GRDadof3

Two new residential projects for East Hills

92 posts in this topic


GRDad, I'm going to go out on a limb here that no one is going to like, including myself.  Personally, I think the buildings are sort of interesting.  However, given the environment in which it is proposed to be built, it should meet with swift rejection by the HPC.  It does not meet the compatibility requirements for an historic district.  The old version of NPS Preservation Brief 14 and related guidance might have given something like this a fighting chance.  30 years later, the Modernist buildings and additions that were constructed in many historic districts look awful and out of place.  Recognizing the error, and that America's historic districts ought not look absurd and incongruous, the thinking has changed, along with Brief 14 a few years ago. 

 

Buildings must be compatible.  No more discordant buildings, as proposed here. The materials are not compatible, the forms (which have no clearly defined base, middle, and top as most all historic architecture did) don't fit, and the fenestration plan has no relationship to historical architecture.  It isn't as bad as an Electric Cheetah  or Lott3Metz redux, but it is still an offense to historic architecture and has no business being built in an historic district.  Hopefully, the HPC is up to speed on the developments in acceptable architecture.

 

Granted, the updates to what is acceptable and what is not are recent, even though the compatibility standard is old.  The tagged article below helped set it into motion, and redefine "compatible" to "it ought to look like it actually fits in".  The revisions to Brief 14 happened about 2-3 years ago.  So, do I forgive the architect for botching it?  Maybe a little.  If the HPC screws it up and approved this, though, they will have failed.

 

Still, I would hate the see the project die on the vine as much as I would hate to see the Standards be derogated by approval of the project.  Two possible solutions:  1)  Remove these parcels from the District, which is too big, allow demolition of the dilapidated and arguably non-contributing (formerly Italianate) building at Cherry and Eastern, and then allow the project to move forward.  That's a high hurdle, though.  Or, #2, redesign this into something that is actually compatible. Personally, I prefer the latter, and I suspect they may already have a second set of drawing knowing that this was not likely to fly.

 

References, for anyone interested:

http://traditional-b...m_labine/?p=677

http://www.heritageh...new-structures/

http://www.nps.gov/t...r-additions.htm

http://www.tradition...yFeature09.html  <--The response to this Article was to "fix" PB14, directly above

http://www.preservat...Place_final.pdf

http://www.nps.gov/tps/documents/RevisingPB14.pdf

Edited by x99

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x99, I’m sure you are right about the legality of it and I’m not sure I care for the design either, but what I like about this particular neighborhood along Cherry is the hodgepodge of styles from different eras from mid nineteenth century to mid-20th century modern.  Even next door in Heritage Hill everything is not frozen in the nineteenth century and I like that.

 

So what would it need to be compatible with?  

 

The mid-century modern former IBM building in view on the opposite corner;- 

 

https:[email protected],-85.649371,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1swzEGy6_p_8isT5ZAr36qJA!2e0?hl=en

 

or maybe one of the old apartment buildings across the street;

 

https:[email protected],-85.649359,3a,75y,90h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sWm5axS9JnC8midbeQ5OC1Q!2e0?hl=en

 

My own feeling is that as long as the scale is reasonable and it is of good quality and it’s not too suburban looking, it should be OK.  But that’s just me and I have no standing.

 

EDIT: I didn't bother reading x99's reference links before posting my spur of the moment comments.  Now I have.  Interesting stuff in the links, obviously a lot of people have spent more time thinking about this and have thought deeper about it than I have.  My thoughts haven't changed though.   

Edited by walker

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I agree with walker - rather than trying to copy styles of the past, let them build something that looks contemporary. Of course, make sure that it meets certain design and materials standards, but that should be the case anywhere - not just in historic districts.

 

IMHO, historic preservation should be about preserving the past - not trying to recreate it. I'd rather see a neighborhood show the history of its development through various styles, rather than making everything bland to try to "fit in." Besides, unless they really use historic materials - wood windows (with real muntins - not the snap-in "dividers"), wood/brick/stone/stucco exterior (no vinyl [or even fiber cement]), etc. - they will look like cheap imitations of the real thing.

 

I agree with x99's assessment of Modernist buildings - but they look ugly in every context, IMHO.

 

I also can't make any claims on the legal issues - just my personal opinions.

