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Thread: Corporate architecture combat thread...

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Corporate architecture combat thread...

    Sometimes I think that corporate architecture is getting out of hand.
    Have any of you seen a new Honda dealership?
    How about an old Pizza Hut converted into a discount Mexican or $1 a scoop Chinese buffet? (that darn roof!)

    In the two cities in which I have experience as a planner, I have seen the desire of applicants to maintain corporate image tie up the local planning process, even threaten to move said outlet to the Town Next Doortm! I have mainly seen this with new Wendy's being put it, and the corporate gold/copper roof and we've recently had a hearing for a Chic-fil-a where the applicants flew in a cronie from headquarters just to preserve an obsenely plasticized "Drive-thru canopy" (to protect us in the high plains DESERT from rain) In this case, we conceeded and the canopy was allowed.

    The main argument we get, and probably you yourself, is "that no one will recognize (said establishment) without (said feature that is being argued)" I'm gonna start crying in a minute

    Anyways, do you all have any experiences to match? What about standards? I have seen in regions of the US where corporate outlets have conformed to a local/regional architectural theme (i.e. Santa Fe, Jackson Hole, New England towns). What are your experiences in dealing with this sort of thing?

    DISCLAIMER: Written while consuming first cup of coffee. I apologize if the focus and direction tends to dance around a bit, but the general theme should be there...
    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
    I think they just don't want to pay another architect.

  3. #3
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We have design guidelines, and have been sucessful in getting "better" building design in town. There are plenty of good examples in the gallery section.

    Here's what we have in our regs:

    3.12 BUILDING & GENERAL APPEARANCE DESIGN STANDARDS:
    a. The applicant shall submit a rendering of the proposed building showing front, side and rear view elevations. The building design should be consistent with the character of the Town of Londonderry and sensitive to its natural and man-made surroundings. The design goals of this section are to promote traditional New England style buildings for commercial development; and to encourage high quality building design which improves the aesthetic character of the community. Non-residential buildings are subject to the following design guidelines and standards. In this section, “Standards” are mandatory; “Guidelines” are not mandatory, but are provided in order to educate planners, design consultants, developers and Town staff about the design objectives. These standards and guidelines are to be used in conjunction with the all other sections of these regulations and Town ordinances. Any waiver from a standard in this section must be made in writing, and be supported by justification in accordance with Section 7.04
    b. SCALE AND PROPORTION OF NON-RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS
    1. Guidelines
    i. New buildings should not exceed the average height of existing buildings on abutting property and the general area, however, greater distances between buildings may allow for larger differences in height.
    ii. The window and wall openings of new buildings should be in similar proportions to existing structures when they are in close proximity to the site development.
    2. Standard
    i. Because of their mass and typical design characteristics, large scale retail establishments of greater than 25,000 square feet shall be subject to Section 3.12h.
    c. VERTICAL OR HORIZONTAL EMPHASIS GUIDELINES.
    1. Relate the vertical, horizontal, or non-directional facade characteristics to the predominant directional expression of nearby buildings. This emphasis is created by the arrangement of the structure’s door and window openings.
    2. Door and window openings should be proportional to facade length and height.
    i. All windows and doors should be of a traditional New England character.
    i. Large plate glass windows are discouraged unless they are broken with mullions or muttons.
    ii. Mirrored glass or colored metal panels are not acceptable windows.
    iii. Doorways should be encased with trim.
    3. Foundation walls should not be exposed to more than 3 feet in height from grade.
    d. ROOF FORM
    1. Guidelines:
    i. Roof forms should be of various pitch variety, common to traditional New England Architecture
    ii. Gable, hip roofs, shed, gambrel, mansard style roofs are acceptable. All roofs should have appropriate overhangs.
    iii. Flat roofs should not be completely eliminated from consideration, but should only be built when the size of the building does not permit a pitched roof.
    iv. Shingled roofs constructed of asphalt or wooden shingles are preferred. Standing seam, copper, or metal roofs are acceptable under certain circumstances.
    v. Avoid long unbroken expanses of roofs through the use of dormers, chimneys, and changes in ridgeline.
    vi. Multiple roof plane slopes are acceptable, but should be limited.
    2. Standards:
    i. Roofs shall be constructed of materials which are commonly found in New England.
    ii. All rooftop mechanical/ventilation equipment must be placed in such a manner so that it is not visibly apparent at the nearest street right-of-way. This may be accomplished by using architectural treatment/camouflaging (walls, parapets, false chimneys, etc.) or by other appropriate means.
    e. ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES AND DETAILS GUIDELINES
    1. Any features and details such as balconies, decks, covered porches, columns, dormers, turrets, towers, skylights and arches should be in proportion with the building.
    2. Accurate restoration of existing detail is encouraged, however use of historical details on contemporary structures should be included only when appropriate to the overall design
    f. MATERIALS AND COLORS
    1. Guidelines:
    i. Exteriors of new buildings should utilize materials appropriate for the character of the building. Brick, clapboard, shingles, stone, or architectural concrete block are preferred, and encouraged for wall surfaces.
    ii. Subtle colors should be used on larger and very plain buildings, while smaller buildings with elaborate detailing can use more colors. Colors should reflect traditional New England colors with accenting trim work.
    iii. Colors that are disharmonious with other colors used on the building or found on adjacent structures should be avoided.
    iv. Paint colors should relate to the natural material colors found on the building such as brick, terra-cotta, stone or ceramic tile and existing elements such as signs or awnings.
    v. Contrasting colors, which accent architectural details and entrances, are encouraged.
    2. Standards:
    i. All exterior surfaces visible to the public shall be covered with a siding material and long term maintenance characteristics of all materials should be considered during the selection process.
    ii. Neon tubing shall not be used as a feature, trim, or accent area for buildings.
    iii. The rear and side elevations shall incorporate the materials, design details and theme when exposed to public view.

