Archive for December, 2009

Exposed!

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Now that the rainy season has arrived full on, perhaps it’s timely to expose certain downtown buildings and their owners for a socially reprehensible offense to pedestrians. I am referring here to the growing prevalence of fake canopies.

Over the last year a number of older buildings around the downtown core have been retrofitted with projecting canopies constructed of glass and steel. Some are simple and serviceable, others are quite elegant. Some have been accomplished as a part of Metro Transit’s commendable efforts toward making downtown a better place to use transit. All of these improvements are welcome in a climate that demands cover over the sidewalk during the winter and sunlight in the summer.

However, the objectives of this general endeavor are apparently not universally shared. Whether done by individual merchants or property owners, we are seeing constructions of steel ribs and struts that extend out over the sidewalks but in fact contain no glass or other materials to provide actual cover. It’s quite the mean-spirited trick: What looks like cover is, in fact, open to the sky and, therefore, rainfall.

I have experienced at least three of these architectural cheats. One is over the entrance to Belltown Court on Second Avenue. Although a small canopy, I have seen more than one parent waiting to send a child off on a school bus while waiting under this false cover and getting soaked in the process.

More egregious is the one Third, just north of the Century Square building, which has recently had a handsome canopy added to its west- and south-facing sides. The offending canopy is actually a quite elaborate and costly structure but it offers no glass panels.

American Apparel:Thumbing its nose at shoppers.

The third one I have experienced is at the American Apparel store on 6th Avenue. This structure is really a sign disguised as a canopy, which should not be allowed at all. Here is a prime street in the retail core with a national brand business thumbing its nose at shoppers. How completely rude is that?

I’m sure there are other examples, which I leave to respondents to point out.

I fear that perhaps the city’s land use code does not mention the requirement of glass (or other solid covering) in its definition of canopies – a loophole that should be corrected immediately. If glass is indeed a requirement, then these parties should be sent notices of a city code violation with the associated penalties.

Now, for those who will undoubtedly send me some sharp retorts about how transients or teenagers will gather under these projections and businesses would have to pay more for cleaning, security, blah, blah, blah — save your breath (or typing fingers). Throughout downtown there are scores of glass and steel canopies, generous in width, high enough not to block storefronts and low enough to offer shelter that are not havens for antisocial or criminal behavior. To not provide canopies in this climate and latitude along primary pedestrian streets is either being lazy or insulting.

Besides, why would we ever take the view that, because of a few miscreants, 95 percent of the population must suffer?

Seattle tops ‘most literate’ list again

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Seattle is back in sole control of the top spot in an annual study of the country’s most literate cities.

The study’s author, Jack Miller of Central Connecticut State University, drew from statistics such as newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources.

Seattle was tied at the top of the list with Minneapolis last year. This year Washington, D.C., fills the number two spot, followed by Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Portland, St. Paul, Minn., Boston, Cincinnati and Denver.

The study found that the most literate cities tend to rank high in other quality-of-life measures such as health, safety, active singles scenes and walkability.

Dubai’s Palm Island shows signs of sinking…

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
The Palm
The $12 billion man-made island off the coast of Dubai is sinking about 5 millimeters a year, CNBC reports.

The island was dredged from the seabed and is shaped like a palm to maximize waterfront real estate frontage. It’s one of several man-made islands that were constructed in the Middle East over the last five years, including Qatar’s The Pearl. More palm-shaped islands were also planned in Dubai.

In addition to loads of houses, the island is home to the megaresort – No, I am not making this up – Atlantis.

Developer Nakheel says reports on the sinkage by surveying company Fugro are “wholly inaccurate.”

World’s ugliest buildings

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Virtual Tourist is once again posting its list of the World’s Ugliest Buildings. Among those selected: Paris’ Centre Pompidou, the Royal Ontario Building in Toronto and the National Library in Pristina, Kosovo.

We know what Mark thinks. Does anyone else dare chime in on Seattle’s missteps?

Hat tip to Architectural Record.

The 16,000-square-foot “staycation” house

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
Staycation central
Construction is complete on a 16,000-square foot house in Puyallup that includes a regulation-size bowling alley, racquetball court, a movie viewing room, a raised swimming pool and pickleball courts, according to a press release I got today from Rush Custom Homes, the home’s builder.

The home is designed as a stay-at-home retreat for a family of five, the release says.

Bowling alley

“Bringing this unique family’s ‘staycation home’ vision to life was a collaboration of being discreet and yet innovative in our design,” Gordon Rush, owner and founder of Rush Custom Homes, says in the release.

Laundry and craft room
“Our team carefully arranged the home’s footprint to include all of the luxury amenities and multiple activity spaces desired without falling into an unapproachable or ostentatious design.”

The house also has multiple laundry and craft rooms– including a gift wrapping station– a master suite and a professional grade kitchen.

Construction took 18 months. Rush Custom Homes is based in Gig Harbor.