There are no flourishes or deep dives in today’s post; I’m simply offering up some alternatives to the new Hampton Inn that will open in a dreadful building to be built at the southern end of Washington Street in Salem, in a thoroughly commercial zone. There’s no preservation issue here–this building will replace a rather dilapidated one-story commercial strip built in the twentieth century–but there are “suitability” questions, which the general public never seems to have the opportunity to weigh in on: of size, scale, use, design. This is the latest in a series of big boxy buildings built in downtown Salem that are transforming its architectural character in a rather alarming manner.
Rendering and model of the recently-approved five-story, 178,000-square- foot, $50 million-dollar building-complex to be built on an entire city block between Washington and Dodge Streets and Dodge Street Court in Salem, Salem News.
The Hampton Inn will comprise only part of this monstrous complex, which is being developed by RCG, a real estate development company headquartered in Somerville, MA which has an ever-increasing profile in Salem. The generically ghastly Tavern in the Square building (which everyone refers to as the TITS building), located just a few yards down Washington Street from the Hampton Inn site, is proudly posted on their corporate website, and indeed the first design for the latter looked very much like the former. Apparently it was “improved” in the planning and design review process, so it is “better” now, both “better” than what was there before and better than the original design. The potential economic benefits of this project are considerable, so its design is a secondary (tertiary? inconsequential?) consideration: it is “better” so it will be built. As I indicated above, the Hampton Inn is only one component of this project, but that is the component which can offer some comparisons, so I went searching for some. There’s been some criticism of a chain hotel coming to Salem, but I don’t share that view: I think we are losing out to the chains proximate to Route 128 if we don’t have something comparable in our city. But we don’t need to accept a standardized design: it seems clear to me that Hilton Worldwide will conform to local settings for their Hampton Inns (actually now I think they are called Hampton by Hilton) brand, but apparently setting is not a consideration in Salem.
A subjectively-selected showcase of urban Hampton Inns: first new construction, then adaptive reuse, which is not an option for the Salem site.
New Orleans/Garden District
July 22nd, 2016 at 9:17 am
I too have been totally puzzled by the seeming mania for boxlike buildings. I am deeply puzzled, even often astonished, by a lot what passes for “great” in Salem, however, so oh well….
July 22nd, 2016 at 9:21 am
I know…it’s kind of hard to get excited about them now because there have been so many, and it is always a fait accompli.
July 22nd, 2016 at 9:32 am
Completely characterless and ugly. Most likely this design is cheaper to build than one that might actually add to Salem’s downtown appearance. Another opportunity missed.
July 23rd, 2016 at 9:11 am
It looks like a converted parking garage.
July 23rd, 2016 at 10:06 am
Well part of it is going to be parking….it does have a 70s look to it, I think.
July 23rd, 2016 at 1:55 pm
seems that all the builders putting up stuff in salem have the attitude, that “it’s good enough for salem”.
July 23rd, 2016 at 4:33 pm
I do think that message is out there, Rick
July 24th, 2016 at 12:45 am
It looks like the new development at the intersection of Lafayette and West Ave (replacing the old A&P) is happening too- most of the businesses are closed. Have you seen a final plan for it?
July 24th, 2016 at 7:07 am
I have–it’s much improved on the original design and does not look like a big glass box anymore BUT it is still pretty big!
July 25th, 2016 at 1:43 pm
It reminds me a lot of the building that replaced St. Joseph’s Church right around the corner on Lafayette. I wish they would take a look at some of the older buildings on Lafayette for inspiration. My dream is that someone would do a variation on the theme of the old train station that used to be in Riley Plaza.
July 25th, 2016 at 3:42 pm
Oh that would be cool.
August 5th, 2016 at 8:09 pm
What a hideous monstrosity! No landscaping whatsoever. I can’t believe the city planners are allowing this to be built. Salem is losing a lot of its charm with these big box buildings that would be more appropriate in a larger city.