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Mith242

Older, Traditional Architecture vs New Architecture

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I can't recall this being discussed anywhere. This has come up in my city a number of times and I've been thinking about it. But I was curious to see what other people's opinions are on this. If a new development was coming to your city should it be developed in a manner that makes it look likes it's a lot older than what it really is or should it be done in a more modern style? I realize there are a lot of variables involved in something like this. I know on one side you have people that want something evokes more traditional themes and in a lot of cases blends in well with the other architecture. But others argue that a city should attempt to live in the past and should move forward including in it's architecture. I know people also don't like developments that use whatever is popular at that moment because there's a good chance they will end up looking 'dated' in a couple of decades. Although I've noticed sometimes if given enough time people are better able to appreciate a lot of architecture. A lot of older architecture that is appreciated now was probably seen as 'dated' at some point in it's life. Anyway I was just curious to see what people thought.

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I think that is a very hard thing to give an absolute on. Just because it is new doesn't mean it is good, but just because it looks old doesn't mean it is comforting, either. It depends upon the specific project.

I think it really comes down to the actual design. In many cases "modern" looks often aren't completely in touch with people's likes and dislikes. And in many cases surviving older buildings are often that way siomply because they were the best examples and people tried to presere them. The real isue, though, is people's reaction to progress. In many cases people prefer the old styles because they are looking back to more plesant designs and memories. I find it kind of interesting now how mid-century modern is becoming so retro and comforting.

Personally, I think that if you want to do a modern building, it has to be something that relates to teh pepole. If the deisgn is good and they like it, then they won't object to it.

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Regardless of how you detail it, anything built today is really a modern building. Technologically, it doesn't pay to stay mired in the past.

Past that, what a building looks like is totally a matter of taste. As an architect, I've done things in both a tradtional and modern vein where detail is concerned, and really it comes down to whether a client (and the intended audience) is happy with the design in context.

Anything can look out of place if you make it that way, and sometimes buildings are designed to be slightly out of place to force an aesthetic point of view. There really isn't a right or wrong answer because of this. It's just opinions.

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Yeah there isn't any wrong answers. I was just curious what people thought. I know a lot of people don't mind having some details that reflect older traditional styles. But some people aren't crazy about buildings that try to look like they're really something a lot older than what they are. But there are a lot of variables involved.

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Living in a charming historic neighborhood and 80 y.o. home yet also being a designer very interested in all types of architecture and technologies I must admit to being rather schitzophrenic on this subject. I find a lot of comfort in older classic architecture, and most folks are very conservative about houses so you rarely find any truly modernistic design there.

I think for me the scale, fenestration and use of quality materials in a creative attractive way is more important than adhearing to a specific style-the new should relate to the old well, but not copy it.

In this neighborhood there have been a couple of very bold residential designs that have gathered national attention but neighborhood criticism- Davids Killory observation house to name one-and so most renovations or additions are attempts at copying as closely as possible the original. I have done it myself, but admire those who are able to convince there clients to be a bit more bold.

A older bow truss framed supermarket from the '50s here is in the process of potential development into 40+ condos with 50,000 sf of retail and the design proposal so far has caused a great deal of neighborhood concern-the design tries too hard to look like the bungalows and spanish homes of the area and because of the much larger scale looks rather ridiculous almost like a resort hotel near an amusement park. I would much rather see row homes with interesting balconies, metal trellises, bay windows projecting outward-interesting cladding and such. Honest in the era that they were built and taking advantage of new technologies and lifestyles of the prospective owner's.

It is such a larger scale development than any other property that has been developed for 50 years in the neighborhood and is in the very center so it will define the neighborhood for good or bad for years. Fortunately it is in litigation so hopefully that will allow more time for a creative yet sensitive design to yet emerge.

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What's bad is when building details are out-of-scale and essentially grafted on for a certain look, kind of like the example with the supermarket conversion. Nobody wins in that scenario.

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I think this issue tears many people down to their soul's. As stated before in the thread, most residential designs are still very traditional and I doubt that will change in this country for some time to come. The only time it seems you see true modern design in residential development is in high rise condos in dense urban areas.