    g. SIGNAGE: Signs should be visible and legible through the use of appropriate details and proper locations. Allowable sign areas and locations are explained in Section XXI of the Londonderry Zoning Ordinance. The following design guidelines will give examples and methods of adding interest and quality to a building project while enhancing the overall project.
    1. Scale and proportion: Every sign should be an integral, subordinate element within the overall building and site design. The scale and proportion of the signage shall not overpower the building or obscure the building’s architectural features.
    2. Materials: Sign materials should harmonize with the building’s design. A simple and direct message, with upper and lowercase lettering is most effective. A limited number of colors should be used with light colored lettering placed on a matte, dark background which reduces reflected glare.
    3. Illumination: Illumination of signs should be from an indirect light source to reduce glare and ensure attention is focused on the sign. The light should be contained within the sign frame and not spill over onto other portions of the building or site. Internally illuminated signage should provide opaque backgrounds with translucent lettering.
    4. Coordination: All signage within a building complex should be coordinated by using similar materials, lettering, styles, colors, and overall sign sizes to ensure sign continuity and a uniform appearance throughout the development.
    5. Logos and Graphics: Company logos should be incorporated into the overall sign and not become the sign itself.
    h. DESIGN GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS FOR LARGE RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS
    1. The following standards and guidelines are intended to be used as design aid by developers proposing large retail developments and as an evaluation tool by the Town staff and the Planning Board in their review processes. These standards and guidelines apply to all projects for retail establishments of more than 25,000 square feet.
    2. FACADES AND EXTERIOR WALLS
    i. Guidelines:
    a. Facades should be articulated to reduce the massive scale and the uniform, impersonal appearances of large retail buildings and provide visual interest that will be consistent with the community’s identity character, and scale. The intent is to encourage a more human scale that Londonderry residents will be able to identify with their community.
    b. Avoid expanses of wall using jogs, pilasters, architectural detailing, changes in surface materials, colors, textures, and rooflines.
    c. Uninterrupted facades should not exceed 50% of the building wall.
    ii. Standards:
    a. Facades greater than 100 feet in length, measured horizontally, shall incorporate wall plane projections or recesses having a depth of a least 3% of the length of the facade and extending at least 20% of the length of the facade. No uninterrupted length of any facade shall exceed 100 horizontal feet.
    b. Ground floor facades that face public streets shall have arcades, display windows, entry areas, awnings, or other such features along no less than 60% of their horizontal length.
    3. DETAIL FEATURES
    i. Guideline: Buildings should have architectural features and patterns that provide visual interests, at the scale of the pedestrian, reduce massive aesthetic effects, and recognize local character. The elements in the following standard should be integral parts of the building fabric, and not superficially applied trim or graphics, or paint.
    ii. Standard: Building facades must include a repeating pattern that shall include no less than three of the elements listed below. At least one of these elements shall repeat horizontally. All elements shall repeat at intervals of no more than thirty (30) feet, either horizontally or vertically.
    a. Color Change
    b. Texture Change
    c. Material Module Change
    d. Expression of architectural or structural bay through a change in plane no less than 12 inches in width, such as an offset, reveal, or projecting rib.
    4. ROOFS:
    i. Guideline: Variations in roof lines should be used to add interest to, and reduce the massive scale of large buildings. Roof features should compliment the character of adjoining neighborhoods.
