asthasr

Learning from Other Places

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I go to Minneapolis quite often. By far, it has much more bustling street life and activity than Charlotte, including during the winter.  People love cold in Minnesota, and unless it's well below zero, people are often still walking about downtown during winter.  Minneapolis has a very exciting and vibrant city center.

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I thought I'd write a post about what I like in residential architecture. Of course, this is an area of debate, but let's have that discussion!

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The Interlace, Singapore

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DUO Singapore

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Living Levels, Berlin

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New'R, Nantes

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The One, Hangzhou

Now, there are a lot of things that you can say about these buildings. Some (all?) you might find ugly; but one thing they're not is boring. Right now, Charlotte is getting nothing but stick-built suburban-looking apartments wrapped around massive parking decks, and it's a disservice to our city. We're constantly rated as one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, and have thousands of units being built at any given moment: why, then, can't we get a single building as interesting as any of these? Even if half the people who see it hate it, it's born out of a dislike for the style rather than a dislike for an out-of-scale mess like Stonewall Station. Yes, I appreciate that we're densifying and getting these mixed use developments at all; but wouldn't it be great to see a square flanked by three buildings like The One there, or New'R rising in South End?

Edit: As a note, you'll find that most of these buildings have uninteresting bases. This is a weakness in contemporary architecture, to my mind, but in most of these places it works better than you might expect. Fundamentally, the places that build these types of building have functional mass transit, so you can walk out of your building and hop on a bus (or go downstairs and get on a train, in some cases) and expect to get where you need to go within a few minutes. That's why there's less focus on mixed use in these buildings than you might expect.

Edited by asthasr
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I think they look great.  They just look real expensive.   

IDK if the market in Charlotte could support an entire skyscraper / complex of high-end urban residential.   But then again, I'd have rather seen Living Levels proposed than that  boring luxury condo 1Brevard that got canceled.   Also would be pretty tight if you made that the new Carolina Theatre building. 

Edited by Higgs Boson

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3 hours ago, Higgs Boson said:

I think they look great.  They just look real expensive.   

I guess this is my point. Is there something specific about America--I don't think it's Charlotte in particular--that makes these types of buildings a no-go? I agree that you'd never see them built here outside of NYC/SF/Chicago. But why? Singapore and Berlin I can understand, they're a city-state and the capital of Germany; but Nantes and Hangzhou?

I actually think even the small, everyday apartment buildings that you see elsewhere are preferable to what we're getting, because even when they're ugly, they're still urban and not superblocks. The "stick-built, hulking skin around a parking garage" look is horrible.

Maybe this all stems from parking minimums?

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Streetscape is important and Wilmington has that. As NC's largest city up until early 1900s they still have a good stock of historical buildings and lots of good buildings to work with. New hotels and apartments rising downtown too along the river.  I have a lot of photos in the Wilmington section I took today or yesterday but here are a few good ones.  Historical buildings and older buildings make a great city ---lesson for Charlotte.  1. county courthouse  2. Old Cape Fear hotel now senior housing.   If you haven't been down here in awhile you need to visit.  Their downtown reminds me of a little downtown Asheville by the water. 

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So, I found a better example of a "normal" apartment development in Asia that I would think that Charlotte could support. This is a very average project. I'm not claiming it's aesthetically perfect or anything along that line, but it's typical of what major Asian cities get: Sunrise CityView.

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16 hours ago, KJHburg said:

I love the curviness. This would be a fantastic counterpoint to all of our angular and "pointy" buildings. The "overhang" look makes me feel like it's going to fall over, though.

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From Chicago noted architect Norman Foster's Apple flagship store.  Well good design does not equal practicality sometimes. 

Snow sleet hazards due to roof, bird collisions, and worse glass cracking due to extreme cold.  https://chicago.curbed.com/2017/12/29/16830266/michigan-avenue-apple-store-winter-ice-cracked-windows

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Some ratings from Redfin:

https://www.redfin.com/blog/2017/12/redfin-ranks-2017s-most-competitive-neighborhoods-for-homebuyers.html

https://www.redfin.com/blog/2017/05/these-are-the-10-most-walkable-cities-of-2017.html

https://www.walkscore.com/cities-and-neighborhoods/

The cities that most appeal to me tend to have high walk scores (yes, sometimes that is not accurate but it's not a bad metric). That is a lot more important than architecture to me.

