|Typical "patchwork" apartments in Richmond's historic center.|
|Old Stone Row in Richmond's Shockoe Valley.|
|New apartment building in historic Jackson Ward.|
|Image: Opponents of a new apartment complex at a recent Charlotte City Council meeting credit: Ely Portillo, Charlotte Observer|
The group has effectively defined the dense, cheap apartment blocks appearing in American cities as "sterilizing development." More than 10,400 units are under construction in Charlotte, with more than 10,300 planned. As in Richmond, many are four- or five-story mid-rise buildings being constructed in historic neighborhoods. These buildings are out of character with their surroundings in scale, materials, and proportion. Their designers attempt to mitigate their massiveness by applying a variety of exterior finishes in a seemingly patternless collage, often mixing brick, cement board, and corrugated metal. One prominent Richmond traditional architect has named this kind of form "RPQ, the Random Patchwork Quilt Style."
In Richmond, unlike in Charlotte, there has been little criticism of these new apartment blocks, perhaps because they are not yet as widespread and have not yet caused an extensive demolition of much-loved older buldings. The principal conversation in the past has been over the official design standards for new buildings in historic districts and the lack of external windows in a surprising number of rehabilitated lofts funded by historic preservation tax credits.
A forum at Charlotte's Levine Museum of the New South on June 9th defined the problem:
2. Determine what is key — can better civic design preserve elements of what is here now and allow for something new to come in and is it possible to control this?
3. Analyze the time and financial challenges developers along with the constraints and design teams must address and what options should be considered — the benefits and backlash of strong and time-consuming strict historic standards if imposed or are there other options?
4. Explore ideas for a better and more civic design and development process as well as tools and techniques and how they can help — where economics do not trump sentiment."
Civic by Design has come up with this alternate design for the kinds of bland, big-box developments that are overwhelming Charlotte's small-scale historic districts. This for an area around "Tommy's Pub," a much-loved landmark threatened with demolition.
Thanks to Tom Low on TradArch List.
Here are some pertinent links:
It's the oldest bar in Plaza Midwood, and if one developer has his way, Tommy's Pub could soon be a thing of the past.
story/29087669/plaza-midwood- residents-to-fight-against- rezoning-monday
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