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bzorch

Thinking Long Term

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Not sure what happen today with NT. It seems when a thread begins to go off topic, we should create a separate thread. I hope it is ok to take this one out of the Demonbreun/Shoney's thread. We need as many viewpoints as possible so that we are not preaching to the choir. The cheerleading is not as interesting as the debates. There are many of us that are passionate about our points of view which keeps it interesting. NT your enthusiasm sometimes gets the best of you.

With that said, there is a need to demand better for Nashville. We should not just be happy that something is happening and accept whatever developers build as the great solutions. We also must remember that it is easy to Monday morning quarterback, but with that understanding we should still push everyone to do their best. As I said before, it really is not that hard to get the basics right.

Materials are another matter. I wish more developers would understand the life cycle cost of materials. It is especially a problem for developments that are for investment only and a developer is going to flip. They could not care any less about the life cycle cost for materials and/or energy efficiencies. There is hope on the energy efficiency front since more and more buyers are demanding better. Materials are a different matter. If the developer will be the building owner long term, they often do consider life cycle cost more seriously.

This is a reflection of the general American priorities. We tend not to think beyond each quarter and demand immediate gratification. Not many companies/people consider long term investment strategies. You rarely hear a developer say, "this should be built to last 300 years". We do not make long term investments in our cities. We tend to think we will tear it down later. Maybe that is a reason why so many love the skyscraper because it is so permanent. Has a skyscraper ever been demolished to make way for a mid-rise?

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This is fine.

The NT issue had to do with his wording of things (slightly baiting), and had nothing to do with his general topic or viewpoints . He could have redone his thread and all would have been well, but we all saw what was done instead of that.

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The NT issue had to do with his wording of things (slightly baiting), and had nothing to do with his general topic or viewpoints . He could have redone his thread and all would have been well, but we all saw what was done instead of that.

Rural King, a personal and private message to me asking for adjustments would have been better received than a public WWF slamdown. It is embarrasing to have your post canceled outright, due to gross misunderstandings, and it sort of put me in a hilarious place with nothing to lose.

Bzorch--if that's your real name--you and I both know that if the nature of my post had been different, the language would not have been put to such a rigorous and strenuous whittling. I had hoped you would sympathize, as we share many of the same ignored hopes and fears (skyscrapers vs. real buildings). In the end, I can only say: come on, peoples. Relax. This is an online forum, not a bloody Sorority hazing.

Bzorch--if that's your real name--the problems with materials you identify are, in my humble opinion, spot on. For a long time after the Second World War, we lived in a universally provisional and disposable culture, as the public realm degraded into nothing more than the ethereal medium for automobiles to pass through. Public standards have suffered as a result, and this creates a permissive and childish atmosphere which allows developers to pull cheap-ass fast ones over on both their clients and the public at large. Some of them might even be pulling fast ones over themselves, or allowing the manufacturers of crap to fool everyone down the foodchain, starting with their entire staff, and ending with the people of Urban Planet.

Well, now that my enthusiasm has gotten the better of me, I guess I'll just have to wait and see what sort of burning oil I have attracted now. I just can't help myself. There are so many good things to say about this subject, and now that someone else has started the forum...maybe the conversation can continue. I am still peacing out and stuff, but wherever "the NT issue" crops up, don't be surprised to find me there, attempting to clear my unjustly besmirched initials.

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^ Thats part of moderation. I have tried to do the PM route with folks in the past under similar circumstances, it is not efficient usually nor is it how most mods operate, as some folks are slow to respond (or non-responsive) and things get out of hand in the meantime. I treated you no differently than any other forumer who I would have locked a thread on, and explained why I did so in my post in that thread. I think most folks understand that there is no personal issue when a thread gets locked like that, which happens all the time on UP for various reasons.

NewTowner you are welcomed to post here on UP, but I think you are over-reacting to this minor issue of a locked thread. You are taking a personal offense where none was meant to be made.

We can continue this in PM if you want. This post was just to again explain to other forumers what happened and why.

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On the topic. I agree that current developers have to be careful not to build structures that look nice today, but in 30 years will stick out as out-dated designs that have not faired well structurally or aesthetically. I fear the current condo boom will create a number of low rise structures that in 30 years will not be very attractive on the landscape, nor have held up well, ala MetroManor.

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Interesting comments on the life cycles of these buildings. Anybody know what the expected life cycle of a steel-framed skyscraper is? Just curious.

