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Mudd
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Sy, further to your point #1, what truck size WOULD work on 9th? If that is the best area for loading, just make it happen. If Target really wants to be there, that probably won't stop them even though they might at first say it would. (Unless you can only fit a Honda Civic on that side, then I would see their point.)
It seems that the urban design issues and the historic concerns align fairly well with this project. Traditionally, the big box folks are quite poor at providing street presence. (I think that Target is one of the better ones, though.) I hope Art and the rest of the commission don't budge on this at all. While it would be great to have Target there, we need to remember that these design decisions will last 20 plus years, at least the length of their lease. Sure, they may restore some things but it cannot come at the cost of really screwing up the corner.
I'm not so offended by the brick wrap if I am reading the drawing correctly. It looks like it turns back to the side up to a point at which the building steps back off of the interior property line. This step back in the building is presumably done to allow for the windows to be off the property line; the wouldn't be allowed if on the line. If true, at least this change in material happens in a way that responds in some real way to the form of the building. One thing that I would like to see is a better effort to relate this building with its adjacent neighbors in the upper floors. Currently, they are completely in the scale of openings and any datum lines followed. Finally, what about the preservation of this building? It seems that this building, while not in a historic district, is exactly what others on this blog deem as the type of thing that ought to be preserved, if not for preservation sake then for the sake of sustainability. I'm not so sure myself but thought I would bring it up. Hell, I think Satyricon should be saved as a cultural centerpoint of the city first and foremost. Certainly, this place has been important to the City of Portland, right?
The folks over at SERA are no doubt some of the best equipped folks to deal with the conflicting goals of non-profit (cost effective) design and historic (and green) concerns. Their team has repeatedly proven that good design can solve both sides of the problem. Blanchet House was wise to chose them. Potentially my biggest concern about this project is not really about the specific building but rather how we are designing our cities, particularly with such a dense clustering of social service activities in this particular district. While it is very nice to see good design winning its share of the effort (at Broadway/Glisan, at Broadway/Burnside and now here), it seems that these projects will solidify the fact that this neighborhood will bear the brunt of this burden for the city for at least another 50 years. Common sense says that the need for these services is alway greater in a city's core, but I really feel that other areas should pitch in more.
Ted, you miss my point entirely. I don't know whether or not these buildings are significant. Neither do you, I assume. (If wrong, please correct me.) The only thing anyone has written is that they are old or somehow uniquely representative. There have been no statements describing in any meaningful way what the pedigree is of any of the buildings in question. My problem with much of this article and the associated comments has been with several finite statements assuming the worst intentions, absent of any actual facts. My feeling is that this sort of attitude only serves to further alienate the historic preservation initiative. As far as the way architects are "trained", I'm sad you feel that we cannot look critically at these types of issues. Perhaps the most troubling thing to you is that we CAN look critically at it and still not agree with you.
Your statement "...the first step toward a feasible rehab is having a property owner/developer/architect with an interest in considering such a rehab." implies that this developer was not open. Unless you can back that up, you should not spout it. The statement is alarmist and unhelpful. As far as there being some obligation of the developer to inform the public, perhaps you need to be reminded that they are not public projects and the developer is not beholden to that sort of process, beyond the (current) design review process. Suggesting that all developers jump through a ton more hoops for this sort of stuff when there is no real evidence that there is even an issue is naive about the way business is done. As an architect interested in getting (good) things done, I'd hate to create such a system of hoops where there are so many angles that can stop or hold a project up. I think of certain projects that I have worked on where nimby-ism is running rampant. Giving folks one more way to obstruct only seems to ultimately keep good things from happening. This all feels like the Tea Party. Raise a red flag, get everybody up in arms and get people talking. Even though there is perhaps no actual issue here. Just because the developer didn't offer any evidence to any particular historians (that you know of) doesn't mean that it wasn't considered. Your comments above generally assume the worst in absence of any actual facts. That, my friend, is wrong. Actually, I greatly value preservation. You're missing the entire point. I really feel that this hurts the cause of preservation. This entire dialog on these two particular projects (in my opinion) just serves to water down the concerns of preservation. Neither are really contributing structures in any way that preservation is actually intended. (Perhaps I am wrong. If so, educate me. So far, it seems that it is only assumed because of their age or "coolness".) Perhaps the first real step is to do that meaningful audit that you referred to. Making finite statements on a particular project void of any real evidence won't help. Obviously, this is all a double edged sword. Perhaps design review should be expanded to really review this sort of stuff early on...after the city creates that audit and new list, of course. Again, I am not against preservation. In fact, I have worked on a few historic projects myself. I just don't like alarmist, unfounded statements of any sort. In this case, it really doesn't feel like there is a preservation issue here. Design issue...most certainly.
While I can certainly agree with you that the design review process can be enhanced to prevent replacing a good building with a bad building, I take offense by anyone unfamiliar with the full details of a project making some sort of assertion on what is "completely feasible". This, again, is another reason why preservation isn't taken more seriously. Baseless bold statements from the fundamentally uninformed will never further the cause.
FWIW, I actually like the Galaxy building a lot. Architecturally, it is very nice. It a shame that it'll come down and be replaced with something so hideous. I just don't think this is a case that falls under the realm of historic preservation.
Come on, Brian. You can't seriously claim that a prototypical 60's Denny's is somehow supremely representative of a type of architecture moreso than, let's say, the one down the street. Really? In my mind, this is precisely why historic preservation isn't taken more seriously. Many preservationists feel that you must fight every battle, regardless of merit, just to elevate the overall position. Many people just see that as obstructionism, taking away from the overall (important) message. As a person also interested in preserving our heritage, I feel it is important to advocate for the preservation of the best, most representative, and significant properties. If not, you'll fail make any real progress.
I had a friend that several years ago, lived at the apartment building. I went to visit her several times there. While the place certainly had (still has?) character, it has always looked to me that the building is in supremely poor shape. Back then, it had some big old columns holding up some very scary balconies. (Might I die going out there to enjoy a smoke with my friend??) I would think that it ultimately became a huge liability and they had to partly demolish it. While I get the iconic argument for the Galaxy, it is silly to say that it should be saved just because of this. It is not unique in any way. In fact, just go down the street and you'll see another just like it. When did prototype architecture become precious? Sure, it may be the first in the metro area but for heaven's sake the design was rubber stamped in Southern California. It means nothing in its current location. (Nor, for that matter, does the fugly suburban replacement building. Yikes...) Just because something is old, does not make it automatically good. After all, there were bad architects back then as well. Not everything must be preserved at the expense of financial common sense.
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Feb 2, 2011