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The good news is that the NPS guidelines are exactly that.  guidelines are open to interpretation and do not need to be adhered to but rather represent a recommended course of action that could be over-ridden by good judgment.  the problem that exists is that different people have vastly different interpretations of the guidelines and how strictly they should be adhered to.  I found it especially interesting that in the Brief 14 that some additions were found to be not compatible while others were OK when, to my eye (admittedly untrained), they looked to impact the original structure in a similar way.  When the answer from reading the brief isn't clear, then the interpretation by the local HPC, similarly to a game of telephone, will be impossible to predict.

 

I do like the proposal but to protect the scale, which is the one thing that is easy to interpret, the buildings should probably be restricted to 2 1/2 stories. they otherwise look urban and are sufficiently oriented to the street which is one (among others) of the defining characteristics between newer suburban neighborhoods and historical urban neighborhoods.

 

My personal opinion on additions is that compatibility is the most important thing when considering an addition.  It could be modern, historical, or something in between and there isn't one thing that creates a compatible appearance. It could be materials, scale, style, whatever.  What you want to avoid is something like what Karl Chew did to that church or the Soldier Field addition in Chicago.  

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GRDad, I'm going to go out on a limb here that no one is going to like, including myself.  Personally, I think the buildings are sort of interesting.  However, given the environment in which it is proposed to be built, it should meet with swift rejection by the HPC.  It does not meet the compatibility requirements for an historic district.  The old version of NPS Preservation Brief 14 and related guidance might have given something like this a fighting chance.  30 years later, the Modernist buildings and additions that were constructed in many historic districts look awful and out of place.  Recognizing the error, and that America's historic districts ought not look absurd and incongruous, the thinking has changed, along with Brief 14 a few years ago. 

 

Buildings must be compatible.  No more discordant buildings, as proposed here. The materials are not compatible, the forms (which have no clearly defined base, middle, and top as most all historic architecture did) don't fit, and the fenestration plan has no relationship to historical architecture.  It isn't as bad as an Electric Cheetah  or Lott3Metz redux, but it is still an offense to historic architecture and has no business being built in an historic district.  Hopefully, the HPC is up to speed on the developments in acceptable architecture.

 

Granted, the updates to what is acceptable and what is not are recent, even though the compatibility standard is old.  The tagged article below helped set it into motion, and redefine "compatible" to "it ought to look like it actually fits in".  The revisions to Brief 14 happened about 2-3 years ago.  So, do I forgive the architect for botching it?  Maybe a little.  If the HPC screws it up and approved this, though, they will have failed.

 

Still, I would hate the see the project die on the vine as much as I would hate to see the Standards be derogated by approval of the project.  Two possible solutions:  1)  Remove these parcels from the District, which is too big, allow demolition of the dilapidated and arguably non-contributing (formerly Italianate) building at Cherry and Eastern, and then allow the project to move forward.  That's a high hurdle, though.  Or, #2, redesign this into something that is actually compatible. Personally, I prefer the latter, and I suspect they may already have a second set of drawing knowing that this was not likely to fly.

 

References, for anyone interested:

http://traditional-b...m_labine/?p=677

http://www.heritageh...new-structures/

http://www.nps.gov/t...r-additions.htm

http://www.tradition...yFeature09.html  <--The response to this Article was to "fix" PB14, directly above

http://www.preservat...Place_final.pdf

http://www.nps.gov/tps/documents/RevisingPB14.pdf

 

Actually quite the contrary. From some of the discussions I've had with people at the city and with HPC, they're not against modernist styled buildings at all (or 38 Commerce never would have been approved). It also sounds like most of the people at EHCN already saw these preliminary plans and are excited about them.

 

It's not the "type" of architecture so much as the massing, scale, how it addresses the sidewalk and street, and exterior materials being of high quality that they are more concerned about. And not tearing down the ugly yellow house on the corner. :)

 

Here are the city of GR's HPC guidelines:

 

http://grcity.us/design-and-development-services/Planning-Department/Documents/6572_HPC%20Guidelines%20Book.pdf

 

I personally would rather see something contemporary than "fake old" like the townhouses behind ICCF. Those townhouses are fine, they just look cartoonish to me. Like a Disney set. It's all so subjective though (other than exterior material requirements) that it's hard to make a call. I think it provides a diversity of styles. It's not like this historic district is puritan styled Mackinaw Island, where a modern flat would look weird. It's already filled with a plethora of building styles.