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The problem is that we can beg and plea about building materials, but unless Metro addresses the situation, the delima will not be solved. There are historic overlay zones that builders have to follow guidelines, but that type of zoning is scattered around town. It is a simple fact the developers will more than often use the cheapest materials they can to have a good bottom line. The only way is to do what Brentwood is doing and mandate it. Remember what may look like trash to someone looks great to someone else. Not everyone has the same opinions about architecture. And then there are people that just dont care.

On the subject of low rise/mid rise: I use to work in Galveston Texas and a lot of the people who did development there would come into the coffee shop at the hotel I was working at the I remember one comment that was made. An old Greek guy said "you only need to build it to last 10 years and then you sell it". "You get rid of it before you have to put money back into it". He made millions building apartments there. Again some people dont care and the bottom line is the most important thing. Some things we have to live with. There are a lot of developers here that are trying to do quality work, but they cant please all the people all the time.

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Interesting comments on the life cycles of these buildings. Anybody know what the expected life cycle of a steel-framed skyscraper is? Just curious.

More than 100 years. Some of the old skyscrapers in Chicago still exist and they were built in the 1880's.

I can see a building like L&C standing well beyond my lifetime.

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how does this relate on the small-scale to a home?

I'm entertaining the idea of building a new home on my current lot (need more sq ft, but don't want to move or build on). In talking with potential developers, i ask if they can provide something architecturally significant and something that will be standing 100 yrs from now. They look at me crazy. Anyway, is it even important? I feel as though it is, but cannot articulate why...

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It is a simple fact the developers will more than often use the cheapest materials they can to have a good bottom line.

This doesn't jive. If we were truly getting the "cheapest possible" materials, then we would see a lot more buildings made out of cinderblock and aluminum like you do on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica or Sao Paolo.

What we are getting are the "cheapest permissable" materials. Our culture has a bare minimum of accepted aesthetic and structural standards, and these happen to be very low. The fact bears with it a clear message: we need to change what is permissable. There is no reason a drive-thru public realm should be built any better than the set of an HBO special, but there are plenty of reasons why a pedestrian-scaled city of neighborhoods should be built of noble and durable materials full of detail and appropriately scaled.

We need to alter our architectural standards to better reflect the material realities of a culture rediscovering the Foot. Demonbreun is caught in the middle, pulled between two opposing forces of a culture in transition--plastic suburban ringroad garbage, aligned to a human scale.

...i ask if they can provide something architecturally significant and something that will be standing 100 yrs from now. They look at me crazy. Anyway, is it even important? I feel as though it is, but cannot articulate why...

Do you plan on having grandchildren?

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There are wood frame houses still around from the late 1800' s. It's all about how the structure was built, maintaned, and the effects of nature. You should easily expect your wood-framed house to outlive you if it's not built on a sinkhole, not in the path of a hurricane, and is built right. Oh, and you've got to keep away the termintes with wood!

Most of the home renovations you see are purely cosmetic and don't go to the foundation or framing of the house unless you have major problems. I live in a newer home, but I certainly considered an older home. Like buying stocks, your only expectation of future results is based on the past. If I bought a 50 year old house, at least I'd know it survived 50 years; With my 3 year old house, who knows!

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I think the reason to build durable structures is the reason why people are looking to live in cities that have greater density, more culture, and a richer sense of community than suburban and exurban environs. Living in a walkable urban area encourages responsible resource use (like not driving a car everywhere). It makes sense to extend the principle to the structures in which we live, work, and play. Spending more money upfront on construction for sustainable materials/design can end up saving money/repair in time (including in the short term for investors). Natural Capitalism by Hawken, Lovins, and Lovins is a fantastic read on the topic of sustainability, especially for land use and construction. You can buy the book, or the eco-hippie authors also make it available as free download.

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There are wood frame houses still around from the late 1800' s. It's all about how the structure was built, maintaned, and the effects of nature. You should easily expect your wood-framed house to outlive you if it's not built on a sinkhole, not in the path of a hurricane, and is built right. Oh, and you've got to keep away the termintes with wood!

Most of the home renovations you see are purely cosmetic and don't go to the foundation or framing of the house unless you have major problems. I live in a newer home, but I certainly considered an older home. Like buying stocks, your only expectation of future results is based on the past. If I bought a 50 year old house, at least I'd know it survived 50 years; With my 3 year old house, who knows!

I live in a 1925 house that's solid as a rock and was well-maintained.

