Ugly Buildings, Are Ugly For A Reason

Ugly Buildings, Are Ugly For A Reason

There are nice looking buildings, and unfortunately ugly ones. The ramifications for creating an ugly building means that communities have to live with the results for decades. This simple fact distinguishes Architecture from other professions where a product can be used for a much shorter period of time and then discarded. Because of the financial investment in building, being careful on what you allow to be built is critical to a building’s life and community.
 
Here’s an example of a horrible developer and designer, who was probably a structural engineer or a very unskilled architect. One can just read this residential building and hear the conversation. “Keep it as cheap as possible, but lets add balconies to be a feature that will get people to purchase the units.
 
Even more critical to your neighborhood when your project is at an intersection where two sides, which have the opportunity to define the spirit of a community, are exposed to the public.
 
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So here we are, 6 don’t’s no one should impose on their building:
 
1) Balconies: Don’t add balconies to the front of a building, where the resulting impression is dark shadows and people’s junk displayed for the world to see.
 
2) Setbacks: Don’t set your building back from the street wall and leave an unsightly blank wall defining your property.
3) Silhouette: Define the top of the building with something other than a gutter, or as shown in this example.  Smaller contextual buildings should always be complete from base, body and top.
4) Facade:  Not only does this side facade have a variety of haphazard openings, but the proportions of window to wall are weak.  Not having a plan to accommodate air-conditioning is also just cheap.  White window and door frames looks cheap in the context of this brick color.
5) What’s acceptable? The brick color is acceptable and the fence style is acceptable, but the ‘stoop’ and balcony door/window combination is problematic as the door is at the corner of an interior room making the wall adjacent to the door unusable.
6) Front & Side Yard:  Paving the entire front and side yards ensures that trash, or in this case trash cans will be placed wherever, adding to that feeling of ugliness. The addition of having trash cans in front of basement windows isn’t exactly ideal, especially during summer months.  Because this front slopes down, it would have been better to have a small retaining wall with the fence horizontal, with of course a planting bed for greenery. The current ‘solution’ is hot, dusty and unfriendly.
The same budget could be used to make a nice looking building that 1) ensures the best income and 2) adds to the quality of the neighborhood which in turns secures the income that can be generated by this investment.  Instead of using a skilled company to bring this building’s design up to snuff, we are all left with a hole in the fabric of the community, where the most common response is to just not look at it in order to avoid the negative spirit it portrays so well.
Most disheartening is that ugly buildings exist because of stereotypes, the kind that makes people like those responsible for this building think that what they are doing is the best approach for success.  They are the type that think only of the most basic things they can write on a description of the building, like 2 bedroom, balcony, full bath, etc. as if the list is what defines quality when one’s eye can see it is a complete failure, except the brick color.
Look just next door, a nice facade with meaningful openings and a stoop/entrance to match.
[construction] Designing a better Urban Residential Block

[construction] Designing a better Urban Residential Block

It’s long overdue, that is, the re-design of our urban fabric.  What we have today stems from century old thinking and technology as well as the notion of building only what is required for today.   Read more

[financial] Go ahead, throw your money away! (Expensive Blunder)

What do I mean by designs that are a waste?  Well, some projects waste time, money and resources.  One can imagine a project that isn’t financially successful, has wasted resources, as the longevity and usefulness of the building will be diminished.  I’ve witnessed where a renovation is completed and in 2 years, after the tenant moves out the space is re-renovated. Materials are wasted too, in this day when there are environmental concerns, what’s the point of designing and building something that gets torn down in a couple of years? Read more

[theory] Crime and Urban Blight

[theory] Crime and Urban Blight

I’m not sure how to approach this topic, because I really don’t have any proof of what I’m about to suggest, but suffice it to say that I believe that if an urban environment, home, or any place embodies a bad vibe, that it will more likely induce criminal acts. Read more

[urban design] Is Brooklyn dead? Creating better cities.

[urban design] Is Brooklyn dead? Creating better cities.

Brooklyn, a ‘city’ onto itself. But has it really matured the way one would hope? For every decision that is made in the building of a city, those who inhabit that city can enjoy or endure the results.  Let us take a quick compare and contrast of Brooklyn in relationship to Boston’s South End.

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[architecture] Post 9•11 High-Rise Planning

[architecture] Post 9•11 High-Rise Planning

WORLD TRADE CENTER, 9-11-01 Tragedy and our Design Response.

As an Architect and Architectural Designer, I’ve been very interested in what may develop at the World Trade Center Site. Upon review of the 6 alternatives in the July 11th issue of the New York Times, it is very clear to me just who the Architectural firm was who created the schemes were catering to the Developers of the site.

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