Letters to the editor — The Courier-Gazette
Get on with it
I think the small lobster trap art at the Ferry Terminal park should be retained year-round. It is perfect for that park given its relation to the harbor. It could be decorated according to the season; the public could be invited to decorate it; many people would have their photographs taken next to it. Do, please, consider leaving it.
As to the stew about the new CMCA building: the Planning Board and the city has already allowed a modern contemporary home to be built within an old neighborhood; approval was given for the Farnsworth to hang modernist "awnings" on the building; the redesigns for the Tillson area that I have seen, and, which, as I recall, met with unanimous approval, were most definitely modern and neither "historic" in appearance, nor "New England" in effect; and a contemporary building on Winter Street could serve to attract attraction to "old town/historic Main Street," and original homes, neighborhoods, and buildings in Rockland.
Other than wishing that the CMCA planners would allow Toshiko Mori's design to include a covered inner courtyard for a nice touch of humanity, public space, and practicality, there is no need for a brouhaha surrounding the building design. Rockland is not, after all, Sturbridge Village, and no one's plans, including those grand redesign plans for the north Main Street to Rockport corridor, are anything but "modern." Just get on with it, eh?
Allow good design
My wife and I were a part of the arts community in Austin for 24 years, my wife as a museum director and myself as an artist and teacher at the University of Texas. I also served on the Art in Public Places panel for six years.
In reading the article on the conflict between the architect for CMCA, the proposed art museum, and the planning board, I'm reminded of an opportunity lost by the University of Texas to have on their campus a world class (that's an over-used descriptive but apt in this instance) art museum designed by an outstanding architect. The complaint was that the design didn't "fit in" with the rest of the campus architecture. The unfortunate result was to discard the highly original design that would have brought recognition to the school and replace it with an ugly, poorly functioning design by committee.
Might I suggest that contemporary design can work very well with Victorian or Colonial architecture and that the Rockland Planning Board rethink its zoning regulations so as to allow good design to be a part of a growing, art savvy community.
Presence creates vitality
As a former director of CMCA when it was known as Maine Coast Artists, I was delighted to hear of its plan to move to Rockland. I had recommended that it do so in the late 1990s before it renovated the old barn that had been its home for decades. There is no question in my mind that Rockland will be where CMCA ought to be. Now the question is “does Rockland want it?” And if it so, does Rockland want it to look like it has always been in Rockland? Seems some think it looks too modern, and doesn't fit into the place it proposes to be.
Where it wants to be is presently, a parking lot. Even the building it wants to replace was a parking garage. If the existing building were torn down there would be nothing in that part of downtown Rockland but parking lots for blocks.
Seems there are requirements to have doors and windows and “fancy cornices” every few feet in any new construction in this location. A member of the Planning Board says such elements make a place have vitality. But it isn’t doors and windows and “fancy cornices” that make a place vital. It is the presence of people that creates vitality. The proposed building will attract people. The renovated Strand Theatre and the expansion of the Farnsworth Museum have revitalized downtown Rockland. Main Street was dead after dark before the Strand reopened. Now Main Street with all its great restaurants and galleries is alive. It has been reborn.
Does the Planning Board really want a clapboard building that looks like it was built before 1941?
If CMCA had proposed to replace an existing building on Main Street, it should be denied. Main Street has an historic architectural integrity and the proposed building would be totally out of place. But the building is being proposed for a parking lot. It’s presence there will become an incentive to rejuvenate that part of downtown between Main Street and the waterfront in the near future.
I have not seen the model, but only the drawing of the proposed building so I cannot see the “long blank wall” that has upset some people. If it were a movie theater being proposed there, or an auditorium, would it be required to have doors, windows and fancy cornices every few feet? Is there a market for more storefronts on Winter Street?
As I look at the drawing, rather than the boxed trees in the courtyard, I would prefer to see a sculpture garden. Or perhaps a major sculpture of one of the great Rockland area artists like Nevelson, Indiana or Bernard Langlais, whose Eagle graced the entryway at the old Maine Coast Artists gallery in Rockport. Well, CMCA, you can't please everybody.