>improving a corner of town (hopefully)

>In an old farmer’s field some new development has been raising buildings along a route I often take from work when I want to drop off my dry cleaning. Years ago this part of town was in the country. Now it is a growing area with a Costco nearby and new houses springing up. I find it amazing how building can completely transform a piece of land, and by how much I often like the transformation.

I am an advocate for more concentrated urban development and less sprawl, that is, development that brings together working and living spaces into near proximity while discouraging the growth of suburbia. But I also believe mere concentration is not enough. People need good design, which includes both well-thought functionality and beauty. So my eye has been caught by this new construction, which seems to border on sprawl, but is far more concentrated and aesthetically pleasing than most of its surroundings.

I felt not a little conspicuous walking around the construction site snapping a few pictures, so I only took a handful and left quickly. But I think these will provide enough of an idea and to what is going on.

On the one hand there is nothing very special about these buildings. Exciting and daring design doesn’t happen around these parts very often, and this is not particularly exciting and daring. But there is something about the design that has a post-modern-lite feeling, which is basically a simple modernism with post-modern trim (although I make no claims to really know what I am talking about). Regardless, this is a good thing. Most of the construction nearby is either concrete-tilt-up boxes (Costco, etc.) or 1960s suburbia houses.

The buildings are also multi-use: stores below, offices and apartments above. Plus, by creating nearly identical structures on both sides of the street, they approximate a classic-style “strolling” street with a slight European flare. I wish the street was narrower. That would make it a little more human in scale, rather than scaled for autos. But if they did that it would be downright un-American.

As part of the overall development, there is a row of new houses going up as well.

If you want one, they start at $475k. Which means you won’t see me lining up just yet.

My hope, as it is with all new construction around these parts, is that it elevate the prevailing assumptions about how people can live and work. We’ll see. My curiosity is piqued. Now they just have to make it more affordable.

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