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Archive for July, 2009

The Seattle Bubble just ran an article about the apartment complex I ranted about earlier in “A place to live?“.

The story of Northshore Townhomes is a classic tale of bubble mania. The 6-acre parcel was purchased in 2002 for $1 million by well-known local developer Mike Mastro (via an LLC), but development did not begin in earnest until 2006, in the midst of the real estate frenzy (condo prices were up over 24% year-over-year in November).

Now, Kenmore is nice, but it’s not exactly near the top of most people’s lists when they are thinking about where they want to live around Seattle. Is Kenmore really the best market in which to build 86 new townhomes priced $280,000 to $400,000, with a feature list that includes “the finest finishes throughout” and “chic cabanas with table, bar, and rollout lounges”? And even if Kenmore is a good place for such a development, does it make sense to put it half a block from a major auction house? Obviously not, but during the bubble everything was being snatched up with bidding wars as soon as it came on the market, so in the mind of developers it was probably a no-lose proposition.

Read the full article at Northshore Townhomes: A Case Study in Bubble Mania Development.

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Yesterday on KUOW’s Weekday program, Thomas Sieverts and host, Steve Scher,

Northland Shopping Center – overgrown parking lot and neon sign. Photo by Lost Tulsa.

Northland Shopping Center – overgrown parking lot and neon sign. Photo by Lost Tulsa.

 talked about the Zwischenstadt, or intermediate city/sprawl/in-between places that exist in communities. They’re a mix or the city and country, the natural and man–made. And they are a growing trend in many places. 

“[As an architect,] I was taught to make a place functional. In the future, we must learn simply to build a place. A place as open to different functions as possible–a place whose use can change while maintaining its architectural qualities. Experience shows us that the beautiful building is the longest lasting, not the most functional.”

 –Thomas Sieverts

Zwischenstadt means sprawl: the patchwork proximity of unconnected and highly disparate elements which vary in function, scale and use. It describes the hotch-potch on the margins of the metropolitan landscape – shopping centres alongside family homes next to a motorway, for example – but it also denotes a more general structure which is “undermining” the historical norms of city life. In historical terms, the Zwischenstadt is a newcomer, an interim stage in the transition to an uncertain future.

To learn more, listen to the KUOW.org podcast:

Hi quality

Lo quality

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