Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: The use of metal buildings...

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Tri-Cities, Washington
    Posts
    9,168
    Blog entries
    2

    The use of metal buildings...

    Even when they can't use metal siding, they still do.

    I have alluded before to my utter hatred of metal buildings. It seems the applicant (I am not blaming the architects) has little or no integrity and just wants to slap up a building in order to begin raking in the dough...

    Some put up such a stink, that there is sometimes a comprimise to not have metal public right-of-way, which leaves the sides and rear looking like an industrial compound.

    Now we are trying to move away from this-- at least only allowing metal in Industrial districts and near our airport... but we still get retail businesses and garages (in our beautiful older part of town) proposed, which begins a laundry list of architectural negiotiations and the inevitable, "You're making me spend too much money."

    Just wanted to vent and add some pics. Who knows, maybe begin some dialog with the Throbbing Brain...

    The front of this shopping center looks fairly decent. Three retail/commercial units in the structure, and the stucco, use of color, and architectural elements define the entrance, and separate the units. Not the best looking, but fairly decent as said before.


    Facing neighboring businesses, as well as backing up to older homes, the metal siding here can change the face of the surrounding areas. The homes behind the store (well, behind the railroad tracks, behind the store) are a little run down and some are decaying, there are a lot of vacant units along here too. Maybe if they were facing different materials, it wouldn't seem so "industrial" back there...? Maybe even change the feel of the housing?


    As I write this, my thoughts have jumped in a couple different directions, and I am beginning to wonder:
    Development is inevitable, but could we as planners (through the use of different building materials) change the overall "feel" of a neighborhood?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
    Posts
    37
    My old house had metal exterior shingles that held up wonderfully since 1969, when they replaced wood siding (the house was built 1945). I guess the attractiveness metal siding depends on how it's used, painted, and what texture it is.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Picture 1.jpg  

  3. #3
    Metal siding may not be the most attractive material, but try to visualize what that wall would look like if it were made of brick or concrete or even marble. It would be just as horrible, because ultimately a huge blank wall is horrible in any material.

    The most obvious solution is a form-based code that clearly defines the form of buildings and walls that face the street. Then the developers would have a definition to follow when determining the shape of their buildings.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    10,074
    I have mixed feelings about metal. As Zman acknowledges, what we typically think of as a metal building is perhaps acceptable in certain districts within the city. These buildings do, however, detract from any residential neighborhoods they abut, and can even have negative influences on commercial districts. Other siding materials will usually look better. Even with these, the quality of the architecture makes a huge difference. The same is true of metal. I have seen many very attractive buildings sided with metal (though not the usual standing seam siding used on pole buildings). That leads me to dislike outright prohibitions on metal. How, then, do we define what is appropriate?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2005
    Location
    first-ring suburb
    Posts
    93

    The Lustron House

    These all-metal houses were built in the postwar era. They look a lot like Levittowners, even with the metal siding.

    Here are a couple links:

    http://www.wosu.org/tv/lustron/house.php
    http://www.recentpast.org/types/resident/lustron/

    And here's another with lots of photos.

    http://www.agilitynut.com/modarch3.html


    So, my point being, I don't think it is metal, per se, that causes the problems, it is the massive scale and lack of detailing.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Tri-Cities, Washington
    Posts
    9,168
    Blog entries
    2
    I see what everyone is saying regarding massive scale of buildings, not a lot of detailing. Upon talking this topic over with a coworker last friday, we were discussing an auto-parts store that proposed metal, with a couple blank walls and massive scaling. I ha suggested that metal is something we don't like to use, but wth an antiquated Code to back us up (with nothing to govern design standards...) we cannot require the use of something different. I did uggest some architectural features, with the architect bringing me a project with wainscot(sp?), brick columns, a stucco roof accent, and more windows up front. He also added an awning to denote the entrance. We because of the continued use of metal, the design was still appeal to planning commission and now we have massive scaling, blank walls, and the use of stucco... instead of metal. Basically, I am saying that I see people's point here, and that is why I brought this topic to light. Once again the collective minds of Cyburbia come through again.

    Sometime soon I will post images of the neighborhood that my gym is in. Last Friday I signed up after work and was astonished by the EXTENSIVE use of metal, and the poor manner is which it is displayed. Others are elcome to ontinue to weigh in and post pics at their wish.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2004
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    120
    zman, metal ain't that darn cheap, trying buying it, depending on color it can be on avg. twice the cost of reg residential siding.

    Bob

  8. #8
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Tri-Cities, Washington
    Posts
    9,168
    Blog entries
    2
    Quote Originally posted by Glasshouse
    zman, metal ain't that darn cheap, trying buying it, depending on color it can be on avg. twice the cost of reg residential siding.
    Bob
    I can understand that, Bob, but my main emphasis is on the use of metal in non-residential architecture.
    It seems to be the SOP of builders up here to use metal, and I have been told that it is the cheapest for commercial materials, and definetly the most widely (if not most attempted) use of materials around here. \
    Also, depending upon where you live, have you gotten the commercials on TV for metal structures. We get them all the time here. Mainly along the lines of "Have an inexpensive garage on your property in a weekend using durable and easy to maintain metal panels." They leave out that it is not easy on the eyes of neighbors and anal retentive City Planners...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    1,147
    I have very mixed feelings about this. Ultimately, if customers patronize retailers who operate out of ugly, remote, inurbane buildings for the sake of obtaining their shoddy goods fora few cents less, the battle is nearly lost. The planner opposing it is effectively (ab)using government fiat to impose a stnandard that is alien to that of the community he/she should be serving.