I think well maintained, preserved, or buildings of note should have every effort made to save them and utilize them for modern needs. However, there are times that renovation costs would exceed the worth of the completed project and it may be a reality that this building may need to be sacrificed. Many older buildings contain neglected and substandard (by today's codes) infrastructure, neglected handicap accessability, and may have hazardous construction components present.

Personally, I think you can mix traditional and modern architecture and still stunning cityscape. Any design, well thought and executed can make an impression on the public.

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I think there should be a mix, although unfortunatly most "classic"/post modern architecture is cheaply and poorly done. I love the old styles of architecture, but the intricate carvings and statues that I love are absent on virtually all new construction. That is why I typically prefer the ultra modern and futurist designs, they fit the time period and are designed at a realistic modern quality level.

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I've always been a big fan of buildings that look more traditional, historical. But in my town it would probably depend on where the building was being built. We definately don't have much older architecture or buildings that are suppose to look older so it could look out of place if it was near more modern buildings.

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Either way can be the correct way. But one thing that really ticks me off to no end is when an architect takes a more or less historical building and designs an addition that tries to mimic the original structure but ends up looking cheap because they use different materials and/or fails to keep small but important details. If you're going to do an addition, either do a faith recreation of the original design or go a completely different route, not something in the middle!

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There are of course both good modern and good traditional architecture. But traditional buildings I love the most, are the traditional greek and roman temples, and Gothic Cathedral. The top modern buildings like Guggenheim are also very beautiful. Actually I do prefer the top moderns ones, but some times they just look awful.

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In certain neighborhoods, for instance the famous old part of Savannah, GA, the buildings should definitely reflect the original architecture. Otherwise, I think it's up to the developer or whoever is building the structure as to how it looks. I for one am a huge fan of the most modern of design - which happens to nicely reflect 1950's high architecture fashon, a period I have been enamored with for quite some time before the trend became popular. It is very, very sleek and can be built to blend in beautifully with any scenery; with its emphasis on low horizontal lines, it's even a little bit Japanese, too.

In fact, if anybody here watches House, the hospital he works at is a VERY interesting place. It's an old brick structure, probably dating back to the 1800's, but the additions to it as well as the inside are very modern, and although the two should clash, they actually mesh extremely well.

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Well Richmond seems to be stuck in an ugly 1980s warp. We love to build our conservative boxes with no thought to any real design. We have rich architecture in our older buildings, why not feed off them? Why not put elements of stuff in it? They want to tear down a neat art deco building with a pyramidal roof and they want to replace it with another box that won't even be a part of the skyline like this building is. Richmond is the worst place to be if you want to see something new actually be anything but a faceless, souless, box.

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It's a tougth question, considering it's not a one size fits all in any situation. For the most part in a quick study of the new suburban developments in Metro Grand Rapids one would note that the "old" architecture pantterned in the developments are poorly done. IMHO, when architecture is created with new material, new techniques, new codes, and applied to a design of 'dated' architecture, say something you'd see in the early turn of the 20th century it will usually not turn out to everyones expectations. When an architect has a strict building code, tight budgets, timetable, etc... It appears the ornamentals go on lacking and the "old" appears copied.

With the modernism going on, especially with this "Lohn-esque" it appears that you have a nice compliment of materials. It interacts quite nicely with old architecture, almost reflecting the beauty of the architeture surrounding it.

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I like how they have done it in parts of Pittsburgh. When a new structure is built an aspect of the older, historical structure was kept as part of the new. The Pitt Law building was built onthe grounds of the old Forbes Field which is a historic sports stadium. Forbes Field is gone but they laid brickwork down to mark the foul lines and retained a small section of wall marking the outfield fence. There are other buildings in Pitt...in Oakland...where the new building stands and a small section of the older building has been preserved. In front of..or alongside of depending on your vantage...the mighty Cathedral of Learning is a tiny little old wooden schoolhouse which marks the contrast between the past and the future so to speak. It's nice if older, historical building can remain intact but progress is inevitable and I like the attention paid to what is being replaced. Pretty cool I think.