    ii. Standard: Roofs shall have no less than 2 of the following features:
    a. Parapets concealing flat roofs and rooftop equipment such as HVAC units from public view. The average height of such parapets shall not exceed 15% of the height of the supporting wall and such parapets shall not at any point exceed one-third of the height of the supporting wall. Such parapets shall feature three-dimensional cornice treatment.
    b. Overhanging eaves, extending no less than 3 feet past the supporting walls.
    c. Sloping roofs that do not exceed the average height of the supporting walls, with an average slope greater than or equal to 1 foot of vertical rise for every 1 foot of horizontal run, and less than or equal to 1 foot of vertical rise for every 1 foot of horizontal run.
    d. Three or more roof slope planes.
    5. MATERIALS AND COLORS
    i. Guideline: Exterior building materials and colors comprise a significant part of the visual impact of a building. Therefore, they should be aesthetically pleasing and compatible with materials and colors used in adjoining neighborhoods.
    ii. Standards:
    a. Predominant exterior building materials shall be high quality materials. These include, without limitation: Brick, wood, granite sandstone, other native stone, tinted/textured concrete masonry units.
    b. Facade colors shall be low reflectance, subtle, neutral, or earth tone colors. The use of high intensity colors, metallic colors, black or fluorescent colors is prohibited.
    c. Building trim and accent areas may feature brighter colors, including primary colors, but neon tubing shall not be an acceptable feature for building trim or accent areas.
    d. Predominant exterior building materials shall not include the following: smooth faced concrete block, tilt-up concrete panels, pre-fabricated steel panels.
    6. ENTRYWAYS
    i. Guideline: Entryway design elements and variations should give orientation and aesthetically pleasing character to the building. The standards identify desirable entryway design features.
    ii. Standard: Each principal building on a site shall have clearly defined, highly visible customer entrances featuring no less than three of the following:
    a. canopies or porticos
    b. overhangs
    c. recesses/projections
    d. arcades
    e. raised corniced parapets over the door
    f. peaked roof forms
    g. arches
    h. outdoor patios
    i. display windows
    j. architectural details such as tile work and moldings which are integrated into the building structure and design
    k. integral planters or wing walls that incorporate landscaped areas and/or places for sitting
    7. BACK AND SIDE FACADES
    i. Guideline: All facades of a building which are visible from adjoining properties and/or public streets should contribute to the pleasing scale features of the building and encourage community integration by featuring characteristics similar to the front facade.
    ii. Standard: All building facades, which are visible from adjoining properties and/or public streets, shall comply with the requirements of Section 3.12h, item 2, above.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    I think they just don't want to pay another architect.
    No, it really is not that. Corporations want to create a brand identity so that customers may easily recognize them. There is a given set of expectations that the customer associates with the chain, and a uniform appearance reinforces these. It is all part of a strategy to increase sales, which is why they are in business, after all. Planners, and sometimes our communities, tend not to want to allow these sorts of buildings. (Ironically, after a time, we then want to preserve them as historic structures.) Sometimes chains or franchises can bend their requirements. This is often the case where the numbers are strong enough to justify the store, even when it deviates from the norm.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    We have a Design Planner, Design Commission, and associated Design Guidelines that review all new commercial developments. The guidelines talk about detailing, amssing, transparency, and durable, quality materials (ie brick instead of dry-vit).