Regarding hurricanes and old houses--in New Orleans, probably half the housing stock is 19th century woodframe, so they've survived a lot of hurricanes (not talking about Katrina flooding here, just the wind). I had a friend in New Orleans who went through Hurricane Betsy in 1965, and she said the house would sway, bend, and creak, but would remain undamaged. Those old houses were all framed out with 4X4, 12 foot cypress studs, 12 inches apart, in some cases using hand-forged nails.

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NewTowner, I was trying to make sure you stayed. Your insightful, challenging and fun posts are a big attraction to this forum. I wish you would write more. You have been noticeably absent or not up to your prolific posting lately.

I thought I was defending your original post. It was not meant to offend you.

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NewTowner, I was trying to make sure you stayed. Your insightful, challenging and fun posts are a big attraction to this forum. I wish you would write more. You have been noticeably absent or not up to your prolific posting lately.

I thought I was defending your original post. It was not meant to offend you.

Cool. My bad. This is my first online forum experience, and I am totally confused by it. I am used to tossing the Football of Architectural Theory and Criticism around at a table, face-to-face, with nothing to obstruct the vistas but pencils and/or pint glasses. My consistent failure to convey my usual good-humour is now intimately paired with a failure to understand yours, and I must apologize.

Sorry, all! Rural King, forgive my growling and bristling at getting my forum locked. I am just not used to this stuff, I guess.

More on cheap buildings and their embarassing crapness later.

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Do you plan on having grandchildren?

Sure, i guess,...but i s'pose that's up to my kids. Which, i would need to have first. :)

Actually, the 100-yrs request was a demand for solid craftmanship. In addition, though, I'm interested in identifying design that will appeal to an aesthetic rooted in solid principles. example - "people - centric", not "Automobile centric" -- i wouldnt be happy with a giant garage fronting my street. i might not be explaining this very well...

kinda-related question: setbacks. I found my zoning reg on nashville.gov and i can't make sense of it. It's either 20 ft (min) or an average of the house to the left and the house to the right of me. What's the reason for this? It puts a damper on my plan to build a new house behind the existing one and then knock this one down.

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kinda-related question: setbacks. I found my zoning reg on nashville.gov and i can't make sense of it. It's either 20 ft (min) or an average of the house to the left and the house to the right of me. What's the reason for this? It puts a damper on my plan to build a new house behind the existing one and then knock this one down.

They use the average to help maintain a consistent setback in established neighborhoods. Building in a way you mentioned, as you progress along the street, your lot would seem like a hole in that wall and not maintain the neighborhood character.

You mention wanting to be people-centric. 20' min. is a good setback that promotes the neighborhood feel. I'm assuming you're in one of the historic suburbs. Now, if you built according to what you describe, you've suddenly got a new suburban setup, house in middle of lot that became the standard with the ranch subdivisions. Definitely doesn't comply with the current context I'm assuming you're in. That model is very auto-centric and in my opinion less efficient. Having the house in the middle of the lot puts you closer to your neighbors to your rear and lessens the amount of usable 'private' space in your backyard. Your front yard, typical in most ranch neighborhoods, is under-utilized and functions only to set off the house.

In addition, to get you're building permits you're going to have to comply with Zoning for their approval and if you're in a historic area, you'll be building at around the 20' setback. They want consistency.

Make sense?

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The consistent building edge is an important component to good urban design. If the houses set too far back then they become disengaged from the public realm (street). 20ft. is a good setback for a residence.

It is common for many developers to use the cheapest materials that they can get away with. Developers can not build concrete block shacks or as in the example of infamous P house papier mache. People would not buy them. For the most part, it seems people rely on what the place looks like, where is it located, and is it in my budget. They rarely consider the longevity of the building because in some ways they are expecting that if it meets building codes then it will last. Which we know is not always the case. Until recently, most people did not even consider the energy efficiency of the house. In addition, most people want quantity (square footage) over quality. I do think this is slowly changing. I know I would prefer a well designed, well built 1,600sf home over a cheaply constructed 3,000sf home.

With the advent of siding (i.e. Vinyl, aluminum) and drivet, we took a real turn for the worst. We can make buildings look decent in the short term from the street passing by at 25mph. I also think the advent of track housing did not help matters. When houses are built like assembly lines and a break neck pace what do we expect.

Lately, there has been more and more talk about prefab architecture. Some of it has looked good and they claim because it is built in a controled environment it is better quality. You get a Victorian or Modern home. I do wonder where this is going.