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San Diego's new ballpark, Petco, incorporated a corner of an existing 100 y.o. brick loft building as the left foul line -the yellow line travels right up the field to the corner and straight up-and configured the whole ball park around that. The old loft building hosts great intimate party balcony seats. The rest of the ball park utilizes strong buff colored sandstone and slate cladded elements evoking the cliffs above the ocean here-with lots of plantings starting to cover many of the elements. I think the juxtaposition works real nice, they didn't need to copy the brick of Baltimore or Denver parks. Antoine Predock was the architect (along with HOK sport)

The rest of the area-now called the East Village was once nearly all large single-story brick warehouses, a few victorian cottages-and frankly pretty dilapitated, lots of homeless. The new development-dozens of loft condos, 5-30 stories over retail/restaurants, has nonetheless saved a few of the nicer older buildings and have incorporated detailing from the older into the newer architecture quite successfully. Far from perfect but the area now is absolutely hopping and pretty exciting to watch the transformation.

Saving some of the old-depending on the quality/quantity of the existing infrastructure- and building sensitively scaled and detailed newer architecture while incorporating new techniques and materials is a great solution. Though of course the scale is always going to be larger and denser-thats what brings life to cities and neighborhoods.

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Richmond is a good city that preserves its rich history. Weve renovated old tobacco factories into lofts, restored old hotels and skyscrapers. We now face the destruction of 3 of our oldest skyscrapers. West Hospital, The Murphy Building, and Hotel Richmond. The mayor had said if the Hotel Richmond or Murphy Building were to be demolished, the new building would mimic the state capital's architecture. Id be all for that, the usuing of older architecture on a new skyscraper. Though it would an upset to lose the already historic building, the new one would add a lot to the city's atmosphere.

Time is all it takes before that one will be demolished. Building and destroying is an ongoing thing. One day the new skyscrapers of our day will eventually be demolished or vacant as a newer one gets built. I wish it wasnt true, but Im sure the men that built the old skyscrapers of the past knew in the future, their might be the site of an even newer building.

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Where did that come from? :blink:

By the way, the Murphy could possibly be considered our first skyscraper, but most tend to mention the buildings on Main St, three of the four that's still standing were built one after the other each one taller. I personally would like to see the Gallego Mill reconstructed as it was the tallest brick structure in the world... it had to have had about 8 floors... big for the 1850 and 60s.

But Richmond recently stinks at preservation. The city has started to destroy whole blocks of old houses, some of them antebellum. They're not even being replaced, so there are sections in the city with too many fields. I've been told that some were torn down despite preservationists' efforts to save them. They only care about preserving the brick and brownstone structures of The Fan, basically the 1890s-1920s houses. People rave about Jackson Ward, but most of original Jackson Ward is gone. But even there, the brick homes are saved while the wooden ones that may be neglected by its owner and are still good, get torn down if the city gets ahold of them.

But we're still a pretty historic city and the older architecture has a lot of stories to tell... the new does too, but we can't recreate what was. We can try, but it's not the same. But as cities pregress, it doesn't hurt to incorporate elements from certain styles...

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There's generally little built after the 1950s that I like in terms of single family homes, though in terms of high rises I certainly like modern designs.

The exception I guess is the Mediterranean or Spanish style, which I find less dated. The modern subdivisions I tend to like are the ones that utilize older styles of architecture. There is a nice new subdivision I like very much where the houses are all patterned after circa 1900 Victorians with nice sidewalks and retro streetlamps. I think these won't appear dated after 20-30 years as many other styles do.

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It's really a matter of context on the site the building is built on. uber post-modern glass buildings often look great and they have a huge base of fans. I love them too. But say you're doing an infill project in a neighborhood filled almost entirely with 4-6 story 1910s apartment blocs built with red and brown brick. Is a 25-story blue reflective glass tower the best fit? I would say no. Should the architect get out his textbooks and try to copy the 1910s style to a T on the lowest budget possible? Again, I would say no. Alternatively, the design could mix daring wall and roofline angles & sleek facade that make a very po-mo statement with a color pallette and scale that are not an offense to the surroundings.