    We are not wholesale opposed to standard corporate architecture, but we are pretty tough on over-the-top designs, and shoddy finish materials.

    Plus, we are a desireable community, so we have more leverage than others.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    There is an issue of fairness involved with corporate architecture. When McDonalds presents a bright red roof ask yourself if this would be allowed if it was Joe Local Burger Joint proposing a red roof. In many cases Joe would be laughed out of town even though he's got a fraction of the resources.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    We tried to get Home Depot to comply with our designs standards but they opted for the variance/ "get political" route. They told planning staff that they only do alternative designs for higher-income areas.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Huh?

    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    We have design guidelines, and have been sucessful in getting "better" building design in town. There are plenty of good examples in the gallery section.

    Here's what we have in our regs:

    3.12 BUILDING & GENERAL APPEARANCE DESIGN STANDARDS:
    <snipped for thread clarity>

    Regulation of Architecture and appearances......this is a joke right?.....

    The One settling in to his new Western USA rural planning job
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 15 Mar 2006 at 10:43 AM.
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    No, it really is not that. Corporations want to create a brand identity so that customers may easily recognize them. There is a given set of expectations that the customer associates with the chain, and a uniform appearance reinforces these. It is all part of a strategy to increase sales, which is why they are in business, after all. Planners, and sometimes our communities, tend not to want to allow these sorts of buildings. (Ironically, after a time, we then want to preserve them as historic structures.) Sometimes chains or franchises can bend their requirements. This is often the case where the numbers are strong enough to justify the store, even when it deviates from the norm.
    There are many ways brand identity is applied. Chain restaurants have no problem setting up shop in long-standing buildings while retaining a perfectly recognizable image. Even in new buildings, like shopping malls, the brand must bend to the regulation of the mall.

    Your McD could be this:

  10. #10
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Your McD could be this....
    Or this

    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  11. #11

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    But what if:

    1. is no existing pre-modern buildings to convert;

    2. no government to insist that McD's not simply demolish the Freeport Maine??? example and replace it with plastic crap?

    3. There are no local building traditions anymore, because we have nationalized development companies building themed environments that are as corporate as the McD's?

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    But what if:

    1. is no existing pre-modern buildings to convert;

    2. no government to insist that McD's not simply demolish the Freeport Maine??? example and replace it with plastic crap?

    3. There are no local building traditions anymore, because we have nationalized development companies building themed environments that are as corporate as the McD's?
    Then there is no plan for the town, and that is the failure of the owner of the town.

  13. #13
    Cyburbia Administrator
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    Anyways, do you all have any experiences to match? What about standards?
    Most Denver suburbs, except Wheat Ridge, Federal Heights and a couple of others, have very strict architectural standards. There's plenty of examples of non-prototype chain architecture in the Denver area; in fact, it's the norm for development in most areas, not the exception.

    My response to the developers that say "your city's not wealthy enough for a nice design" is "You're saying that because the residents of my community aren't wealthy, they're not deserving of an attractive building, and they're not sophisticated enough to appreciate nice architecture?" The ROI on a Home Depot will be about the same whether it's in rich Douglas County or RUGGED! Weld County. The only difference is that the poorer community will be more firghtened of scaring off the chain, so they're less likely to implement or enforce architectural regulations. Trust me; threats of "We'll go to [Community X] if you don't let us do what we want to do!" are mostly hot air.

    Most appearance codes I've seen don't ban corporate architecture, but rather require minimum quality standards; a certain percentage of high-quality masonry materials (integrally colored brick, stone, etc), no long blank walls, hiding rooftop mechanical equipment, minimum transparency, limiting primary colors to a very limited area, and so on. If a corporate prototype already meets those standards -- Don Pablo's and Chili's are a couple that come to mind -- there shouldn't be any adjustment. If Wal-Mart wants to build a grey battleship, too bad for them. A good appearance code doesn't say Don Pablo's can't look like a Don Pablo's, but rather that it just has to look NICE.

    I wonder if other countries are facing the same issue. I've noticed that in Ontario suburban communities, corporate architecture is a big problem, but I've heard little about regulating it.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    I wonder if other countries are facing the same issue. I've noticed that in Ontario suburban communities, corporate architecture is a big problem, but I've heard little about regulating it.
    Yes it is. We've been promised the nicest wal~mart in all of Canada. I'll post pics once its built.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  15. #15
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    RUGGED! Weld County.
    Nice props for place of residence, Dano.

    Trust me; threats of "We'll go to [Community X] if you don't let us do what we want to do!" are mostly hot air.
    I have always said in the case of the above statement that the said company will still build in the area. This seems to be a "boilerplate" threat, especially for up and coming communities in which I work and have worked. If the market is in Community X, then they will still build it. I know of a specific case in which a corporation threathened this, only to build their structure to exact City Code architecture standards.
    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

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Then there is no plan for the town, and that is the failure of the owner of the town.

    Ah. The "owner of the town." In your libertarian paradise (and anyone who continuously quotes Mises Institute and Lew Rockwell is most certainly a "libertarian" despite your protestations), the town will not be a commonwealth controlled through a local, democratic government but will be a corporate creature "owned" by somebody or some organization.

