If East Orange can get cool buildings, why can't South Orange?
Although I think the Avenue is actually a good building, but Third+Valley and the Gateway have been disappointments, which are neither cool modern architecture, nor a respectable building in a traditional style.
Well, I don't think that people in SOMa would support 17 and 18 story buildings.
eta: I can only imagine the outcry if it were announced that we were adding over 500 apartments to either town.
I share your interest in and support of densification, however I am concerned that existing street and utility infrastructure cannot handle the increased density.
East Orange has a much more interconnected street grid than South Orange and is essentially re-densifying. South Orange has collector roads, not a grid, and little excess capacity at peak times.
jimmurphy said:Runnerguy,I share your interest in and support of densification, however I am concerned that existing street and utility infrastructure cannot handle the increased density. East Orange has a much more interconnected street grid than South Orange and is essentially re-densifying. South Orange has collector roads, not a grid, and little excess capacity at peak times.Any thoughts?
I think you're both right that SOMA would not accept a 17 storey building anywhere, although it's interesting that 260 Harrison Street is 0.6 miles from Brick Church train station, so it's not really a transit-oriented development like so many controversial developments have been in SOMA. I think East Orange accepts tall buildings because it already has so many dating from the 1920s and there's no shock value in them. East Orange is urban, knows it is urban, and doesn't see that as a bad thing.
But back to the architecture ... a building doesn't have to be 17 storeys to be something better than the stumpy siding+fake stucco buildings that have sprouted in SOMA.
For instance, East Orange's Lotus 315 is more modern and stylish than anything built in SOMA, even if it is the middle of a parking lot.
East Orange would be attractive to a developer because it allows taller buildings, but rents in East Orange are lower than in SOMA, so I think that SOMA could get higher quality architecture if we accepted 5-7 storey buildings and (G-d forbid) saw architecture itself as something that merits a tax abatement.
No argument that nicer looking buildings would be great. They come with expense. The greater concern, which you haven’t really addressed, is that even a 5-7 story building with a lot of units generates a lot of cars which flood the streets.
East Orange, as you say, is urban, with an urban street grid that can handle a lot of cars. South Orange is suburban and already clogged with traffic at peak times. How would we handle the additional traffic and parking needs of these 5-7 story buildings?
Are there built-in assumptions that people will abandon cars in favor of ride-shares or something else? Will train capacity increase somehow? Will we buy properties to further connect the street grid?
Like I said, I am in favor of development and densifying. Sprawl is not the answer. But you can’t densify without considering infrastructure. Density should not come at the expense of quality of life.
Just out of curiosity, are you aware of any similar sized lots in SOMa that would support such development? Such lots with sufficient transportation capacity such as to not disrupt traffic? East Orange is, I believe, much larger and appears to have much greater road capacity within the City.
I think that building is ugly...
Those buildings are also a few blocks from 280 and the parkway. If people move in there, they may not create that much traffic on local roads. As opposed to South Orange where we're more isolated from highway access.
If we're going to get 5-story buildings anyway, why can't they be modernistic and striking? Do we really need more examples of the fake-brick-and-stucco-glued-to-2x4s school of architecture around here?
(I'm sitting here waiting for someone to correct me and point out that those are REAL bricks glued to the 2x4s)
Here it is:
As the downtown is small and the housing style of this community is definitely vintage, I think a very modern structure would be difficult to integrate aesthetically. Yes it would be nice to find builders who used quality materials but as has been pointed out it would come at a price. Also as someone who sold real estate, modern gets dated faster than vintage.
The structures goin up on Valley look boxy-modern
I wonder if East Orange gave them any tax incentives.
FilmCarp said:I wonder if East Orange gave them any tax incentives.
Possible, also possible that the land prices in East Orange are low enough to allow the company to take a risk with the architecture.
Komarovsky said: Possible, also possible that the land prices in East Orange are low enough to allow the company to take a risk with the architecture.
If you can build a lot higher buildings your profit margin will be higher. Developing in South Orange guarantees a high degree of opposition to anything higher than 5 stories or so.
Have had the opportunity to meet the developer in EO, one of the partners in Blackstone.
His vision is pretty focused on 20 something renters. Their rush hour shuttles go to Newark Penn, not Brick church!
I find him, in my opinion, to be singlehandedly remaking South Harrison and very much for the better. I moved there in 2006 and have watched multiple attempts but Blackstone is making it happen.
The Lotus seems more aimed at older renters.
If I'm not mistaken with the building just underway, they will total 5 properties either renovated or new...
I'm not understanding the concept of a town or city "getting" good or "cool" architecture. Great design is important to the developer/owner or it isn't. The architect(s) is willing to dumb the look down, or s/he isn't. Unless it's a public building, the local government and residents don't have much say beyond enforcing guidelines and limits.
apple44 said:I'm not understanding the concept of a town or city "getting" good or "cool" architecture. Great design is important to the developer/owner or it isn't. The architect(s) is willing to dumb the look down, or s/he isn't. Unless it's a public building, the local government and residents don't have much say beyond enforcing guidelines and limits.
Yes, you are right to point this out. The title of this thread and the OP would be better written if it didn't refer to South Orange "getting" architecture. I should have asked "If developers can build cool stuff in East Orange, why can't they in SOMA?"
That being said, what I was hoping to point out to people is that it isn't just big cities where it's possible to build an stylish modern buildings. If developers in East Orange, a city that has lower rents than South Orange, can build buildings with architectural distinction, then it should be possible for them to get buildings like that to "pencil out" in South Orange too.
Although I can't imagine SO allowing a 17 storey building, perhaps if we allowed taller buildings developers would find it worth their while to build more attractive structures here? (And build them sooner instead of sitting on the land for years, but that's a separate topic.)
“Attractive” and “modern” are terms that are very subjective. A building that one may believe is attractive or modern today, may look outdated and ugly in a matter of five years. Architecture changes constantly, which presumably is one reason there is an attempt to reflect the existing “look” of a specific environment. There is a curved apartment building just past the south orange border which was probably considered a gem of residential architecture when built, but which now looks like a museum piece.
Third and Valley was designed by an architect who has won numerous awards. I know some architects who think the building was extremely well designed. As Annielou says, it is very subjective.
And I still feel that building in East Orange is ugly. Plus the new building on Valley street (forget the exact cross street) is a fairly modern design (and I happen to like the look).
mikescott said:Third and Valley was designed by an architect who has won numerous awards. I know some architects who think the building was extremely well designed. As Annielou says, it is very subjective. And I still feel that building in East Orange is ugly. Plus the new building on Valley street (forget the exact cross street) is a fairly modern design (and I happen to like the look).
I agree. As said, it's very subjective. I think the design of 3rd & Valley is thoughtful, it could have ended up much more cookie cutter. Of course, many simply don't like it.
Aside from subjectivity, another problem with demanding good design is that arguably most of the existing commercial buildings in SOMa aren't particularly distinctive or thoughtful from a design perspective. So as much as I am frustrated by the look of most of what it is being built, in fairness much of it is better than what exists near it. At 3rd & Valley, consider the old Pro Pets building, the Valley bank that is there, there are a few houses which are covered with plain aluminum siding and of course a row of auto repair garages. As much as I would love to sit down with a developer and show him/her buildings that I admire and ask that they emulate them, I'd also anticipate their response to be, "Well, most of the buildings I see around here are pretty plain. None of them are winning design awards. So why am I being asked to be held to a higher standard?"
Also, while I'm intrigued by the notion (stated in another post) that larger buildings would perhaps invite better and more creative design, I'm not sure it would. Philly is an example of a place which is seeing many new buildings which are comparatively larger, but many people are not happy with their design.
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