We Need More Cutting Edge Boring Stuff

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There is some excellent work being done by architects working on modest scaled buildings.  This work has a lot of merit, but will not bring much glory or acclaim to the Architects producing it.  Firms like Union Studio and small shops like Rob Sharp, Tim Busse , Gary Justiss, and Eric Brown. The building above by Eric Brown is an example of a building that does a lot of small things well and the overall effect is worth your attention.

  • Heavier materials (stucco) on the bottom, lighter on the top.
  • Smaller openings in the stucco walls than the upper story.
  • Balconies that are supported by sturdy brackets, and do not require you to wonder about the cleverness of the structural engineer.
  • Deep roof overhangs at the eave and on the balconies.
  • Shutters that are sized correctly for their openings (-shutters that actually shut).

This is a well-behaved background building, delivering rental apartments in a dignified manner.  Some folks may think that this a boring building that lacks the pizazz and flash necessary to make Eric Brown a famous Architect.  I think it is rare enough to see the the elements listed above actually delivered competently in a boring apartment building, that the Architects who can do it are on the cutting edge of building and rebuilding places worth caring about.

We really do need more cutting edge boring stuff.

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3 thoughts on “We Need More Cutting Edge Boring Stuff

  1. Gary Justiss April 11, 2015 / 8:21 pm

    It’s a bit sad that our culture tags a building that does its job well, simply and elegantly as boring. Well said bad John and well done Eric!

    • rjohnanderson April 11, 2015 / 9:30 pm

      I think this kind of building is awesome. If other folks think it boring, that really is their loss. I think we can and should build a lot of this sort of thing under the radar. Better to have excellent buildings than Frank Gehry notoriety.

  2. Tim Busse April 11, 2015 / 10:16 pm

    What makes this ‘boring’ is what you can’t see. Places to build like this without overly prescriptive architectural guidelines, bloated parking requirements and a need for architectural expression comprehensible at 40 mph are rare at best in most places. Without thoughtful community design that slows traffic and makes walking feasible, or even enjoyable, simply good buildings look out of place. Architects commissioned to design a single building can improve their communities, but rarely overcome the auto-dominated building sites available these days. A return to fundamentals like properly proportioned sidewalks, buildings with clearly delineated fronts and backs and discernible building entrys and seems long overdue.

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