    The only "demonstrable" externality arising from the erection of an ugly building is if it lowers the trend-adjusted resale value of adjoining properties. To some extent,, (over)restrictive zoning in the US was precisely meant to address this sort of effect.

    However, one could look at it from teh standpoint of the planner exercising leadership to avoid a spiral to the bottom in the public built realm; the idea here being that if a few 'nice' buildings are erected and people get used to shopping there then they will be reluctant to patronize chicken-sheds.

    I think forbidding unnecessary sprawl (which has much greater/obvious externalities associated with it) would raise (erectable) land values to an extent that would make very cheap and nasty buildings much less liekly and/or accepted by cleints. The downside of taht, of course, would be that people would not get to live in 400 sq.m. abodes. I doubt it's politically achievable.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Israel
    Posts
    5
    The problem is ot with metal per se . The problem is how imaginatively or unimaginatively a metal is used . And also the function it houses . If you as a planner are going to allow a box in your neighbourhood , you will get a box regardless of the finish .

  11. #11

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    I have very mixed feelings about this. Ultimately, if customers patronize retailers who operate out of ugly, remote, inurbane buildings for the sake of obtaining their shoddy goods fora few cents less, the battle is nearly lost. The planner opposing it is effectively (ab)using government fiat to impose a stnandard that is alien to that of the community he/she should be serving.

    The only "demonstrable" externality arising from the erection of an ugly building is if it lowers the trend-adjusted resale value of adjoining properties. To some extent,, (over)restrictive zoning in the US was precisely meant to address this sort of effect.

    However, one could look at it from teh standpoint of the planner exercising leadership to avoid a spiral to the bottom in the public built realm; the idea here being that if a few 'nice' buildings are erected and people get used to shopping there then they will be reluctant to patronize chicken-sheds.

    I think forbidding unnecessary sprawl (which has much greater/obvious externalities associated with it) would raise (erectable) land values to an extent that would make very cheap and nasty buildings much less liekly and/or accepted by cleints. The downside of taht, of course, would be that people would not get to live in 400 sq.m. abodes. I doubt it's politically achievable.
    I think you nail it. Even where the cost diffrence between a bad building and a better one is a negligible percentage of the project, many discount retailers WANT to look cheap as part of their image. At this stage, with three generations of the "National Automotive Slum" under our belts, how much of a constituency or understanding of good design is there in the United States?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Not Cliff Island, Maine :(
    Posts
    589
    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    I have very mixed feelings about this. Ultimately, if customers patronize retailers who operate out of ugly, remote, inurbane buildings for the sake of obtaining their shoddy goods fora few cents less, the battle is nearly lost. The planner opposing it is effectively (ab)using government fiat to impose a stnandard that is alien to that of the community he/she should be serving.

    The only "demonstrable" externality arising from the erection of an ugly building is if it lowers the trend-adjusted resale value of adjoining properties. To some extent,, (over)restrictive zoning in the US was precisely meant to address this sort of effect.
    Ultimately, the planner's responsibility is to respond to the demands of the community. If the community wants new retailers to build to a pedestrian-oriented scale with a higher grade of materials, then I can't see how it could be construed as an abuse of power.

    In my personal experience, ordinances we've put together is pretty much already supported by the community. We don't do alot of speculative ordinance writing, which I think you may be alluding to here. Of course, being in the south, the planning movement is a bit behind, so we don't have alot of opportunity to really do anything that is what planners think is best (i.e. without the whole-hearted endorsement of those in power).

    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    At this stage, with three generations of the "National Automotive Slum" under our belts, how much of a constituency or understanding of good design is there in the United States?
    Fair enough. Some communities have created architectural boards for this purpose. With that being said, as planners, we serve the interests of the community. If the community can't perceive the differences between good and bad design, then we have to take steps to educate the population, or at least the influential population.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Tri-Cities, Washington
    Posts
    9,168
    Blog entries
    2
    Quote Originally posted by Breed
    Ultimately, the planner's responsibility is to respond to the demands of the community. If the community wants new retailers to build to a pedestrian-oriented scale with a higher grade of materials, then I can't see how it could be construed as an abuse of power.
    I think the community likes pedesrian oriented scale construction and such, but they don't clamor for it.
    Basically when someone designs something nice and/or pedestrian oriented, we get a good response fromt he public about it, but normally they are apathetic.

    Something I am sure we all experience...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  14. #14
    Notice what material is used to roof these buildings? It's not the material, it's what you do with it.

    Please don't ban materials.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Not Cliff Island, Maine :(
    Posts
    589
    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Notice what material is used to roof these buildings? It's not the material, it's what you do with it.

    Please don't ban materials.
    Of course, that's not always a choice. When a politician gets it in his head that metal buildings are evil, sometimes that's the only way to get an ordinance done.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Metal building beautification
    Design, Space, and Place
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 05 Oct 2007, 9:52 PM
  2. Metal panel buildings
    Design, Space, and Place
    Replies: 8
    Last post: 04 Dec 2006, 3:42 AM
  3. Metal storefronts
    Design, Space, and Place
    Replies: 1
    Last post: 07 Mar 2006, 5:52 PM
  4. Metal building in commercial districts?
    Design, Space, and Place
    Replies: 21
    Last post: 06 Jan 2005, 5:34 PM