 

Not that I know everything that has gone down already, but I can't imagine Mike Corby at IA would go through all the trouble of drawing up these plans without talking to the HPC first.

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As a person that lives very, very close to this, I say they look awesome!

 

We have more than enough "historic" buildings in the area if someone wants to play like it's old-timey days. This is new territory and ought to get something with a sharp new look, especially seeing that it is at the gateway to the Cherry business district. Some single-family faux Edwardian knock-off house is a waste. This area needs to use the empty spaces left to pack some people in. I would even venture to say that some of the homes on that side of Eastern need to get the wrecking ball and more stuff like this put in. the whole historic district thing was more to put a boot in the rear of people that had let the area go and force the properties to be kept to a good standard rather than a desire to make everything built after look like it was from 1910.

 

I totally agree with GRDad about the townhouses. They work good enough, but they dont pop like this will.

 

I just cant get enough of looking at these! They have a real big city urban feel to them, and wont be on the market for more than 6 minutes.

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Not that I know everything that has gone down already, but I can't imagine Mike Corby at IA would go through all the trouble of drawing up these plans without talking to the HPC first.

 

Hence my caveat that GR needs to get with the program--often, they have not, and they have approved things that are different, but not compatible.  Compatibility clearly means more than just having generally appropriate massing, height, and setbacks according to revised PB14.  Call Visbeen if Integrated can't hack it (although I suspect they can), or any number of architects who have crafted the high end stuff in Manchester Hills.  Why are there better interpretations of compatible "modern classical" architecture in Cascade than in our historic districts? 

 

So far as 38 Commerce and the townhouses... part of the problem.  We haven't maintained a standard appropriately.  One is in incompatible glass thingajig, and the other an exercise in monotony and redundancy with little relation to surrounding architecture other than peaked roofs.  Neither one of those projects shows any familiarity with the language of the surrounding classical architecture. Once you identify an historic district, you are supposed to follow the NPS standards and guidelines.  That's what irritates me--this is about setting precedent and maintaining and building an appropriate standard, not whether this would be a good addition.  Approve this, and then who is to say they could not build this glass monstrosity across from a house in Heritage Hill house since, well, anything goes? The best solution is to axe the excessive historic districts.  I would have absolutely no problem supporting that, and then seeing these buildings go up exactly as designed.

Edited by x99

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Hence my caveat that GR needs to get with the program--often, they have not, and they have approved things that are different, but not compatible.  Compatibility clearly means more than just having generally appropriate massing, height, and setbacks according to revised PB14.  Call Visbeen if Integrated can't hack it (although I suspect they can), or any number of architects who have crafted the high end stuff in Manchester Hills.  Why are there better interpretations of compatible "modern classical" architecture in Cascade than in our historic districts? 

 

So far as 38 Commerce and the townhouses... part of the problem.  We haven't maintained a standard appropriately.  One is in incompatible glass thingajig, and the other an exercise in monotony and redundancy with little relation to surrounding architecture other than peaked roofs.  Neither one of those projects shows any familiarity with the language of the surrounding classical architecture. Once you identify an historic district, you are supposed to follow the NPS standards and guidelines.  That's what irritates me--this is about setting precedent and maintaining and building an appropriate standard, not whether this would be a good addition.  Approve this, and then who is to say they could not build this glass monstrosity across from a house in Heritage Hill house since, well, anything goes? The best solution is to axe the excessive historic districts.  I would have absolutely no problem supporting that, and then seeing these buildings go up exactly as designed.

 

 

 

I don't necessarily think Visbeen's work is universally liked. Just because something had a pricetag of $1 Million doesn't mean it's noteworthy. :) And it's tremendously wasteful architecture that only the "elite" can afford. You could probably build some beefed up architectural gems for that corner but not only would very few people be able to afford it, you'd be pricing them way too high for that neighborhood. Most of the homes nearby don't even get up to $150,000.

 

Your last comment doesn't make any sense. Get rid of historic districts and you'd be OK with this kind of architecture? Aren't you agreeing with the letter of the law and not the principle? Heritage Hill has what, hundreds of architecture styles? I say bring it!

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Your last comment doesn't make any sense. Get rid of historic districts and you'd be OK with this kind of architecture? Aren't you agreeing with the letter of the law and not the principle? Heritage Hill has what, hundreds of architecture styles? I say bring it!