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What is the local regulations on sprinklers in parking garages? I am sure they are in podium style buildings where occupied finished space is above but what about freestanding ones?  1400 cars totally burned up in Liverpool England parking garage fire. Unbelievable.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5225953/VEHICLES-destroyed-multi-storey-car-park-blaze.html

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10 hours ago, KJHburg said:

What is the local regulations on sprinklers in parking garages? I am sure they are in podium style buildings where occupied finished space is above but what about freestanding ones?  1400 cars totally burned up in Liverpool England parking garage fire. Unbelievable.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5225953/VEHICLES-destroyed-multi-storey-car-park-blaze.html

Not a code pro but I believe most stand alone decks do not require sprinklers since they are not inhabited structures and therefore have no emergency egress.  Sprinklers in a parking deck would be a huge expense because they would need to cover a huge area and be dry type sprinklers to avoid freeze concerns. 

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^^^ That is kinda what I thought free standing decks don't require it. This deck in Liverpool was a freestanding garage but what an inferno.

 

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12 hours ago, KJHburg said:

What is the local regulations on sprinklers in parking garages? I am sure they are in podium style buildings where occupied finished space is above but what about freestanding ones?  1400 cars totally burned up in Liverpool England parking garage fire. Unbelievable.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5225953/VEHICLES-destroyed-multi-storey-car-park-blaze.html

Most parking decks are always built out of non-combustible materials, and for their occupancy type (S-2) they don't require sprinklers.* If they are taller than 30 ft. they do require standpipes, which are where fire fighters can hook up hoses. 

However, the code does require that when parking decks are built beneath other occupancies that they be sprinkled.**

2 hours ago, JSquare said:

Not a code pro but I believe most stand alone decks do not require sprinklers since they are not inhabited structures and therefore have no emergency egress.  Sprinklers in a parking deck would be a huge expense because they would need to cover a huge area and be dry type sprinklers to avoid freeze concerns. 

They don't require sprinklers for what I mentioned above, but I did want to add that all buildings are considered occupied/inhabited by code. Storage facilities like parking decks are just assumed to have far fewer people in them at any given time, but emergency egress is still required. 

*87 grade can't melt concrete?
**I'm leaving out lots of exceptions/details in the code, this is just a nutshell

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Photos show that the fire was so hot it vaporized/oxidized/burnt the concrete ramps down to the rebar. Cars burning, exploding and nothing left but metal and some of that burned. The major parking structure will be a total loss and must be removed.

Has there been another such event? I cannot recall it.

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Maybe what we should learn from this is that someone can burn down all the standalone parking garages in uptown. :tw_blush: 

Note to NSA, I am in no way suggesting this be done. It's a joke!!

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3 minutes ago, tarhoosier said:

Photos show that the fire was so hot it vaporized/oxidized/burnt the concrete ramps down to the rebar. Cars burning, exploding and nothing left but metal and some of that burned. The major parking structure will be a total loss and must be removed.

Has there been another such event? I cannot recall it.

I was wondering about that one photo at the top of the burned parking deck. There are many things about that photo that don't make sense to me, to the point where I'm wondering if the deck was even made out of concrete as we think of it. I don't know where the debris came from, and I don't know why all the concrete would be missing and somehow the steel rebar frame would be left intact.

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18 minutes ago, tozmervo said:

I was wondering about that one photo at the top of the burned parking deck. There are many things about that photo that don't make sense to me, to the point where I'm wondering if the deck was even made out of concrete as we think of it. I don't know where the debris came from, and I don't know why all the concrete would be missing and somehow the steel rebar frame would be left intact.

Not an expert either, just from my experience. I was thinking it was the heat from the fire spalling the concrete  and broke it up over the time of the fire leaving the inner steel rebar and the scattered "debri". The fire, while hot, wasn't hot enough to melt the steel, leaving it in place. 

Edited by 11 HouseBZ
This is my very limited, semi educated guess.

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This is a great new tower the new Salesforce Tower in San Fran.  If anyone gets out there take some photos of this one and love those views from the top.  https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2018/01/10/san-francisco-salesforce-crm-tower-opens-bostonbxp.html?ana=e_ae_set1&s=article_du&ed=2018-01-10&u=oAaDx%2B74FoP4qOJ%2By4AU6dhJPpc&t=1515627370&j=79482931

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I would love for a 400'+ tower with curved corners like that in CLT (like Ascent but with glass).  It would be a nice switch from all of the boxes we have.

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