What is it?
An office building near the railroad arch on the corner of Main and Lyman streets in downtown Springfield. The north façade still has the original look of an early XX century financial institution, the west façade, not so much.
When this building was built things were done right, the set back, the relationship to the street, the height. The Doric columns, applied pilasters, and simple entablature that remain give the building a dignity and solidity that few modern structures can match. With the decline many downtowns have experienced in the last 50 years it is rare to have a building which still gives the side street the respect it deserves by not presenting it with a blank face or a series of exhaust ports and ventilation ducts.
At some point during the post-war period the front façade was stripped of its decorative elements and what remains does not do justice either to the building’s original design or the prominent location it enjoys. The current signage is inconsistent and confused, and gives the impression that the property is one about which no one cares.
What to do?
Making the now blank areas of the façade a space for artistic creativity could engage the public’s imagination and make this gateway building an asset instead of a liability. A competition involving local artists for a fresco design, possibly including ideas for coordinated signage, could turn this building into a symbol of Main Street’s rebirth.
Window frames could be created, columns and pilasters invented, and architectural details could be fabricated in the manner of the Casa de la Panadería building located in Madrid’s famous Plaza Mayor: