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Thread: "Bavarian" design standards

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    "Bavarian" design standards

    Welcome to the city of Gaylord, Mich., "the Alpine village."





    Ordinance is here:
    http://www.partnershipsforchange.cc/...gordinance.pdf

    "The CITY OF GAYLORD strongly encourages the use of the SWISS ALPINE MOTIF in the construction and/or renovation of all commercial buildings in the CITY OF GAYLORD to maintain, enhance and to promote "GAYLORD, THE ALPINE VILLAGE" and to symbolize the City's relationship with its sister-city, PONTRESINA, SWITZERLAND."

    In the interest of safeguarding and enhancing the Swiss Alpine Motif and distinctive appeal of the City of Gaylord as the "Alpine Village" it is the purpose of this section to establish certain standards for development to be used when constructing, altering, remodeling, repairing or renovating any structure within the Downtown Development District of the City of Gaylord.

    Just one problem: developers apparently have no idea of where that might be. All of my photographs were taken on the west side of I-75, clearly some distance from the downtown...in the adjacent township.
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...cl=1&encType=1



    Okay, one other minor little quibble. What exactly constitutes a "Swiss Alpine Motif"?



    Bavarian strip mall




    Some of this is, frankly, absurd. This is the Habitat Re-Store. (What about that big ugly billboard? And the overheard power lines???)


    The Big Boy is wearing a German-style green hat with a feather. (I believe he used to be in lederhosen.)


    Car repair shoppe. Now there's a Bavarian land use.


    Another authentic Bavarian business.






    Note the Chinese buffet on the right end.


    For your chateau.


    Naming a street in a Bavarian way ought to add some points in the zoning scorecard.


    Bavarian video games.


    Esto es un restarante Bavarian.




    Did this joint get a pass? Or is "Bavarian motif" defined as "pitched roof or pointy facade" so they qualify?


    Last edited by Veloise; 18 May 2009 at 4:09 PM. Reason: adding snarky captions

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I have noted the dynamic of Instant Bavaria all over the west. One of the best examples is Leavenworth, Washington which reinvented (or I guess just plain old invented) itself as a Bavarian-American stronghold in the 1960's despite having no notable history or really any other identifiable connection to the Old World.

    The town was founded in 1893 and incorporated in 1906 mainly as a sawmill-lumber town. Nothing Germanic or Bavarian about it. In the 1920's, the railroad was rerouted to Wenatchee which was a huge blow to the town's economy.

    Here is the Wikipedia entry on what happened from there:

    The city struggled until 1962, when the Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone) Committee was formed to transform the city into a mock Bavarian village to revitalize its economy. Leavenworth's annual Oktoberfest celebration is claimed to be one of the most attended in the world outside Munich, Germany or the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest held in Ontario, Canada where attendance last year (2006) was expected to top 700,000.
    Amazingly, this fabricated cultural legacy seems to have worked.

    The pic at the header to this page on "downtown shopping" gives a good view of what one will see today. Just very bizarre: http://www.leavenworth.org/modules/p...eid=47&path=47
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Montannie's avatar
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    Looks like sort of a half-assed attempt... Have you seen Leavenworth, WA? They really went the mile... And now it's sort of creepy! They have christmas ornament stores that are open all year round and polka music can be heard throughout all of downtown. I'm sure it's brought tourism $$ into their economy, but at what cost? Hmmmm....

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    I've been to Leavenworth (in fact, in 1981 I organized a bicycle conference held there). Fond memories of the "Heidel-burger" restaurant sign.

    At least that little town has mountains, and a sense of place. A highway interchange with a Wal-Mart and a Big Boy, not so much.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Good photo series, Vel. I wish I was still in Wisconsin to take pictures - The Village of Germantown requires germanic themes, and in most major developments, including strip malls, requires clock towers.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Meanwhile, in Germany ...







    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    Esto es un restarante Bavarian.
    That used to be a Starbucks. It's one of the storefronts that got axed last fall. Glad to see that somebody moved in and set up shop - I'll take an occupied storefront with a faux theme over a vacant storefront anyday.