For as many cheesy beaux-arts and art deco reproductions that have been done recently in Jersey City and Hoboken, there are a few examples of more contemporary & unique design schemes that have settled well into their older neighborhoods. I want to do an infill photo tour of Hoboken and JC and share it on UP soon!

Tall, sleek yet edgy glass towers look great in CBDs where decades of recurring redevelopment have resulted in a hodgepodge of architectural styles, or in formerly industrial areas where there's a ruggedness and common appearance of steel, glass, gray and blue colors that towers could feel at home in.

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As sort of an echo to what evryone else has posted, it all comes down to quality design.

Its not quite fair to say that traditional buildings should not be built because the technologies have changed and its no longer possible to create a "good" looking traditional building. It certainly is possible to create a well designed traditional building, but a developer/owner has to be willing to pay the price or the building will look cheap. Unfortunatley too many buildings that aim for traditional design use stock materials and vinyl decals to try and convey their intent but acheive only a cheap immitation.

The other problems that lead to many traditional design failures are improper proportions, uderscaled features (especially when using stock ornamentation on large buildings), or the use of a style meant for small buildings on a large project such as the bugalow/spanish incident mentioned in this thread. Before attempting a pure traditional building one must be very familiar with the style or conduct research to acheive a good affect.

However, I think that post modern, or a modern with tradition flavor, is a much more progressive in that it is more of a revival of traditional design (similar to the revivals at the begining of the 20th centurey) rather than completely mimicing the styles. This style can blend into traditional neigborhoods while still making a modern statement.

I welcome modern design as well, even mixed with historic buildings. The mix of modern and traditional is as interesting as an entirely traditional district and certainly more interesting than an all modern district.

So, all and all, I don't have a prefernece as long as it is of quality construction, well designed, and is "in-tune" with its surroudings.

-edit, I read the post above and remembered to add a few more thing

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I think its of great importance, that if you want the city to have modern architecture, you must preserve the historic buildings and construct classical infill, to balance it out. If the modern styled structure becomes an eyesore, there still is a mattress of timeless structures. I prefer older architecture becuase it shows the ties of the people(that we lack today)

where they work hard together to construct beautiful things(goverment buildings, religiouse temples, etc.)

Today I just dont find that sort of connection of the people. I like the old buildings from 1930 back.

The only problem with modern architecture is that it could become an eyesore, or disrespect a citys old background.

I have lived in an old house for many years, I pay little for heating, and little for cooling.

The windows are large, and the ceilings are high, the structure is incredably sturdy made from timber beams.

I like the sturtyness, and the craftsmanship of tiled ceilings, hardwood floors, the look of the victorians is just so inspiring. The organized athstetics that we lack so today.

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I see this issue come up on boards all the time, but there is never a resolution. Why?

Because there is none.

First off, the type of architecture represented in the building is the spirit of the developer/client, not necessarily the complete conception of the architect, building and style codes. People are quick to blame architects if a building is too traditional because it's not of our time, or if a modern building goes up in a historic neighborhood and doesn't fit the character. Granted these are exceptions. And I do believe that if the majority of people in a particular area believe the building is not in harmony with their surroundings or the context of the neighborhood overall, they are probably right. There is a reaosn why we have historical districts. But in the case where these rules don't apply, whatever type of building goes up is what the developer wants. The architect is hired to do his or her best to make the clients vision of the highest quality possible. This is where the definition of good or bad design comes into play.

So there is no traditional vs contemporary. We all have our own vision for what we think is beautiful. I hope to build a house someday that looks like it was connstructed in the early 1900's. There isn't anything wrong with that because that's my preference.

I would strongly encourage people to reconsider saying "a city must" or "architects must do this" because they are not owners of these buildings. Granted planners and comissions will have a say on what sensitive areas will require stylistic codes, and of course architects have the power to manipulate the form and expression of a building, but the overall vision is still largely that of the developer. And believe me, changing the opinion of a developer is next to impossible.

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A lot of good points have been made in the course of this discussion, but I wanted to address something in the post that kicked everything off:

If a new development was coming to your city should it be developed in a manner that makes it look likes it's a lot older than what it really is or should it be done in a more modern style?

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