In the end, the quality issue of design and materials, comes down to the simply value. We are not as rich as we think we are. We expect the cheapest clothes, cars, electronics, food, and architecture so that we can consume even more. We do not care about the repercussions. We just want it cheap. Sometimes I think the America is literally built as a house of cards. The facade looks "great" but just below the surface, it is a mess. People can barely afford their lifestyles, but the feel driven by their peers and the media to consume.

I do think if people could afford better materials they would want them. They can not afford stone or brick paving, so we now have stamped asphalt or concrete. Siding looks like wood doesn't it? Then what is the difference?

I can help to think about my wife's family home in Barcelona. They now live in a small neigborhood of single-family homes outside the city. All of the homes are built out of concrete, brick, tile, and/or stone. (cold as hell when you wake up in the morning) These are not rich neighborhoods either. Wood framing is not used. I can not recall ever seeing stick frame constuction in Spain. My wife can not believe we build stick framed houses. From the working class homes to the richest neighborhoods, the architecture is often built to last. Obviously, it does cost more, but there is an appreciation for permanance.

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I can help to think about my wife's family home in Barcelona. They now live in a small neigborhood of single-family homes outside the city. All of the homes are built out of concrete, brick, tile, and/or stone. (cold as hell when you wake up in the morning) These are not rich neighborhoods either. Wood framing is not used. I can not recall ever seeing stick frame constuction in Spain. My wife can not believe we build stick framed houses. From the working class homes to the richest neighborhoods, the architecture is often built to last. Obviously, it does cost more, but there is an appreciation for permanance.

In Spanish (and even Catalan) culture, homes are considered heirloom wealth. Buying a house that will fall apart in thirty years is looked upon as akin to buying a car that will last one year. People live more locally, and tend to stick around their hometown and family--even though they usually have a choice, just as we do. This phenomenon is probably helped by the fact that many of these places are worthy of affection. Some of my best friends are European, and they will never leave Dresden or Valencia to go live in Atlanta. I don't blame them. They invest in their towns as long-term places, and their buildings show it. I have a feeling that governmental regulation may have something to do with it, too, but this is probably a cultural afterthought for most of these places. These cities are here to stay. In the end, the contrast is heavy: most American "places" look like we built them in ten years and plan on leaving in ten more. Why is our nation so provisional, as if it were nothing more than a staging post for some other nation? Where do we plan on going?

Mars, maybe. I think we can blame eighty years' worth of techno-worship, most heavily embodied in car supremecy, for the currently sad state of American public standards regarding building materials. I mean, we are talking about the same culture that fantasized about taking their meals in space-age pill form, and of living wonderful high-rise tanktread lives in which one never had to walk or go outside! A utopian and essentially Promethean vision of self-worshiping progress and the Paradise of Control seized the elites who ran much of Europe and America (and arguably India and Brazil) in the postwar years...and we Amis had the money and horizon-focused gusto to pull it off.

Shoddy building materials are found everywhere, but I think America is unique in that even our middle-to-upper income brackets--despite all the college credits they have racked up--are still totally happy to eat cardboard. People wonder why many cultures are willing to tolerate rampant corruption in their governments, or the bullying of local neighborhood mafias and cartels--I think the reasons are probably remarkably similar to the reasons we tolerate the construction and sale of a public realm worthy of neither affection nor respect. It just seems normal to us. Well, it's not normal, and it needs to change.

And it is changing, slowly (if perhaps not yet surely). Demonbreun represents a half-ass tentative step in the right direction. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about these doo-doo materials is that they don't last very long. They will eventually have to be replaced by either a) more cheap vomit, or b) actual architectural materials. This time of choosing will represent a second chance, an opportunity to steer things in the right direction.

And Demonbreun may have a second chance sooner than we think. If I were Lionhead, I would build some good buildings on the South side of Demonbreun--say, four stories tall, with office and/or residential in most of the upper stories, but also some two-story restaurant space with balconies and whatnot. I would then move every single tenant from the North side to the South side, tear down a vast majority of the North side, and build some more four story buildings which are equally committed to Utilitas, Firmitas, and Venustas: Utility, Firmness, and Beauty...the three non-negotiables in architecture. A unique opportunity for a unified architectural vision, of the sort usually only Paris can boast, is presented here on Demonbreun.

Does anyone know anybody at Lionhead? If so, tell them that the actual Rome was not built in day, despite the fact that in America:

We Built a Home

A Mighty Rome

In a Single Day

of Styrofoam

I hope they take advantage of the opportunity they have landed, even if it takes an extra year and some extra change. I think they--and all of us--would benefit in the both the medium and long terms.

