Pre-Fab Deja Vu: Why can’t Walt Worthy learn from past mistakes?

Construction continues Walt Worthy's Convention Center Hotel. Pre-fabricated concrete panel installation has begun and is expected to progress quickly. (PHOTO: Trebor of Spokane on SkyscraperPage Forum)

Construction continues Walt Worthy’s Convention Center Hotel. Pre-fabricated concrete panel installation has begun and is expected to progress quickly. (PHOTO: Trebor of Spokane on SkyscraperPage Forum)

Look, we’re excited about Walt Worthy’s new Convention Center Hotel downtown set to open in 2015. We are. Really. But who was the genius that sold him on pre-fab construction? The guy (in)famously said after the Davenport Hotel Tower was completed to little fanfare that instead of choosing more attractive glass and steel, “investments were made on the inside of the building” (that’s a paraphrase). The same seems to be playing out across the street from the INB Performing Arts Center. Precast concrete paneling is being installed quickly and efficiently, and the familiar array of perfectly-aligned square windows is already beginning to take shape. Photos from Trebor of Spokane on the SkyscraperPage Forum provide us with a look at the construction (click the link for more photos of the construction progress).

Our question…is Walt obsessed with local pre-fab concrete company Central Pre-Mix Prestress? Actually, indications are…yes. Some of Walt Worthy’s largest projects have utilized the company. The Davenport Hotel Tower. The admittedly somewhat nicer-looking River View Corporate Center. The list goes on. All constructed by Prestress. With the major impact that the new tower will have on Spokane’s skyline, we have to wonder…at what point does the relative unattractiveness of downtown towers begin to harm economic potential? Would a statement building have been a better choice to attract conventions, visitors, and new businesses? Time will tell.

Until then, construction continues.

What do you think? Would a statement building featuring steel and glass have sent a better message? Is there a downside to these Worthian architectural choices? Why do you think he still hasn’t learned his lesson from the public outcry over the Davenport Tower? Share your thoughts in our comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in person. We love to hear from you.

10 thoughts on “Pre-Fab Deja Vu: Why can’t Walt Worthy learn from past mistakes?

  1. If pre-fab cheapness is the difference between a catalyst project getting built or not built, its 100% worth it, and it beats a parking lot. Besides, this building will be most noticeable from the north, not the west or south where people come into town.

  2. I’m delighted that Walt Worthy decided to reinvest yet again in Spokane and create another catalyst downtown that will certainly bring in more benefit from an admittedly very nice parking lot. I do wish that the sense of style and detail that the Worthy’s have brought to the interior of their hotels appeared on the exterior of this property. The well executed but oddly themed Davenport Tower can rely on the magnificence and prestige of its catercorner neighbor but the convention center property will have to stand on its own to bring in guests and build its own identity. It it ends up appearing like just another Double Tree alternative, then I think a great opportunity to impress another landmark building in downtown Spokane will have been lost.

  3. Spokane seems to always settle for “its good enough” or “it’s better than a a parking lot.” However, this building will be there for a very long time and it is from what Spokane deserves. Residents need to stop expecting sub par design and start demanding excellence. Adding simple design elements DO NOT BREAK THE BANK. Developers will scream to the high heaven that they do, but they are flat lying. The City of Spokane design standards are suggestions, they are not requirements – just more proof that Spokane lacks the backbone to turn vision into reality. This project makes me sad, not excited for the future.

  4. Has Walt Worthy ever commented on the criticism of the Davenport Tower? All Spokane needs is one strategically placed landmark building to take the eye away from the dullness of our current skyline. The opportunity for mixed use condo/apartment towers downtown (near the Riverfalls Tower, and East Main) seems to be our last hope.

  5. Let’s not forget Worthy is responsible for the mirrored mess on the rocks with the *water feature*, North Washington and Boone, that goes back to sometime in the late ’80’s. Bad taste, bad design. We had a friend visiting from out of town — when he spotted this ‘creation’ he almost had a rear-ender.

    This is another opportunity lost I’d say. Really too bad. Maybe landscaping can mitigate. Very large pots of flowers as distraction? Great sign design might help. The Davenport Tower is a total loser as far as the streetscape. Looks like a repeat.

  6. All the talk about a “landmark” building neglects to take into account pedestrian activation, which is my real concern with this hotel. Portland, OR has no landmark skyline of any note yet terrific urban amenities, which is where the focus should (and around here doesn’t) usually lie

    • Well, what about pedestrian activation along Main? I expect most of the pedestrian impact will be on Spokane Falls, because of the meeting rooms on Main. Click on the tag for the Convention Center Hotel for a discussion I posted about this issue a few weeks ago.

  7. I have! I thought it looked interesting. I’m hopeful at the very least. They seem to have a real desire to restore the historic building to its former glory, so at the very least it should be a great project for the West End of downtown.

  8. Looks like the Davenport Tower on it’s side to me in all it’s glory. I hope when I return to Spokane someday it is not riddled with 1980’s era Communist settlement buildings dominating it’s infrastructure. I appreciate the Worthy’s commitment to contributing to Spokane however, let this be the last of the pre-fab and let’s get something modern that is appealing.


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