New Comfort Station Designs OK’d

New Comfort Station Designs OK’d
New Comfort

OCEAN CITY – After almost year and three modified renderings of the new Caroline Street Comfort Station & Performing Arts Stage, slated to break ground in October, the Mayor and City Council granted approval of the facility’s design this week.

In November 2011, architect David Quillin and City Engineer Terry McGean presented a proposed design of the new Caroline Street Comfort Station, but the council was not enthused and requested some changes.

At that time, Quillin proposed a design that featured a stage positioned in the center of the building with the restrooms on each side. The stage faced the beach where the audience can set up to watch performances and the dressing room separates the stage from the Boardwalk. The stage was proposed to be covered with a canvas awning stretched tight that would not move in the wind and there was a shaded seating area positioned behind the stage on the Boardwalk as well as along the edges of the building.

There were two solar chimneys in the center of the building that would act as green houses. They would collect heat that warms the building and that air will rise out of the building creating a negative pressure in the restrooms. The chimneys were proposed to also be available to be lit to create a signal for when a performance is taking place on the stage acting as a beacon drawing in an audience.

The design of the building, which Quillin calls the Caroline Street Performing Arts Stage and Comfort Station, was meant to represent sand dunes, with a vegetated roof or beach grass planted on the roof of the building. The benefit to a vegetated roof is it allows the building to become pervious having rain be absorbed and not creating runoff.

In April, Quillen returned and said the goals during the revision were to modify the design to be more similar to other recent city projects, eliminating the vegetated roof and utilizing a design with a slightly more traditional appearance and keeping with a more “old town Ocean City appearance”.

The changes made included the vegetated roof being made into a barrel-vaulted copper standing-seam roof, aluminum window frames and bracing was changed from anodized silver to white to match the arch on N. Division Street and other recent city projects, end porches were changed to have exposed wood trusses and pigment was added to the concrete to give color.

At that time, the majority of the council was in consensus that the building still did not represent the traditional look of Ocean City and suggested changes to be made, such as adding gables to the towers to be consistent with the Boardwalk arch, to add a color scheme to the building to match other city buildings and to explore options to enclose the trusses on the ends of the building rather than the exposed trusses.

Quillin this week presented a revised version, which included a barrel-vaulted roof changed to gable roof, the fabric awning over the stage also changed to a gable roof, and the end porches and stage were changed to have exposed wood trusses with bow bottom-chord.

“The plan has not changed, the mechanical functioning of the building has not changed … the placement is the same and the footprint is the same,” Quillin said.

In less than five minutes, the council approved the design.

“I think you have done a great job … I think it’s great,” Council President Jim Hall said.

Ocean City Development Corporation Executive Director Glenn Irwin added, “The new gable roof over the building and stage area add a lot to the character of the building. The exposed wood trusses with the bow bottom-chord add to that nautical feel. We believe this revised building will be an attractive addition to the fully reconstructed Boardwalk.”