Originally Posted by bunt_q
I guess I am really not following your criticism here. Bad architecture, okay, I don't really have an opinion either way. But bad urban form? How so? I'm really not sure how I could improve on the urban form here; this is exactly what we need.
Are you just concerned about the ceiling height? Why? I'm not sure eyes on the street are that critical (relative to the eyes on the ground - and feet- a grocery store will pull in), and even so, what's the difference between eyes at 20' and eyes at 30'?
Retail spaces are better with high ceilings. The higher, the better. And also the more versatile that space will be in the future if it's ever not a grocery store anymore. I don't see any downside at all to this.
I agree from a development standpoint this is good, the uses are good, the residential puts more people living downtown, the grocery store makes living downtown better for thousands more. My argument is more of a rehash of the earlier debate about block size buildings in the ballpark and articulation of facades, I'm just saying that the proportions and scale feel wrong.
Its the architectural education in me I guess, its super brick(utility brick?) vs modular brick. Architecture should be about the relation of space to the scale of the person, regardless of style or -ism. For example look at the size(not to mention color) of the bricks/blocks on the Glass House compared to any building in Lodo. Scale is why Southlands, and Northfield, and Southglen, and 29th street, and Belmar, don't feel like what they are trying to imitate.
What I am afraid of is something like the 800 block of Acoma. Its got all the density/massing of what is being proposed for Union Station but it feels wrong if you walk down the street. The scale is wrong, the buildings face inward, the unit access and orientation is inward, there are no stoops, or doors, or walkups, (or balconies for that matter which makes this comparison a bit flawed, also does 816 acoma have minimal unoccupied retail?) but its definitely not what I want the Union Station neighborhood to be.
I had a professor in school who preached the concept of "urban fabric"(see Renee Chow, "Suburban Space:the fabric of dwelling", not my prof btw) Basically the internal dimensions, access, claim and use of the buildings and the rhythm of these concepts across multiple buildings defines the neighborhood and thus "place". In short you can make the buildings look like something desirable(ie: lodo) but if they don't function the same the overall effect will be lost.
Again, the building and grocery store are a HUGE WIN and should have been built 5 years ago if it were not for East West). This probably really isn't the forum to pick architecture fights with myself but I think a lot of these developments are getting these things wrong, then again there is very little to nil ROI on materiality and feeling and human scale. I just wonder about the net effect this has on the built environment/perception of architects/architecture. Would you average person who says contemporary architecture is cold or boring or whatever feel the same if the building scale related to them better.(see comments on ken's blog)
To address your other points more succinctly;
"Urban form" was probably the wrong word, not sure I have a word for whatever nebulous concept I'm attempting to define above.
Ceiling height doesn't concern me much in the grocery store, in fact if we are talking about feeling, height helps in a big box, think the Speer King Soopers. I do take issue with applying the height across the whole building, seems like a waste of money and resources, which could be applied to the materiality for example.
Eyes on the street- I think there is a big difference between balcony's at 20 and 30 feet, though if that was the only thing maybe I wouldn't make such a big deal about it. Somewhere in that height range I think the disconnect between what goes on outside and what is inside your apartment appears. At 12' feet you see the street while sitting at your desk or dining room table, at 20' feet you probably see the other side of the street while standing up in your apartment, at 30 feet you only hear the street/have to go to the window to see, in the Spire someone could get stabbed/mugged on Champa and you probably wouldn't know. I would also argue that a grocery store doesn't add many eyes at street level, I'm sure many of the windows will be blacked out, along 20th for sure.