 

Correct--I would be OK with it if the historic district did not exist.  The period of significance for these districts (it bridges two) is not modernism.  Areas that are not historic districts do not need to meet a standard which hinges on architectural compatibility with the surrounding buildings.  Contrast can be  nice, and interesting, but under the rules that apply, it is not appropriate. Whether these rules ought to exist in a particular area is a separate matter.  I have argued against overuse and misapplication of historic districts in the past, and this is a perfect example of the potential consequences.  Now, do I have confidence that the HPC will actually follow the rules?  Not at all.

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I walk through that lot almost daily on my trek to work and have caught myself countless times wondering why it was still an empty lot. Hopefully if this project takes off it'll strengthen the push to overhaul Cherry Park. It's modern but not overkill, and guidelines or not the term modern will forever be evolving. 10 years from now the definition of what is modern might look 500x more frightening than these rendering. 

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I walk through that lot almost daily on my trek to work and have caught myself countless times wondering why it was still an empty lot. Hopefully if this project takes off it'll strengthen the push to overhaul Cherry Park. It's modern but not overkill, and guidelines or not the term modern will forever be evolving. 10 years from now the definition of what is modern might look 500x more frightening than these rendering. 

 

It was a "seemingly" empty lot because the entire corner was owned by Project Rehab, both on the Eastern side and on the Cherry St side of the yellow house. Project Rehab also owned the brick building on the other corner that is proposed as 17 condos. The ugly yeller house on the corner was used by Project Rehab to house its maintenance staff. I've never been in it but if it's anything like the exterior, it will need a lot of work.

 

Project Rehab lost its funding so the properties were put on the market.

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. . . The ugly yeller house on the corner was used by Project Rehab to house its maintenance staff. I've never been in it but if it's anything like the exterior, it will need a lot of work.

I was in it once.  Believe it or not, before the house belonged to Project Rehab, it was the offices of an architectural firm.  I’m pretty sure the firm was Hornbach, Steenwyk & Thrall.  They are probably best remembered for designing the infamous Dixie Square Mall – although I don’t think they can be blamed at all for the mall’s downfall (Google it if you are not familiar with it.)  The house wasn't "ugly yeller" then, it was some dark color, I think gray or green. 

 

I was in the house when a class I was taking was given a presentation by one of the architects (I think it was Thrall) about garden cities.  The interior was OK then as best as I can remember but that was over forty years ago so likely the interior might be different now.  

 

I wonder if the connection to The Dixie Square Mall makes the house historic?

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Yikes. Dixie Square Mall. That mall truly did "have everything" and it was really scary after they shot the movie there. 

 

From what I've read, anyways. It is gone now, I hear.

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I was in it once.  Believe it or not, before the house belonged to Project Rehab, it was the offices of an architectural firm.  I’m pretty sure the firm was Hornbach, Steenwyk & Thrall.  They are probably best remembered for designing the infamous Dixie Square Mall – although I don’t think they can be blamed at all for the mall’s downfall (Google it if you are not familiar with it.)  The house wasn't "ugly yeller" then, it was some dark color, I think gray or green. 

 

I was in the house when a class I was taking was given a presentation by one of the architects (I think it was Thrall) about garden cities.  The interior was OK then as best as I can remember but that was over forty years ago so likely the interior might be different now.  

 

I wonder if the connection to The Dixie Square Mall makes the house historic?

 

 

Yikes. There's a mall like that in one of Toledo's suburbs, just off 280 as you're heading toward Cedar Point. Completely vacant, including all of the outbuilding stores and even buildings across the street. Like a zombie movie. I did notice this summer they are finally tearing it down.

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Buildings must be compatible.  No more discordant buildings, as proposed here. The materials are not compatible, the forms (which have no clearly defined base, middle, and top as most all historic architecture did) don't fit, and the fenestration plan has no relationship to historical architecture.  It isn't as bad as an Electric Cheetah  or Lott3Metz redux, but it is still an offense to historic architecture and has no business being built in an historic district.  Hopefully, the HPC is up to speed on the developments in acceptable architecture.

 

'...offense to historic architecture...' 

 

That's some funny crap, right there...

 

Happy I could help set the bar.

Edited by Ted
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'...offense to historic architecture...' 

