Is new Janesville Transit Service center a 'Taj Mahal?'

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Neil Johnson
Friday, August 15, 2014

JANESVILLE—Janesville Transit Director Dave Mumma remains sure the soon-to-be completed Janesville Transit Services Center will hit its $7.9 million budget, but he acknowledges that will be no consolation to some residents.

To some who drive by the front of the new bus garage, it's an imposing, monolithic, even extravagant symbol of city spending—the stuff of recent Gazette letters to the editor that employ such terms as “Taj Mahal.”

Mumma knows this.

In a press tour, he admitted the facility, with its 18-bus garage that alone is bigger than the former transit building, is big. He admitted the building's styled front facade might be considered the opposite of Soviet-era block construction.

As people drive by the Highway 51 side of the transit center at Black Bridge Road, people might wonder why the multicolored brick walls, arched windows and green roof line were necessary, Mumma said.

A major reason for a styled-up front was to create curb appeal for the thousands of motorists who travel Highway 51 into the city each week, he said.

“We're now putting a public facility in a very visible location on a major entrance to the city. What do we want people coming into the city to think?” Mumma said.

“We could have put up a concrete block building. Then people would have said, 'What's that? Oh, it's the bus garage? Well, holy fright. They really want to give that kind of impression?'” he said.

Neighbors who gave input to a building committee for the project made it clear over a 10-year span they didn't want a squat, institutional-looking building across the highway from them, Mumma said.

“They were very clear. They didn't want us to build an ugly building across from their neighborhood. That all played into the design philosophy behind the building," Mumma said.

The green trim, arched windows and multicolored brick on the looming front of the building were designed to match colors and designs the transit service used on its downtown transfer station, he said.

Consider it “branding” for the transit service, he said.

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