Members of a Baltimore design committee urged the city slots developers Thursday to consider a bolder design and do more to enhance the Russell Street corridor.
"We have expressed a bit of concern that the concept is not quite what we're looking for," said City Planning Director Thomas J. Stosur after listening to a one-hour presentation by Reich & Petch, the Toronto-based architecture firm that will design the casino.
The Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel advises the city's planning department on major projects but does not have the authority to veto a design. Members will meet with the developers at least two more times before making a recommendation.
Paul Micucci, an official with the Baltimore City Entertainment Group, which will build the site, stressed that the designs are in their infancy and the organization currently is focused on obtaining a slots license from the state.
The planned buildings are covered with red brick and look similar to Camden Yards. The main public entrance would be on Warner Street, with openings for delivery and staff on Russell Street.
"It is a shame we don't use this opportunity. ... [Russell Street] is not just a gateway to the project, it is a gateway to the city," said Gary A. Bowden, a panel member. Bowden also called the design "very safe" but "not necessarily exciting."
Stan Brit, another panelist, suggested the architects should "establish a new vernacular" by going beyond the traditional brick warehouse look.
Panelists also said they were concerned with the size of the garage and wanted to know more about how it would conform to city environmental standards.
Architects suggested covering one side that would face the water with plants, an idea that received a warm reception from the panel.