Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bike Ride

'Twas a beautiful weekend here in Seattle and I spent part of Memorial Day on my bicycle. My ride took me from Capitol Hill through Eastlake, across the University Bridge, along the Burke Gilman trail to the Ballard locks, across into Magnolia and to the waterfront trail, past the sculpture park, into downtown and back home. I brought my camera but only took a few photos, three of which I'll be sharing here.

The first is a house (or maybe duplex?) on Lakeview Boulevard, a few blocks away from the historic Egan House. While the latter is celebrated as a Modernist Northwest gem, this structure seems to be the bastard child of a suburban faux craftsman McMansion and the Bauhaus Dessau. Assuming that the freeway immediately in front of the house is out of view from inside, Lake Union and Queen Anne look beautiful from this vantage point. However, I can't get over the fact that the freeway noise is deafening, the air toxic (don't open those windows), and that completely exposed western-facing windows sound like a recipe for lots of air conditioning.

Next up is the real-life manifestation of the development surrounding Aunt Esther's house from August Wilson's play, Radio Golf. In the play, the house has a history dating back to the arrival of African slaves; in Seattle, the house belonged to one Edith Macefield and is now surrounded by the Ballard Blocks (which, as I understand it, is a parking garage and retail development with no housing...in other words, a strip mall). Per the Clark Design Group's website, the project is/was pursuing LEED CS Silver, which is commendable, though I can't help but wonder how Trader Joe's penchant for excessive packaging should affect this certification. I believe the plan for the pit in the foreground was to construct housing but, as you can see, it is now a sort of detention pond/graffiti studio.

Lastly, we come to the corner of Terry and Howell in the Denny Triangle neighborhood of Seattle. The squat Brutalist building on the right has come to my attention after speaking to a few renegade architects whom I met after starting up my other site. They pointed out that this building was designed by a celebrated NW architecture firm and even won an AIA award in 1964. It is obviously dated, is vacant, and was slated for demolition to construct a condo tower, but I wonder why DOCOMOMO isn't getting involved in preserving it, now that its demise has at least been postponed? We (the architects and I) have been talking about some interventions to perhaps draw attention to this strangely attractive (now that I really look at it) gem and propose some modifications to it. I see a sort of Ken Yeang-ish affair with lots of plants on the newly constructed balconies.

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