Friday, November 17, 2006

Sore Thumb

A politician once said that all politics is local. The same is true for good architecture. The redevelopment of the Jefferson Plaza Shopping Center is a good example of this axiom.

Conceptual renderings show a pair of curved glass-and-steel towers rising to points, with trees growing on rooftop terraces, fountains and pools on the grounds and intense lighting at the base of the structures, tapering toward the peaks. One tower might exceed 30 stories, far taller than any building for miles.

"It's going to be real dramatic lighting, along with dramatic water features," St. Raymond said.

The idea, however, is not receiving an entirely enthusiastic welcome in the neighborhood. Some nearby residents protest that it will exacerbate traffic problems, overshadow their houses and stick out, rather than stand out, among Old Jefferson's post-World War II wood frame houses.

So why is this design so unpopular? Seymour D. Fair offers his thoughts:
Architect Daniel Libeskind's above design was not what I had in mind--and I am not completely against multiple floored residential buildings at this site unlike many residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Daniel Libeskind is a great architect with soaring ideas for his designs, however like most starchitects, he is not in tune with the local vernacular and traditions. It is likely that the architectural firm was given a survey of the site along with some photos. With this information in hand, the design process begins. The architect may be able to come up with a design that will get noticed. But that is not always a good think. Severe birth defects get noticed too but no one wants one.

The developer and local residents would have been better served had a local architect been retained for the design. Perhaps the local architect's design wouldn't have been as radical but it probably would have been more contextual meaning more sensitive to the local environment and residents. This can't be done from a corner office in Manhattan.

1 comment:

mominem said...

I was in a meeting with some local business people recently one mentioned a project he was thinking of trying to develop.

One of the other people in the room said they would be serious opposition.

A third person said there was always serious opposition to any new project.

Everyone agreed.

I've been thinking about that. I think they're right. Any new project is very difficult to realize, much more difficult than in other places.

I wonder if that has something to do with out lack of economic development.