May 29, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
Projects have their challenges at every scale.
And in designing a 1.6 million-square-foot building at the heart
of what is hoped to be Hartford's new foot-traffic-fueled future,
one of the challenges for the architects at TVS, a firm based in
Atlanta, was to find ways to make the big convention center feel
Or at least smaller.
"The building is so big, you need to get some human-scale detail
that people can relate to so they don't feel overwhelmed by the facility," said
Thomas Ingram, the 35-year-old project architect who has worked on
the convention center since 1999.
So as he walked the site in late April, he pointed to the building's
attempt at small-scale humanity - the canopies over huge entranceways,
small light fixtures on big structural posts, planters in the promenades.
"Even the use of brick is a small human scale you can relate
to," Ingram said. "You can pick one up in your hand."
Since last summer, Ingram has
spent three days a week in Hartford away from his company's Atlanta
offices. Over the years, his job has evolved from overall building
design to overseeing the building's exterior "skin" to
keeping an eye on quality during construction.
"It's such a long procedure, and I'm beginning to see things
show up that have been in the planning, literally, for years," he
said. "It's like Christmas every day. A light fixture here,
a bolt there."
Speaking of the lights, Ingram
didn't design them, but he can see their effect from his hotel
room in East Hartford. "We always
intended the space to be a lantern, so the public can see what's
going on, since it is the state's building," he said.
Years back - long before lighting
design and landscaping - came the question of how to best use the
space at Adriaen's Landing. Do you sprawl out, or up? The answer,
Ingram said, was up - and the building's vertical "stacked" design
is part of what makes it unique and efficient, he said.
But that's not the only advantage. Stacking the building's ballroom,
meeting space, exhibition space and parking on top of one another
created a towering atrium from which all public points of the center
can be seen, he said.
"You put all of your eggs in one basket, and you get a much
grander space than you would normally for a facility this size," Ingram
Finally, stacking allowed for an outdoor parking area on Columbus
Boulevard - one that gives the center a sense of belonging, but one
that also could be used for future center expansion. (The Columbus
Boulevard wall of the convention center was built to be blown out,
should the need to expand arise, he said.)
"The shows don't get smaller, they get bigger," Ingram
said. "And you want to be able to grow with your market."
But that will likely be a design job for someone else to deal with,
"I'll let you know in June," he said, when asked if he
felt any separation anxiety. "This is all I've been doing for
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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