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How can we Encourage Diverse Multi Use Architecture in Uptown?

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As an Elizabeth area resident (renter) and employee at Discovery Place, I often walk through 4th Ward and my neighborhood and am discouraged by the "sameness" of many of the condoes and apartments that keep getting built. I realize that many would disagree with me on this point, but it seems to me that the condos on Church and 7th, 5th and Poplar, 6th and Grahm and even many of the smaller town homes in the Grahm/8th/9th street area have a similar "cookie cutter" look to them. Granted that by themselves they are nice enough looking buildings, but when all put together they take on a look of "sameness". I also realize that developers need to make $$$ and that "sameness" can be cheaper to build and thus increase profits. However, can this town support developers who encourage invovative designs and facades and build them? The Avenue is a case in point. It looks new and different, but when compared to what I see being built in other cities, it looks like the same old same old.

Id like to see "greener" building practices mixed in with commercial designs that work to incorperate strong retail bases on the first levels, with green roofs, varied colors of concret mixed with steel and such. The Ratclif tried to do this, but when looking at it from Stonewall, it looks like half brick structure zipped together with a steel structure in a hap hazzard way. Call me picky but I am just pointing out some examples. The Arlington, while obseen at first glance, and definatly Pepto Bismol looking in appearance, does break the same old same old mould and gives diversity to the skyline. Its grown on me, over time in ways that other condo residences have not.

Just want to see what you all think and if others feel like I do. While I like older buildings- the wonderfull senior citizens home on Tryon and 8th is a PRIME example of what needs to stay as well as the odd yet interesting two buildings on Elizabeth Ave accross from The Custom Shop and the wonderful Eliz Creamery, that I hope will be allowed to stay and find new uses.

Any thoughts or disagreements? (sorry for my spelling, I have yet to down load the spelling function for this site)

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Not sure if you want a response to the subject title, or a response to your opinions on Charlotte architecture, so I'll try to split the difference.

In my opinion, repeating a certain style of architecture is fine, as long as the architecture is relavent to the environment.

Let me give a few examples of where this fails.

The office condos on the east side of N. McDowell between Trade and 6th (two seperate developments). Built probably in the early 80's, the design fails to acknowledge it is in a gridded, urban portion of the city, where faux-Georgian has no relevence....plop this at Morrocroft, and it all of a sudden makes sense (regardless of poor urban form).

The early 1980's apartments and condos in 4th ward that you mentioned. While they fit somewhat into the urban enviroment, they don't respect the existing homes and businesses with design or materials. Even more guilty, is Hackberry Court. While it often looks good in photos, it's because the perception is that it is part of a larger overall neighborhood of federal-style rowhouses. When viewed looking down Poplar, it looks rather silly.

A large root cause, in my opinion, is that the city was too small in the late 1800's-early 1900's, during the height of the urban development boom. This means, large urban neighborhoods never formed to set the context for future development. During the brief infill craze of the 1980's, there was no existing urban development to act as a guide. Architecture was at a low point, and greed was at a high point, and you can see the result.

Now, the urban boom is much stronger and sustained, but there is no guidelines for what should be built. Charlotte was pretty much all single-family in its urban core, and now land prices preculde low density to mesh with what exists. I think what we are seeing now is an attempt to set a trend (admittedly copyed from the Anywhere USA handbook). Right now, a lot of it seems out of place, because there are several similar projects plopped down in a previously low-rise setting. Hopefully, the urban trend will continue, and they will just appear to be part of the chronological story of Charlotte.

As far as some of the projects in 1st Ward. The greatest sin is the repetition of facades. I think the overall architecural style is fine, but the same facade should not be repeated for the entire block. What is even weirder, is a slightly altered syle is repeated on the opposite side of the street. The city certainly COULD eliminate this as a design option for developers, but there are a lot more battles to fight with planning before this one.

I like this topic......I hope it picks up steam, as I could probably ramble for hours.

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When I moved here 7 yrs ago from Buffalo, the biggest architectural element of change I had noticed was the extensive use of brick. Appearently brick is a lot cheaper here since it is made here. Architecturally, I think a lot of Charlotte architecture "fits" for the surrounding, as in low-rises. Many have the dark red/maroon color to them with green steel accents, to speak of a generality. I think the style fits very well, especially down in South End, however, I feel its so overly used, I would just love a building to come out that is completely out of the ordinary, maybe even a non-Charlotte style. I think it would cause a lot of buz and be a unique piece of architecture then. It would be nice to see some sort of Frank Lloyd Wright style, or some meditteranean colors/style as long as Charlotte's thought "brick-steel" style I guess you can say is something that shouldn't go. I guess my point is that I enjoy Charlotte's architecture to one extent, although the repetativity is starting to get on my nerves, and I'm more looking forward to more steel, glass, and exotic architecture, even if some critics say it isn't Charlotte style.

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