    [An aside: I used to have WTF moments when communities implemented faux themes in developments. But not anymore. At least they're trying. Is it garish? Yes. Is it pretentious? Yes. But does it negatively impact my shopping experience. No, not at all. The Gaylord area will continue to sprawl westward, that Meijer just opened last month. They can gussy it all up as far as I'm concerned.]

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    Bavarian faux

    A really really bad idea run amok

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I've always been amazed by how the Gaylord strip has moved to the west, but population remains to the east. I can only surmise that Gaylord is doing its best to try to be the dominant retail center of Northern Michigan. That does not stop however TC, Charlevoix/Petoskey, Alpena, West Branch, and Cheboygan all trying to go after that relatively small market share. I suppose they think that makes them stand out, but given their central location and freeway access its a no brainer that this stuff would congregate there anyway. What would have really made them stand out would have been doing a better job coordinating these strips and implementing some access management. It won't be long before you will need to widen this highway just bcause of PM retail peak, and thats ashame.

    Dan, is that a Pontiac parked in front of the German Walmart?!?
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  10. #10
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Dan, is that a Pontiac parked in front of the German Walmart?!?
    Off-topic:
    Looks like it, with North American-style license plates too.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    The Home Depot ended up looking more Thai than Bavarian.

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Check out my thread on Fredericksburg, Texas. It's a small city that took advantage of its German heritage to fuel a thriving tourism industry, while still retaining a built environment that is distinctly Hill Country Texan. There's only a few faux-Bavarian buildings, and they're far removed from Main Street. They also didn't over-do the German-ness, for lack of a better word; there's more ethnically neutral businesses along Main Street than those with German themes.

    Deutschland!









    Texas!







    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  13. #13

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    Helen Georgia - Its Alpine ya'll!


  14. #14
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    For Faux-Barvarian, I think Leavenworth, WA, is pretty well done. If the mountains were higher, it might actually look like Barvaria!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Meanwhile, in Germany ...

    *snip*
    Oh god I laughed so hard

    Although the original post left me speechless...

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    I've driven through Gaylord many times and I have to say that I find the alpine theme kinda kitchy. Although, I think the faux-German theme is much better done in Frankenmuth.

    Several years ago, we drove through Frankenmuth with my father-in-law, who was a child in Great Britain during WWII and was evacuated to the countryside due to the German bombing and lost several uncles to the war. He couldn't figure out why Americans, who are so sure that they won the war for France and G.B., would create such a place! He was agast.

    But because we're all planners, I have to ask -- is it even worthwhile to boil down a culture....it's architecture, literature, music...to a particular roof pitch? Is the Alpine culture only a roof pitch and some knitted sweater-like appliques?

    And can you imagine the plan commission meetings? "We need your strip mall to look MORE alpine, Mr. Developer." "What do you have in mind?" "Well, for one, we think there could be fake cornices applied to the strip mall with a 5:1 pitch. I think that would do it."

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by southsideamy View post
    Several years ago, we drove through Frankenmuth with my father-in-law, who was a child in Great Britain during WWII and was evacuated to the countryside due to the German bombing and lost several uncles to the war. He couldn't figure out why Americans, who are so sure that they won the war for France and G.B., would create such a place! He was agast.
    If Frankenmuth had a phone book, you would know why it has a German heritage theme! It has everything to do with who settled the area. See the history section on Wikipedia:

    The area was settled and named by conservative Lutheran immigrants from Franconia (now part of Bavaria), in 1845. The German word "Franken" represents the Province of Franconia in the Kingdom of Bavaria, and the German word "Mut" means courage, thus the city name Frankenmuth means "courage of the Franconians".

    The nearby villages of Frankenlust, Frankentrost, and Frankenhilf illustrate that the area remained a magnet for other Germans from the same region even after it lost its original purpose as a mission post for the spread of Christianity to the Chippewa tribe.
    I think it's easy as a planner to be cynical about "faux" design guidelines, that at first blush, seem to be superficial. But in reality, if done right, they are supposed to represent and reflect community values.

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