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GRDadof3

Should the GR community have some architectural guidelines?

7 posts in this topic

AIA Grand Valley, in an article recently, is advocating for a bigger say in what constitutes good design in the community.

 

"Rather than have the professional organization sit on its hands, Swem wants to see the chapter become more vocal about what constitutes good design and set the bar for practicing architects in the region.

“When a project shows up that isn’t driven by sustainability or doesn’t fit within the community, the AIA should stand up and say, ‘This is not appropriate,’” Swem said. “We wouldn’t be out condemning projects, but the concerns … would be rooted in a language that already exists, like master planning and zoning.”

- See more at: http://mibiz.com/news/design-build/item/20854-aia-grand-rapids-eyes-realignment-becoming-stronger-voice-for-good-architecture#sthash.snlc7gdl.dpuf

 

I tend to agree that someone needs to give feedback to the local architects. There's a lot of bad design lately, and yet no one seems to be taking notice (except us here).

 

Obviously there's the question of who has the final say.

 

If you live in a newer neighborhood, there are design standards that help protect property values and make it more aesthetically pleasing. Same in an historic district. So why not in the commercially built environment?

 

Thoughts?

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No. Cities are organic colonies and their architecture should represent that.  

 

I'm not (and I don't think AIA is) suggesting common "style" principles, ie everything has to look the same. But common design principles. ie, anything in a commercial district should include some kind of masonry, or a minimum scale of window size in comparison to wall size, or similar...

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Yes. There are basic design elements that should be required, and a committee to review that a project meets those requirements:

-minimum ground floor transparency and active use

-appropriate building materials

-building articulation requirements 

-base, body, top requirements

 

 

This is not about stifling creativity, this is about ensuring that creativity is occurring and we are not a city filled with soulless engineered boxes made out of cheap materials. Said differently, the goal of the requirements would be to ensure minimum levels of design, not stifle design. Up to recently, I think Grand Rapids has had a great culture of design ethic-- a bit of self regulation. That ethic seems to have diminished recently. 

 

This topic is about more than just design -- it's about economic activity and livability.  Property values for all will increase if all design meets minimum levels of quality.

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There are guidelines and ordinances regulating things like the style and size of signage on buildings downtown.  These are in place to "balance public and private interests. The purpose of this Article is to promote a safe, well-maintained, vibrant and attractive City while accommodating the need for signs to inform, direct, identify, advertise, advocate, promote, endorse and otherwise communicate information."  I see no reason there shouldn't be something similar related to the buildings themselves. 

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This is a tough call for me.  Obviously this really isn't an equal comparison, but look at Dubai.  The reason that city boomed like it did is because the government invited architects to build tax free and without design regulations.  

 

On the other hand, our city is not exactly known for good design so I think guidelines or maybe a voting system on building designs might be a good idea too.   I think the Icon on Bond building is hideous.  It could've been so much better.  It's in a perfect location for something unique and modern to be seen from 196.  I'm not really a big fan of the new GVSU building along 131 either.  Again, another perfect location for a contemporary building.  I get the fact that they wanted the building to look like the rest of their buildings and that makes sense.  I guess I just had other ideas for what the previous building could've been.  

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This is a tough call for me.  Obviously this really isn't an equal comparison, but look at Dubai.  The reason that city boomed like it did is because the government invited architects to build tax free and without design regulations.  

 

On the other hand, our city is not exactly known for good design so I think guidelines or maybe a voting system on building designs might be a good idea too.   I think the Icon on Bond building is hideous.  It could've been so much better.  It's in a perfect location for something unique and modern to be seen from 196.  I'm not really a big fan of the new GVSU building along 131 either.  Again, another perfect location for a contemporary building.  I get the fact that they wanted the building to look like the rest of their buildings and that makes sense.  I guess I just had other ideas for what the previous building could've been.  

 

What you're talking about is style, and you really don't want a group dictating any particular style to the local talent. We're talking about design aspects, materials, things that architects are very versed in (they go to school through Masters and apprenticeship and should know this stuff). For instance, the new(er) social security administration building on Knapp near the Beltline. It already looks like it's rusting and needs to be torn down.

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