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orulz

Keeping an eye on planning agendas...

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Found two tidbits in the agendas of recent planning agendas.

First, a condo project called Ravenscroft Project on (you guessed it) Ravenscroft Drive, on the South Slope between Coxe and Lexington. The project appears to be done by some of the same people responsible for 12 South Lexington. From the Technical Review Committee agenda:

2. Pre-application conference for a condominium project identified as Ravenscroft Project located on Ravenscroft Street. The design team is lead by Siteworks Studios and includes Peter Alberice and the owner is Power Development. PIN 9648.06-38-6501, 8400, 6501, 4684, 7593, and 5343.

Planner coordinating review

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Alberice? That's the firm behind 12 South Lexington. I'm glad we'll have more people living downtown, but good God, another "Queen City Boring" style building? That makes two nearly complete, one soon to begin construction, and another one in the pipeline if you count this one.Those things are an architectural pox.

Oh well, maybe it will be really tall. That would make it more tolerable even if it is bland.

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I guess I'm not nearly as concerned about architectural styles as you, as long as the building has proper urban form. I lived in Japan for a year, and with the exception of a very few (both old/traditional and new/modern) buildings, everything is boring, ugly, tacky and bland: a mix of 1960s-1970s international style and unexciting, safe, postmodern architecture. And yet, every city has such a vibrant, dense, fun, and livable (if you don't mind the crowds!) urban atmosphere.

That, more than anything, convinced me that not everything needs to fit one person's (or any person's) definition of attractive to create a wonderful city. Sure, it makes a city pretty to look at, and it is nice, but to me urbanness and livability are 100 times more important.

Part of me also says that we shouldn't dilute our stock of geniune, period art deco architecture with modern-day replicas. We don't want to turn downtown into the art-deco counterpart of the tudor-style, semi-faux historic district at Biltmore Village. But most of me says that we should require proper urban form and encourage attention to detail through architectural review, but - really - any style is fine.

Besides, there hasn't been so much as a site plan released for 'Ravenscroft Project' (hope they change that name...) much less an architectural elevation or rendering. So we don't even know what it's going to look like yet! :thumbsup: Anyway, I'm excited to see more plans for the South Slope.

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Oh, I know we haven't seen a site plan or anything else yet, but I don't see the architects changing their spots.

I care about architecture because if offends me when a developer turns parasitic and leaches off Asheville's attributes rather than trying to create more of them. For example, consider the Wachovia Bank. Their reasoning must have sounded something like this:

CEO: Well, there's two absolutely gorgeous buildings across the street here and I can't think of any other way to honor them more than to build this hulking, windowless piece of crap that's going to sit here like a boil on the city's ass for God only knows how long.

Yes-Men: Hear, hear, sir! Great plan!

And so we have a hulking, windowless piece of crap that will sit there across from the Drhumor Building and the S&W Cafeteria, like a boil on the city's ass for God only knows how long.

I can imagine what's it's like in the brainstorming sessions at Camille-Alberice Architects also.

Alberice: Well, we've got this vibrant, exciting, gorgeous little city known nationwide for its beautiful buildings. I think the best way to honor that and make it even better would be to build what looks like a parking garage with windows, so yawn-inducing as to cause motorists to drop dead-asleep at the wheel and drive into trees at upwards of 75 mph.

Camille: You're the coolest, sir. That sounds just perfect.

Kidding aside, yes it bothers me that developers are taking advantage of the beauty that came before them to sell units in these ugly, boring buildings. This is Asheville, and it's not just any old town. It deserves better, and by better I mean projects that are attractions in and of themselves. Developers should be able to say, "You'll want to live here in this beautiful building! It adds to the skyline, and it's delightful at street level too -- it's a building artists will want to paint, and just look at the craftsmanship that went into all this decoration! Talk about your prestigous addresses!"

As opposed to, "You'll want to live in this boring beige box because all the other buildings nearby look much, much nicer than this one, and you'll be lucky enough to live here and look at the nice buildings instead of having to live in the nice buildings and look at this piece of crap. We're criminally lazy and couldn't be bothered to get up off our asses and design something anyone would actually want to look at."

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