City-appointed design review committee lukewarm on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive design

Struggling with questions of its relevancy, the Creative Corridors Design Review Committee today scrapped its initial checklist to determine whether the Martin Luther King Drive makeover meets design guidelines.

"If people's scores stay the same, then under the new method it would be approval with adjustments... and the project is moderately consistent with [Creative Corridors] guidelines," said Assistant City Manager Greg Turner, one of the city staff members assigned to support the citizen committee, after the unanimous vote.

The design review committee, which consists of architects, designers and community leaders, was appointed by city council to review design plans for major corridors around downtown Winston-Salem.

The design review committee is reviewing the design plans for the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to determine the extent to which it meets green, artful, iconic and networking attributes. The committee's initial pass, which included input from six out of 11 committee members overall gave the design by the firm Design Works medium marks in all four categories, with a smattering of both low and high marks by individual members in all four.

The new checklist drafted by committee chair Brian Kubecki, streamlines the document, dispensing with sub-categories. If the committee finds the design to be "highly consistent" with guidelines it will recommend that the project proceed. If it is found to be "moderately consistent," the committee will recommend proceeding with adjustments. A finding of "not consistent" will result in a recommendation of revision and resubmittal.

The new checklist also asks whether the project is in design development phase and whether it fits within budgetary restrictions. If the answer to either of those questions is no, then document instructs reviewers to not continue with the review.

Member Jimmy Norwood, an architect, questioned whether the committee's input would make any difference.

"You may not see me at the next meeting," he said, "because I'm not going to waste my time with something that's already done."

Turner confirmed that the project was at least at the end of the design development phase, but Norwood insisted that it has progressed past that point.

"There are construction documents," he said. "I've seen 'em."

Winston-Salem Transportation Director Toneq' McCullough said she doesn't believe there are any documents for the project beyond the schematic renderings initially presented by Design Works in November.

"We haven't given them authorization to proceed with any construction documents," she said. 

Member Dianne Caesar expressed frustration that the project is not yet funded by the city of Winston-Salem.

"We're certainly spinning our wheels if there's no money in the budget for it," she said.

Kubecki rallied members of the committee, which was formed in October. The Martin Luther King Jr. Drive is the first project on the committee's list for review. The committee will also be tasked with reviewing corridor design projects on Business 40, Broad Street and Peters Creek Parkway.

"Everyone please come next month," Kubecki said. "We're doing great things. I feel like we're on the cusp of breaking through having something that works."


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