Edison Redesign Hits City Today

Edison_AERIAL The News & Observer’s Business section featured a story on the latest design for The Edison. The previous design (Site plan .PDF), which wrapped retail, condos, and hotel space around the RBC Plaza deck on Wilmington Street, has been through several renditions. Every one, to this point, stepped aside for Wilmington Street corner retail sites like Coopers Barbecue and Reliable Loan to remain.

Today’s Jack Hagel story reveals that Gregg Sandreuter, the Edison’s developer, made deals with the owners of those corner retail spots. Now the entire block is in play, and it allows for far more aggressive design possibilities.

Edison_ELEV The newest incarnation , designed by Raleigh’s J Davis Architects , features four towers: two twins at 39 stories and two at 29 stories. The towers would include high-rise pools, condominium units, hotel space, and 250,000 square feet of office space. The plan is to finish one tower by 2012 and complete the final tower by 2018. ( New Site Plan – .pdf)

map it

Photos courtesy J Davis Architects

Here are some thoughts about the attached two renderings: The first image is an aerial view from the Southeast (The NW corner of Progress II can be seen in the lower right). It appears that the west towers (the taller ones) have 18 or so floors of condos or hotel space. This is revealed by the shorter floor heights above the level where the 20th floor pools are.

Because it appears that in the second rendering the taller tower has heavy horizontal features above floor 20, I can only assume that this building is thought to have condos. It also appears that on Wilmington street, between the two taller towers, there will be a parking garage that is about 8 floors high. This would correspond to the newly-built RBC Plaza garage that currently sits in the middle of the property. It appears there is no plan for retail space in the middle of the block on the Wilmington Street side. There has to be a service entrance on this facade. Perhaps the length of that wall is not long enough to create more of a concrete canyon (much like the block to the south’s). The lower floors of the west towers have a similar appearance, and may also feature parking levels. The garage appears to have a “green roof”, so gardens will be accessible to people in the complex. Finally, the towers’ pools will sit on ledges on the towers’ east sides. One concern here is the absence of sunlight in afternoon hours, especially at the north tower’s pool.

It appears that there is another public space, a cafe, at about the 8th floor level just to the east of the SW tower. Because the shorter towers are full of flooring spaced vertically like the floors below the west towers’ pools, these East towers are presumably 100% office space about the street level. Maybe there are parking levels between 2-8 as well, but it’s hard to tell from the renderings.

The eastern towers, reported to be around 29 stories tall, are shorter, creating a sharp terraced effect from the taller buildings to the west. The collection of buildings stepping down from the center of the urban core eventually will creates a sandpile profile as seen in communities everywhere from Mont St. Michel to today’s most famous skylines. Gone will be Raleigh’s diastema skyline (finally! – at least from all directions except west and east).

The northern (Martin St.) elevation shows nearly the entire project’s facade lined with retail and restaurant space. There is a lobby for the NW tower, but the rest of the space’s retail corresponds with the long-running downtown plan of having Martin and Hargett Streets as Raleigh’s new retail corridors. The elevation also depicts some graphics on the NE tower about 6-7 floors up. Presumably these will be some type of static, printed artwork or (maybe) dynamic video displays. The idea currently is shown on the Charter Square project (also designed by J Davis), and corresponds to the intent to bring fun to the new retail corridor.

Finally, the crowns on all four of the towers finish off diagonal lines that arise from each tower’s base. The angled pairs in the East towers compliment without mimicking the angled pairs in the West towers. Because of this design continuity, all of the crowns look like they belong with their towers and with each other (as opposed to the RBC Plaza’s off-purpose crown). I wonder if the thought of four different building heights all stepping down in a circular fashion, was discussed. Each crown could have a complimentary, but unique, crown. Cesar Pelli’s World Financial Center complex in NYC is a fantastic project much like what I’m describing.

The loss of retail from the run-down properties on the site’s current SW and NW corners is a chink in Raleigh historic preservation. However, the overwhelming infusion of energy, humanity, and economy that this project would bring to downtown is sorely needed. There will continue to be more design tweaks, but hopefully the final project will end up being very close to what the architects released today.

6/15 Note: Here is the Site Plan (.pdf)



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  • Hunter Said:

    Who is the structural engineer on this project? I guess J Davis usually works with FluhrerReed most of the time?

  • Ernest Said:


    The aerial rendering actually shows the smaller towers to be 29 floors tall, not 18. In fact, it wasn’t planned to be 18 floors to begin with. Unfortunately, the low resolution renderings supplied by both N&O and WRAL are not clear enough. I have a high resolution image and you can count 28-29 floors.

    Note: I think they do not count the 13th floor, so it is safe to say the towers will be 38 and 28 floors. Regardless, yesterday was a great day for Raleigh. It was the day we started to hope for big things to come. Four nice size towers in one city block is an amazing proposal, no matter which city it is proposed for!!!

  • Dana Said:

    I’m not sure where you’re getting the number “18″. I think the only time I used it was to describe the number of floors of hotel/condo sitting on top of the pool levels.
    NEvertheless, it was a great day for Raleigh. Are we the only two who noticed? The N&O buried this news to the Business section, and put the photo of Coopers above the fold! This rendering should have at least been in the margins on page 1A!!! Second, the comments and emails about this have been scant, not just here but on other sites, too. Crazy.

  • lee Said:

    what are the chances that another architect comes in with ideas for raleigh?

  • Greg Said:

    I think it’s very exciting. It looks great!