    No thanks. Feudalism wasn't that much fun.

  17. #17
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One
    Regulation of Architecture and appearances......this is a joke right?.....

    The One settling in to his new Western USA rural planning job
    No joke. Was implemented in 2001 as part of a comprehensive re-write of our site plan regulations. Works very well.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  18. #18
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    We have a Design Planner, Design Commission, and associated Design Guidelines that review all new commercial developments. The guidelines talk about detailing, amssing, transparency, and durable, quality materials (ie brick instead of dry-vit).

    We are not wholesale opposed to standard corporate architecture, but we are pretty tough on over-the-top designs, and shoddy finish materials.

    Plus, we are a desireable community, so we have more leverage than others.
    We've got kind of the same thing here, though we don't have real strong architectural standards. The nice thing is that most of the "usual suspects" for causing problems with their architectural design end up in the special use process anyway. Our last two commercial areas have done very well on their design and it is beginning to reach a point out here that there is a bit of peer pressure to do good quality work.

    Anytime I'm contacted by a rep for one of these chains, I immediately go to the resource directory here or google to find an example of an enhanced design the chain has used elsewhere. I figure by doing that they can no longer use the "I don't want to pay an architect more" arguement or the "we never deviate from our corporate identity" arguement. It seems to work fairly well.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  19. #19
    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
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    Check this out...

    I don't know if anybody has shared this site:

    www.notfoolinganybody.com

  20. #20
    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Ah. The "owner of the town." In your libertarian paradise (and anyone who continuously quotes Mises Institute and Lew Rockwell is most certainly a "libertarian" despite your protestations), the town will not be a commonwealth controlled through a local, democratic government but will be a corporate creature "owned" by somebody or some organization.

    No thanks. Feudalism wasn't that much fun.
    If the owner of the town is a local, democratic government, and it can't run the town properly, that is still the failure of the owner.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TOFB
    I don't know if anybody has shared this site:

    www.notfoolinganybody.com
    Thank you for that informative and stimulating cap to the day.

    Really attests to the corporate/consumerist attitude of the entire country (and even into Canada) that we allow this. While the nation and world may be getting smaller through media and corporate greed, this sort of thing allows the raping of regional and town identity to continue unfettered. It's about civic pride.
    I'll bet you could sack me up, throw me in the trunk of a large American sedan and drop me off in a similar sized town two states over and I probably wouldn't feel I was in a different place. (Except the humidity might tip me off. )
    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

  22. #22
    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
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    "Thank you for that informative and stimulating cap to the day."

    I first read "crap" to the day. That too.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    Thank you for that informative and stimulating cap to the day.

    Really attests to the corporate/consumerist attitude of the entire country (and even into Canada) that we allow this. While the nation and world may be getting smaller through media and corporate greed, this sort of thing allows the raping of regional and town identity to continue unfettered. It's about civic pride.
    I'll bet you could sack me up, throw me in the trunk of a large American sedan and drop me off in a similar sized town two states over and I probably wouldn't feel I was in a different place. (Except the humidity might tip me off. )
    I don't know that these are the end of the wrold. I see this as inevitable evolution. Small businesses can't afford a brand new fancy building. They take on the detritus of their corporate competitors. It isn't pretty, but then do you expect the built environment to be pretty in a culture that values expediency, cheapness, branding and marketing, and quick turnover in buildings?

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Re the 'nobody's fooled' website; I'm not impressed.

    A lot of work, it looks like, to do what? Celebrate the crappiness of strip mall roads? I thought that whole sarcasm / 'let's enjoy how crappy stuff is' went out with 'generation X' / college-student-goatees-to-hide-the-pimples in the 1990s.

    Give me an ideologue like Jaws or a rabble-rouser like JordanAB any day. At least they care.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Re the 'nobody's fooled' website; I'm not impressed.

    A lot of work, it looks like, to do what? Celebrate the crappiness of strip mall roads? I thought that whole sarcasm / 'let's enjoy how crappy stuff is' went out with 'generation X' / college-student-goatees-to-hide-the-pimples in the 1990s.

    Give me an ideologue like Jaws or a rabble-rouser like JordanAB any day. At least they care.
    What do you think about the "dead malls" site? That site is a little more poignant than this one. Still, the Internet allows you to do anything at relatively little cost.

    I sorta agree with you though, why waste time celebrating the detritus of modern consumer society and building?

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