 

That's some funny crap, right there...

 

Happy I could help set the bar.

 

Hey, a spade's a spade, Ted.  I never said either was bad architecture or did not fit with what the area could be--they just don't fit in a district designated as "historic" which this one is, for better or worse.  Other than being two stories and built at the required building line, your building on Diamond has no sense or architectural compatibility with the surrounding buildings.  There were a lot of questions why they approved it, and a lot of people were not happy about it.  But that was nearly a decade ago, when guidance was, in your own words, "vague".  That has changed, in large part as a response to architects like yourself who kept putting these glass and metal cubes in historic districts simply because you could get away with it...  Now, these guys are taking a flyer at it again. 

 

Remind me again what the point is in designating a historic district if architects can propose virtually anything and get away with it? 

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I've always assumed that the point of historic districts is to preserve the structures and historic fabric - not to recreate them. Am I completely off-base?

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It cant be to recreate them because no one could afford to.

 

The reason why, outside of Heritage Hill, as to why this one even exists was more due to the decrepit state of the neighborhood years ago, and it was likely the only thing that could be done to stabilize the condition of the homes and perhaps make it a little too hard for absentee landlords and neglectful property owners from doing any more damage. As far as anyone knows, these homes were not facing demolition like the ones further east for some urban renewal project.

 

The homes around here are old for certain, but they certainly aren't "historic" outside of the fact that they are old. You can easily find homes built around the same time in other parts of the city. And certainly preserving the historic fabric would be another one of those things that was never in danger and certainly nothing that needed immediate protecting from an immediate threat.

 

But as I said before, we dont need more old-looking new buildings, we need to show that this area can have a mix so that people dont just think this is just a xerox of Heritage Hill. That it has a bit more energy and more openness to new building styles. The house near Diamond and Wealthy can not possibly be hated for somehow screwing up some historical character of the area when it sits next to a non-historical parking lot and its neighbors are fairly shabby-looking homes in comparison. It has always been one of my favorite homes in GR. We could use 20 more around here. They certainly helped the view.

 

We can have an historic district and new architecture. It happens all over the world!

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Hey, a spade's a spade, Ted.  I never said either was bad architecture or did not fit with what the area could be--they just don't fit in a district designated as "historic" which this one is, for better or worse.  Other than being two stories and built at the required building line, your building on Diamond has no sense or architectural compatibility with the surrounding buildings.  There were a lot of questions why they approved it, and a lot of people were not happy about it.  But that was nearly a decade ago, when guidance was, in your own words, "vague".  That has changed, in large part as a response to architects like yourself who kept putting these glass and metal cubes in historic districts simply because you could get away with it...  Now, these guys are taking a flyer at it again. 

 

Remind me again what the point is in designating a historic district if architects can propose virtually anything and get away with it.

 

It's cool that you don't like that house. I bet I don't like your house, either. 

 

With regards to the Department of Interior Standards and the changes you refer to: there haven't been any. Each community has wide latitude to interpret the Standards as they see fit. What is good for our community may not be good for another. And each community has wide latitude to decide what is good on a site by site basis. What is good for Heritage Hill is not the same as what it good for Fairmount Square. That's the way it has always been with historic districts. For better and for worse.

 

The links you reference are either opinion pieces in magazines with clear bias, paid consultant studies for communities, and/or discussion of additions to existing buildings. None of them are relevant. None of them are laws or binding to our community and our HPC.

 

If you think that we've got it all wrong and projects like this should be stopped, then I think you should engage in the process and make your case. Serve on your neighborhood association. Volunteer for the GRHPC.

 

I've always assumed that the point of historic districts is to preserve the structures and historic fabric - not to recreate them. Am I completely off-base?

 

Right on. 

 

@GRDadof3 this has gone way off topic. I'll stop here. If anyone would like to continue the discussion over drinks, I'll buy first round.

Edited by Ted

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Europeans (who have much more historic architecture) and Americans deviate dramatically on what constitutes appropriateness within historic districts. Within the last 20 years, European cities have tended to push new buildings that fit the massing and setbacks of the district, but allow for modern architecture to accentuate their historic brethren. 

 

Americans, of course, have maintained that new buildings should fit the general style, materials, etc of the existing building stock within the historic district. Some cities are beginning to adapt more of an European attitude recognizing that new old will never be as good as old old. Some have taken a more compromise route that allows for historic materials but with modern accents (think the Reserve wine bar downtown). 