  • Ernest Said:


    This is the part that I misread, as you guessed: “It appears that the west towers (the taller ones) have 18 or so floors of condos or hotel space.” It was my fault, as you referred to the portion of the tallest tower, not the shortest one… My apologies :(

    Now let me say that I do not lament the loss of the old buildings still standing there. There is no historic significance to them, anyway we cut it and slice it. What is historic, on the other hand, is the persistence of the human nature… The businesses that remained there when everyone else fled downtown. To me, THAT is significant, so I am happy to see Cooper’s BBQ remain in that block. We may find beauty in older buildings, but maybe it is time to ask the people who actually work there… How much fun is it to work in extremely outdated facilities? I do hope they will preserve some of the character that the existing businesses have created for their customers.

    As for the skyline, two 574ft and two 369ft towers will make a significant impact. Sure, I hope that we’ll see a little variation in the final form and height of the taller components (maybe a 40-45 story and a 45-50 story tower instead), but I am fine with the smaller buildings being twins :)

  • Lew Said:

    I think it’s an AMAZING edition to DT Raleigh skyline/experience/future! RBC’s building will get lost a bit but that builing will still add a nice touch to the skyline. I can’t wait for the Edison to get built and to see the tenants that the buildings will draw: Fidelity, SunTrust, Morgan Stanley … bring it on.

    From a visual standpoint, I like how the buildings relate to each other and even though it is a large undertaking, it will make it seem even larger. Maybe they can do a similar project in 10 years after they implode the Marriot!

  • John Said:

    For some reason the tops of the tallest two towers strongly remind me of one of Shanghai’s (many) landmark buildings: http://s3.amazonaws.com/readers/quazen/2007/10/26/72037_1.jpg

  • Aaron Said:

    The two things I dislike about the complex is the fact that there are four towers on one square block, right behind the now tallest building in Raleigh. I think there are plenty of better areas to build such a complex. However, the Edison is beatiful and is a wonderful edition to downtown Raleigh and the skyline.

  • Ken Metzger Said:

    I think that we are being way too concerned about how the skyline looks. The skyline has almost zero affect on the whole of a city. Are Paris, London, or Barcelona great cities because of their skyline? No, a city becomes great (or at least good) from the culture and usability of the city. Without much better infrastructure or transportation the city cannot handle many more towers. Sure the building are mixed use, but what percentage of people will actually live and work in the same area?
    I would love to have some new beautiful buildings, but why not make them four or five stories tall with shops on the first floor, office on the second and apartments above? This would create a higher density, but maintain an intimate feel within the city. Most downtowns with many skyscrapers become much more desolate than their modest density counterparts (like Atlanta’s downtown versus Buckhead and Highlands, Seattle’s downtown versus the Hills and Belltown, and New York’s lower east side versus the villages and Brooklyn)

  • Ari Said:

    AWESOME NEWS for Raleigh’s skyline, for downtown, and for the city itself. I’ve been waiting on Raleigh to get an actual 550 foot+ skyscraper since I heard about the Soleil Center in Crabtree. I think it’s a crime to have Raleigh’s to-be-second tallest go to Crabtree. It would have been a great addition to the skyline. Also, Ken, I believe that cities indeed are not great because of their towers, but because of…… that stuff you said. However, I do believe that the height and size of a city’s skyscrapers are a status symbol as to how large the city is (population) and how much business it has/doesn’t have. Plus, how else are you going to live 500 feet in the air?? Examples: New York City: 8.1 million people. 5,600 skyscrapers! Philadelphia: 1.4 million people. 400 skyscrapers! Chicago: 2.8 million people. 1,100 skyscrapers + under construction tallest building in Western Hemisphere! Los Angeles: 3.9 million people. 500 skyscrapers! Raleigh: 380,000 people. 40 skyscrapers! You get the point. The number of skyscrapers a city has is representative of how influential it is in the world business market. Also, if you guys wanna see some AWESOME pics of the Raleigh skyline, visit Matt Robinson’s RaleighSkyline.com @ http://www.raleighskyline.com/ On a final note, great job with analysis of this event, Dana! Very thorough.

  • David Said:

    I think it is less the size of the buildings that provides the enthusiasm/nightlife/uniqueness than the options the reorganization provides at the ground level all the way up. Yes, our skyline should be much more impressive, given the population of Raleigh/Cary etc. But having these projects connect with each other (Progress to Edison to Moore square to City Market, etc.) would be great if eventually it created a continuity that stretched into the warehouse district and tied to Glenwood South, for example, all as within walking, or at least bar-hopping destinations. Is raleigh atlanta? No, but neither is Glenwood South, Buckhead.

  • Dana Said:

    Word is that the space/purposing of the towers is not set, and is designed to be flexible right up to construction to meet the market’s demand.

    There are a few clarifications to my post, though:
    * The west towers include one level of retail, 8 stories of parking, 11 floors of office, and 17 floors of residential; ~37 floors. The north buildings are mirror images of the south buildings.

    * From the Site Plan, one can see that there will be a service alleys running through of the project from Wilmington St. to Blount, dividing it into thirds (on the current outer walls of the new RBC Plaza parking deck).

  • FLOYD Said:

    hi,i live n durham and i was wondering why wouldn’t you put this tower in downtown durham i would go good with the downtown city center view along with the towers thats planed 2 come …….n for the record durham is a better place 2 live than raleigh it has a amazing downtown .n filled with things 2 do…move 2 durham….-Durham Convention And Visitor

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