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architecture, Design, Failure, Opinion

Unacceptable Architecture; What the Window!?

I went for a walk last evening with my fiancé, and fellow designer friend, Lauren. We were heading out to get some exercise and to explore the site of a large fire that took place over the weekend. As usually happens on these sorts of excursions, we ended up getting into a full-on critique of the built environment here in Indianapolis. I find it rather disappointing that Indianapolis architecture generally seems to fall into two camps acceptable and unacceptable, the categories such as “standout” or “exemplary” are largely unfulfilled. Today I’d like to share one of the unacceptable ones.

The building that burned down was part of a large affordable housing development. Portions of the development are already occupied but $3,500,000 of unoccupied apartments burned down this past Friday, (Indy Star article here). We started off by checking out the utter destruction wrought by the flames.

The plume of smoke rose so tall that even people in the burbs could see it. It reduced a majority of the building to piles of ash, this was one of the more intact areas.

While that was interesting, we ended up getting distracted by several disappointments presented by the completed portions.  While I know a lot of money was poured into it, it seems that a number of items didn’t make the budget, the main item being the windows.

I would argue that the amount of glazing shown in this rendering is already on the low side. But I can deal with it, it is affordable housing after all.

Acceptable (barely) amounts of glazing.

But when you turn around and look at the real thing, which is under-construction, you see that what was already under-sized has been shrunken down to mere porthole dimensions.

Appalling amounts of glazing. (Also notice the switch from lovely planters to ugly meter bays.)

The end product appears to be nicely composed with good overall proportions. But once you add the windows in it is just destroyed. The relationship between bay sizes and window sizes is just laughable. The finished construction proves that almost everything stayed true to the rendering, but why not the windows? I understand that it was likely a product of budget cuts, but why wouldn’t you cut out a hundred other things before you cut out the windows? It cheapens the project irreconcilably.

Another example of the despicable lack of glazing.

The parking garage gets more glazing than all the floors above it combined. I hope your cars are happy, because you won’t be.

You perhaps could have nixed the full storefront glazing on the parking garage. An engaging storefront isn’t required here, even if it was, I’m not sure this would make the cut anyway. I’m sure it is just a matter of time before someone makes the old Drive vs. Reverse mistake and barrels on through there. Oh wait…

Perhaps fancy store fronts weren’t a good idea for the parking garage after all. Just because you can see through it doesn’t mean you can drive through it.

A ways down the road is another apartment complex, The Braxton, being built by the same developer, again as affordable housing. This project appears to have used the exact windows that were shown in the rendering for 16 Park.

This project appears to have used the exact windows indicated in 16 Park’s renderings.

It too appears to have been constructed true to its renderings. Too bad the budget overlords couldn’t have favored 16 Park as well.

I’m not sure there is much of a thesis to this post, I just came across some unacceptable architecture and I felt I had to share. I could go on and on forever, but I shouldn’t. Please share comments or thoughts of your own. I’d love to hear if someone thinks those windows are large enough, I will challenge you to a duel.

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About bjmcghee

Architect in training.

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