 

Too me, I would rather see East Hills maintain design requirements that govern materials, massing, transparency, setbacks, etc, but not necessarily require historic architectural design.

Edited by Jippy

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It's cool that you don't like that house. I bet I don't like your house, either. 

 

With regards to the Department of Interior Standards and the changes you refer to: there haven't been any. Each community has wide latitude to interpret the Standards as they see fit. What is good for our community may not be good for another. And each community has wide latitude to decide what is good on a site by site basis. What is good for Heritage Hill is not the same as what it good for Fairmount Square. That's the way it has always been with historic districts. For better and for worse.

 

@GRDadof3 this has gone way off topic. I'll stop here. If anyone would like to continue the discussion over drinks, I'll buy first round.

 

Ted -- First, I never said I didn't like the building you designed or the proposed design here.  Quite the opposite.  Secondly, I don't see this as being off topic, since this  discussion is directly relevant to whether this building can or should be built as proposed. 

 

Is this a great project for the area?  Sure, if it wasn't in a designated historic district.  Frankly, I agree with GR_Urbanist this this district was a stupid tax ploy that had little to do with architectural merit.  I think the designation should be dropped.  BUT, to me, it still matters as a concern with setting precedent.  Since this is in a historic district where the relevant period is traditional architecture, and this project disregards that, what is to stop a similar project across the street from my house if this is approved?  The fact that it's a "real" historic district and this one isn't? 

 

Regarding your point about changes in the Standards--no, they haven't changed.  Because the NPS decided that didn't need to.  What they decided was that the guidance on interpretation needed to change because a strong bias had developed in favor of projects that contrasted dramatically with the surrounding historic districts under the guise that projects needed to be "distinct".  Modernist architects were snowballing and sucker-punching historic boards across the country.  "Compatible" was reduced to an empty term--two stories and sitting on the building line?  Good enough.  The problem got so bad that many locals thought projects had to be dramatically contrasting.  NPS tried to clean up the problem with the revisions to Brief 14 within the last two to three years.  Have you done a thorough review of the new guidance and the rationale (not the Standards--the guidance)?  The heyday of the incompatible modernist project is over.  Many architects and local boards have not gotten the messages.  Modernists like yourself, in particular, seem to hate the message. Can you even begin to image the backlash if some bonehead proposed an Italianate design in a Modernist or MCM designated district?  C'mon.  It would never happen.  It's the opposite situation Brief 14 was designed to correct--modernist projects in traditional districts. 

 

Still, my preferred solution is to get rid of the historic district which serves no good purpose in the first place.  I don't think anyone in East Hills cares about it anyway.  No one buys into the area because of its historical significance--it's minimal, at best.  Perhaps a few individually designated properties might make sense, but that's about it.  But until that happens, architects need to stop trying to slide this stuff by.  Aesthetically, is there any difference in the end product versus removing the rules or ignoring them?  No.  But my neighborhood has the same set of rules, enforced by the same group of people, and I really don't care for some modernist architect or hipster with cash coming in and building some modern contraption across the street from me.  That's bad precedent.  Get rid of the designation for East Hills and I couldn't care less.  Build it all day long.

Edited by x99

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Ted -- First, I never said I didn't like the building you designed or the proposed design here.  Quite the opposite.  Secondly, I don't see this as being off topic, since this  discussion is directly relevant to whether this building can or should be built as proposed. 

 

Is this a great project for the area?  Sure, if it wasn't in a designated historic district.  Frankly, I agree with GR_Urbanist this this district was a stupid tax ploy that had little to do with architectural merit.  I think the designation should be dropped.  BUT, to me, it still matters as a concern with setting precedent.  Since this is in a historic district where the relevant period is traditional architecture, and this project disregards that, what is to stop a similar project across the street from my house if this is approved?  The fact that it's a "real" historic district and this one isn't? 