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The tallest building ever razed was the Singer Building in NYC which was replaced by the Pan Am Building. The building was 630 feet and was built at the turn of the century and was demoished in 1966.

I do not know of many buildings over the 100 foot height that get razed except buildings in bad disrepair. Nashville actually had 5 in the 12 story range most notably the Sudakem Building where Cumberland stands. In Tony's defence, it was in horible condition and overrun with rats and cockroaches by the time it was vacated. I do not think it was able to be saved. The building at 7th and Commerce behind Hume Fogg was a substandard, non-descript 14 story building that was razed for a 48 story office tower in 1987 that never materialized.

I do not mind recycling some buildings if the need of the structure is no longer there. For instance, razing the D'Cache' building was fine, but destroying the American National Bank Building on Union was savage if not evil.

Building materials are an issue, and yes I wish every structure could be made of the finest materials, but in reality they cannot. Cities and the built environment are living and breathing organisms. To that end, cities breed, give birth, live, and die. In a Darwinian perspective, the fittest shall survive and poorly constructed buildings simply become the sacrafice later to be replaced by more permanent structures.

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The tallest building ever razed was the Singer Building in NYC which was replaced by the Pan Am Building. The building was 630 feet and was built at the turn of the century and was demoished in 1966.

Actually, that was for the old U.S. Steel building (now One Liberty Plaza). Singer was one of the most beautiful high-rises ever constructed (we think of the beautiful Victorian/turn-of-the-century business structures of under 5 stories, but this was an Edwardian behemoth with all the flourishes and stylings you'd see on its midget brethren). http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=102519

Contrast that with the "Black Monolith" that now sits where Singer once graced Lower Manhattan: http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=115454

Alas, had Singer been saved, it might've ended up being damaged beyond repair due to its close proximity to the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001, as its successor was feared to have been (but since recovered).

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I was recalling there was only one other 500+ footer ever demolished in the U.S., and that was the Morrison Hotel in Chicago, and that was replaced by a structure 300 feet higher, the Chase Tower. http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=117332

The next largest demolished (not including the 3 victims of the 9/11 bombings) was One Meridian Plaza http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=102728 in Philadelphia, just a few feet short of 500, and it had a lifespan of only 27 years (due to a devastating fire that occurred after only 19 years of being occupied in 1991, which I believe was its actual last year of occupation - probably one of the greatest investment losses for such a high-rise). Nothing stands on the site at all now, but they've been planning a beautiful visionary high-rise called "Center City Tower" http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=175607 which will be about as tall as the Signature if it is ever built.

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What a resource our forum is! Great info on the skyscraper demolition. Are you guys ready to demo US Bank? We could dismantle the entire skyline and build mid-rise!

Back to reality, I can not reiterate enough, that it is so easy to get the basics right. Building placement and a simple facade are really not that hard. If you at least are in tune with urban design and half way care about what you are doing, the fabric created can be decent. If you put your heart into and look for creative solutions, you can do a lot with a modest budget. It just takes gumption.

If you have ever heard James Kunstler, he seems to always bring up that America is creating a place that we may turn around one day and realize that it is not worth defending. Why do we continue to accept the crap that is spewed daily? At least UP should speak up when we see it.

We need a UP Hall of Shame?

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The next largest demolished (not including the 3 victims of the 9/11 bombings) was One Meridian Plaza http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=102728 in Philadelphia, just a few feet short of 500, and it had a lifespan of only 27 years (due to a devastating fire that occurred after only 19 years of being occupied in 1991, which I believe was its actual last year of occupation - probably one of the greatest investment losses for such a high-rise). Nothing stands on the site at all now, but they've been planning a beautiful visionary high-rise called "Center City Tower" http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=175607 which will be about as tall as the Signature if it is ever built.

Yes, I remember this. Seems like the fire burned through floors with ease - until it reached the first floor that had fire sprinklers. At the time, fire sprinklers were only required on floors above 30(?) and this fire prompted a change in federal requirements for fire sprinklers (on hopefully all floors)

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Back to reality, I can not reiterate enough, that it is so easy to get the basics right. Building placement and a simple facade are really not that hard. If you at least are in tune with urban design and half way care about what you are doing, the fabric created can be decent. If you put your heart into and look for creative solutions, you can do a lot with a modest budget. It just takes gumption.

Word!

We are all willing to put extra bucks into our "entertainment centers," computers, cars, vacations, and stuff...so please let's not moan and groan about "the inevitability of the bare minimum" in our lives and economy. Bzorch is totally right--a few extra dollars into a decent fa

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