Major cities that are successful in growth and stature find a way to both honor their history and produce a vision for their future. To become and remain architecturally significant, a city needs to honor what was important in its past but also needs to create structures that will become the icons of their future.
Madison has little of its past history preserved. It would be a shame to lose one of Madison’s significant historical and architectural buildings when so few remain. It would also be a shame to see an insignificant run-of-the-mill building go up in its stead.
The problem with the proposed 18-story structure near the Alliant Center isn’t its height but its mundane design and disregard for our past. If housing is a priority, make it memorable. Find a way to integrate the new design by incorporating the Wonder Bar into the design. That doesn’t mean the new structure has to repeat the design of the past, only that it should work with it in harmony or counterpoint.
Neither of the prospects of losing the past or building mediocrity seems like a good solution to me.