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As an architect, I agree this building is shameful from all angles. As an architect who did not have to work on a big box projects until this recession hit, I now know that the architect of record has very little design control. I don't know Safeway specifically, but most corporate giants create their prototypes and, unless required by city zoning codes, do not modify them. Those wasteful and inappropriate towers are likely either pieces of the prototype or are "architectural features" added to satisfy the city. It's part of commercial branding strategies that each store would ideally look the same. In my recent experience, many zoning codes have adopted very similar language for requiring glazing, changes in height/roofline, color changes, architectural features, etc. But the prototypes have evolved with an "approved" kit of proto parts to be used to satisfy the codes. Need to break up a long wall?...add this pilaster group. Too much push from the architect of record to modify and the firm likely risks loosing the work altogether.
I took offense to the editorial describing the LAB design a "Disneyland recreation" when I first read it in the Oregonian. That's simply a ridiculous comment. The design was a thoughtful and interesting reuse of the Mill buildings. Being a Pearl resident living close to C-Mills, I attended the public gatherings leading to LAB winning the competition. The rooms were always packed and the community was ready to support their idea - and still are in spite of the economy. Of the designs presented, the LAB design was the obvious choice to truly create a uniquely Portland place - slightly quirky, not overdone and not billowing neon and the usual suspects of national chain businesses. Great projects often appear impossible, and usually take brave leadership to make them reality. I fear we just threw the baby out with the bath water.
While I like the existing building, claiming this new building is inappropriate for the neighborhood because it has basement units, building walls and unit windows right up to the sidewalk, and it pushes the lot limits at the sides is just bogus; sorry, but that IS the character of the neighborhood. The buildings right next to it are exhibits A & B. This post has little to do with the architectural appropriateness of a side entry versus a central entry and which is right here; reality: no change is welcomed here. I'm all for historic preservation, but your arguments (and those of others I read in the NW Examiner) are weak. And if Arbor Custom were your client, I suppose you'd "challenge the height restrictions" for a better result? Good luck with that one.
Toggle Commented Jan 13, 2011 on Neo historic on Flanders at Portland Architecture
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Jan 13, 2011