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Monday, September 23, 2013

Tour of Whole Foods renovation

    Last Thursday I had a chance to tour the renovation of the old Rouse Building into a 48,000 sq. ft. Whole Foods market and the Columbia Association's new "Mind and Body" facility.

     The picture above shows how the floors of the Whole Foods market had to be reinforced by pouring new cement floors to carry the increased load of their market.  Office buildings don't require the same floor loads.  The pillar supports above have not been enlarged with 20 inch diameter concrete posts as the ones in the picture below.

 The windows of the existing building pictured below will be replaced in most areas with walls with murals of food. That is a shame as the view of Lake Kittamaqundi will be lost.

       The one area that will still have a window view is above which will be the area of seating by the food court.  Scenes like below will give us a view of the Lakefront.

    The parking lot for the building will be off center from the entrance to the parking lot.  As a guide to those entering the building a covered walkway will lead shoppers to the entrance of the building.  The columns above are the beginning of the covered walkway.

    While the Whole Foods market will take up the two floors of the building the Columbia Association "Mind and Body" facility will occupy the lower level of the building.  There will be two staffed outside entrances to this facility to meet fire codes for egress.  The rendering of the facility pictured above show how this facility with differ from other CA facilities.  There will be no exercise equipment or gym.  Your CA membership won't get you into this facility.  It may be run by CA but seems to be targeted to a more selective population. With rooms labeled "European" and "Asian" this facility will be focused more like a salon than an exercise facility.  Pilates and Tai Chi, along with massage and sauna are more the theme here then heavy sweating activities.  CA must be assuming that the residents of this growing area of Columbia are going to be more upscale than other areas of our town.  Downtown development seems to have taken on an upscale theme with the new residences, office development, Whole Foods and this CA facility.

   Interestingly the old 20,000 sq. ft. Spear Center space pictured above on the third floor doesn't have an occupant.  Howard Hughes Corporation is still looking for the right occupant for this space.  When asked if financially the building could accommodate a public usage rather than a commercial occupant the answer was that Howard Hughes is a commercial developer.  Hummm.......   Tomorrow more on downtown changes we will see shortly.

    Renowned architect Frank Gehry designed the Rouse Building and originally thought that the building would be a great place for the arts.  He wanted the building have an open space usage and was concerned when Jim Rouse indicated the need to have offices in the building. Touring the building last year he indicated that the planned redevelopment was an interesting reuse of the building.

Vote for Neighbor Ride in a Tom's contest

For a humorous report on shopping at Whole Foods check out this link.

P.S. 3
Washington Post opinion piece that raised a good question.

1 comment:

Chase Howard said...

Thanks for sharing the progress of this! The restaurant I own is going through some massive renovations as well, and one of the first things that we did was get a new HVAC system because we will need to have a consistent temperature in the building while it is going through the renovations.