 

Regarding your point about changes in the Standards--no, they haven't changed.  Because the NPS decided that didn't need to.  What they decided was that the guidance on interpretation needed to change because a strong bias had developed in favor of projects that contrasted dramatically with the surrounding historic districts under the guise that projects needed to be "distinct".  Modernist architects were snowballing and sucker-punching historic boards across the country.  "Compatible" was reduced to an empty term--two stories and sitting on the building line?  Good enough.  The problem got so bad that many locals thought projects had to be dramatically contrasting.  NPS tried to clean up the problem with the revisions to Brief 14 within the last two to three years.  Have you done a thorough review of the new guidance and the rationale (not the Standards--the guidance)?  The heyday of the incompatible modernist project is over.  Many architects and local boards have not gotten the messages.  Modernists like yourself, in particular, seem to hate the message. Can you even begin to image the backlash if some bonehead proposed an Italianate design in a Modernist or MCM designated district?  C'mon.  It would never happen.  It's the opposite situation Brief 14 was designed to correct--modernist projects in traditional districts. 

 

Still, my preferred solution is to get rid of the historic district which serves no good purpose in the first place.  I don't think anyone in East Hills cares about it anyway.  No one buys into the area because of its historical significance--it's minimal, at best.  Perhaps a few individually designated properties might make sense, but that's about it.  But until that happens, architects need to stop trying to slide this stuff by.  Aesthetically, is there any difference in the end product versus removing the rules or ignoring them?  No.  But my neighborhood has the same set of rules, enforced by the same group of people, and I really don't care for some modernist architect or hipster with cash coming in and building some modern contraption across the street from me.  That's bad precedent.  Get rid of the designation for East Hills and I couldn't care less.  Build it all day long.

 

Well if you talk to the people who are historical buffs, they would tell you that at least having the historic district there has saved quite a few structures from being torn down. I even think the ugly yellow house should be torn down, even if it had new siding on it. It has totally lost context with the whole block because the houses next to it are gone (or have been gone for a long time).

 

I know quite a few people who would love to go into East Hills and do some tear downs and infill. Many of those new homes would look like they were "pretending" to be historic, but would lack a lot of the finer details because it's TOO EXPENSIVE. So which is worse, modernists coming in and putting in a building here and there? Or tear downs and small mcmansions being built in that neighborhood? You pick your "poison" I guess.

 

AT LEAST this project has a reputable architect who is drawing it up, instead of some kid at the GC with a CAD program doing it.

 

I don't necessarily think this is entirely off topic, since we're discussing the proposed design of this new project.

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 I even think the ugly yellow house should be torn down, even if it had new siding on it. It has totally lost context with the whole block because the houses next to it are gone (or have been gone for a long time).

 

 

I hope we don't start tearing down buildings because the ones next to it have been torn down.  That's horrible reasoning.  That house has context with the historic neighborhood that it resides in.  The project that we discussing will take the place of the buildings that were torn down, once again making this yellow house more integrated with its surroundings instead of an island.

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I know quite a few people who would love to go into East Hills and do some tear downs and infill. Many of those new homes would look like they were "pretending" to be historic, but would lack a lot of the finer details because it's TOO EXPENSIVE. So which is worse, modernists coming in and putting in a building here and there? Or tear downs and small mcmansions being built in that neighborhood? You pick your "poison" I guess.

 

AT LEAST this project has a reputable architect who is drawing it up, instead of some kid at the GC with a CAD program doing it.

 

I wouldn't call traditionally-inspired modern architecture "pretending" to be anything any more than I would call a modernist design a bad imitation of Bauhaus, which was around 100 year ago.  Modernism isn't really anything new.  It's simply a style which, by and large, was not and is not a part of our historic districts.  However, it is currently all the rage, while most architecture schools would like to relegate traditional architecture to the dustbin.  So you wind up with this lunacy that says modernism is compatible with everything, while traditional architecture is compatible with nothing--including itself--because then it's just a cheap "imitation" or "pretend" version. 

 

My point is that it's pretty obvious which style of buildings exist in this historic district and which do not (the relatively more modernist building kitty-corner is in another district, actually).  The fact that modern traditional architecture might not be as ornate does not make it somehow less appropriate than a design which is a stark departure from its surroundings.  Unfortunately, even if the architect here was reputable, there were trying to pull off just that.  Why?  Architects have been breaking them for decades and getting away with it.  NPS tries to fix it with new guidance, and modernist architects like Ted, predictably, howl that nothing has changed and all of those revisions mean nothing, and they should still be able to slap up whatever modernist construct they can come up with, wherever they want.  We'll see, I suppose.

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