the structure’s front door to the guy standing on the corner nearest to us in the front-facing rendering (i.e., the guy standing on the NW corner of the intersection) is 160 feet.

    Based *only* on those two facts, we know that if the rounded front of the hotel were to fall straight toward that guy on the corner, it would only fall 2/3 of the way toward him. The tippy-top of the ring-feature would fall 50 feet short of him. That simply is a fact based on the height of the building and the distance from SE corner to the NW corner of the intersection.

    The question is therefore: which rendering looks like the building would fall 50 feet short of the guy on the corner if it fell?

    Again, this isn’t a question that one needs expertise to answer. Our eyes and brains are naturally attuned to visual clues to estimate such things by sight. That’s the reason we can catch a ball when it’s thrown to us, or hit a target from a distance.

    By the way: the appeal to authority is a questionable tactic when the question at hand is this basic.

  109. Here’s another what if. What if the three story building were nine stories high and we followed the angle of drop off across the street from the second floor to the gas station roof. Then from the roof to the roof of the hotel. Looks like I may have underplayed it the first time.

    animated rendering part deux.

  110. The two of you are killing me…in only the best of ways.

    Bloomfield Ave is 70′ wide at that intersection. Bell/Orange Rd is 35′ wide.
    The building to the halo is 110′.
    Break out the squared/square roots and knock yourself out to figure out a trapezoid quadrilateral.

    Personally, I would go with the diagonal length you speak of to be around 85′.

  111. Glad I could be of some amusement. Are we going with halo as opposed to flying saucer charging station or ufo landing pad?

  112. No, it is now a Star Gate from our friends at the Skunkworks. This way, we can eliminate historic preservation and for those interested in the past, can go there.

    If the lease on the Star Gate is not renewed, the Conservation Element of the Master Plan says we need a dirigible docking station.

  113. Willjames and Unmitigated Gall, there is a way to reconcile your views.

    Go to the site, have someone whose height you know stand at the location of the future hotel’s front door, retreat and find the precise location of the architect’s photographer so you can recreate the base view that generated the original rendering, take a photo. Find out the height of the proposed corner tower (or make an assumption you can agree on) and, using your friend’s height as a measuring stick, establish where “in the sky” of your photo the tower should top out. Then, copy in to your photo the architect’s render of the hotel, matching its height to the height you have established. It won’t be perfect (because of the way natural and artificial lenses distort at their edges) but you will get a reliable image of the proposed tower in the current context. We await your artistry.

  114. Frank R,

    The distance from the corner of the SE curb to the corner of the NW curb of that intersection is 2.13 times the width of Bloomfield Ave. if Bloomfield Ave is 70 feet wide, that gives us 149.1 feet from SE to NW corners. Add five feet on either side–since the building sits back from the curb, and the dude is standing at least a few feet from the corner, and voila, 160 feet.

  115. And the winner is…. willjames!

    I estimated the diagnol off the wrong set of corners. I was wrong.

    Sorry, Judge & Jury…that is way too complicated a solution when geometry will get us close enough.

    Honorable mention to the 1st runner up, unmitigated gall for the PS work.

    The good news is that no pedestrians will be hurt in the killing off that tower thingamajig.

  116. I’m glad you guys have settled on this hypothetical about buildings falling on pedestrians across the street. But the hotel rendering is still too small.

  117. Yes it is, but we had some good laughs. Must do it again soon. Anyone for calculating total square footage?

    Seriously, we’ve all learned our hard lessons well before this thread started about artisitc renderings. It’s all part of the game.

  118. I was pleasantly shocked to notice that, (as the rendering clearly indicates), the columns under the UFO pad-halo-rooftop bar are nearly identical to the columns under the gas station roof just across the street, in terms of coloration, configuration, proportion, and function. Hence, a striking, visual harmony is achieved at the intersection between the two structures. This type of visual compatibility is a hallmark of good contextual design. And, on a subtler note, cars will be gassing up ( and topping off )at the service station and people will be gassing up ( and topping off ) at the rooftop bar. And directly across the street from each other. Further contextualism. This cannot be a mere coincidence. I have a hunch that this design is far more powerful than it seems, and that it is attempting to reach us at different levels of perception and understanding. We cannot overlook this possibility while engaging in a thorough aesthetic analysis.

  119. A thousand or so posts back @claremont lamented the use of PILOTS but this misses the point. PILOTS have become commonplace mechanisms to provide predictability as regards a future stream of payments; do it right and a PILOT is essentially a wash with normal taxes, which have more unknowns. Projects with PILOTS are easier to finance, developers save money.

    The issue with the SIENNA PILOT had more to do with incompetence on the township’s part and I believe this was identified and remedied.

  120. Thank you FrankR…The best remedial concept change that seen so far… I agree …and hope that its taken into consideration….

    “POSTED BY Frank Rubacky | JUNE 12, 2014 @ 4:53 PM
    I think there are two fundamental concept changes that could drive a better design. I’ll list some disclaimers & stakes after.
    1) Change the building’s focus to make Bloomfield Avenue the primary elevation (facade).
    By doing so, I think it changes the approach to the the other elevations, e.g. the whole curved/circle thing becomes extraneous.
    2) Make the buildings verticality and bulk the gateway statement.”

    In my opinion, the proposed building block massing is what hurts the project most, and then there is the “neo-funky, post hipster” design that misinterprets the Montclair “style” (thats got to go) ….There is always something preciously high quality and old world about “Montclair Style” and we see nothing of these characterists. Or even something classicly modern …but not pastiche or gadget…. Go see how nicely the new bulky buildings fit into East Orange Center… they actually look GREAT…why can’t Montclair learn from East Orange?

    What I would do to make the design work in its high visibility Montclair Center context is more or less along the lines of what Frank R says…

    I would copy the massing, color, materials and articulation of the elegant police building across the street, to the same height for the first setback… This would give a strong sence of arrival into the Montclair Downtown…. and serve as the horizantal base of the building. Then I ould go verticle with one or two distinct towers…. (I would prefer glass and steel technological spires)…. if they’re not like the overly bulky and tall “roadblock” (viewblocker in my mind), they can even be taller…. not block the NYC view…. but work nicely with it as glass towers…

  121. Thank you frankgg.
    I’m now a little concerned with the base of this building.

    In a nutshell, there really is nothing on the first floor but guest services. Further, almost all of the public space is enclosed within the building’s envelope. As NYC found, density bonuses resulted in public space within buildings, and over time, restricting public access rights they exchanged height for, i.e. Sony.

    As a matter of fact, if you move the reception desk & library to the mezzanine level, there is no reason the 1st floor can’t be totally open like the Orange Rd elevation. A real head-scratcher of an architectural problem, this one is.

    Pinnacle has only itself to blame because they requested this lot configuration when they subdivided it from the original lot. Now all the professionals are blaming the very challenging lot configuration for necessitating concessions to the plan.

    You have to admit, it does introduce some humor into this application process.

  122. What are these architects doing? This mishmash of styles, massing and materials is horrendous.

    I’m sure they’re getting a check from the developer……but trashing the town in the process.

  123. Mr. Muir thinks this captures the essence of Montclair? I guess Mr. Muir doesn’t think much of Montclair. That building is hideous! It looks very generic, cheap, boring, and subpar.

    It looks like something I’ve seen in other non-descript suburban areas all over America. I thought Montclair was supposed to be different? I thought Montclair was unique? This building says nothing to that.

    I look at those pictures and shake my head in disgust…

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