Belltown Preference Survey

Choose one:

The new Belltown…

or the old Belltown…

20 Responses to “Belltown Preference Survey”

  1. Julie Blaine

    Say what – Belltown Court represents the NEW Belltown? That project has been saran wrapped three times and is 14 years old and counting already, dude! You have a point though, EIFS [fake, plastic stucco] and big blocky bulky buildings lack the human scale of the older, often funky brick ones.

  2. jpf

    Which one is denser?

  3. dorian gray

    Washer and Dryers in-unit. Dishwashers. Parking spaces. Wiring capable of handling modern electronics. Balconies in lieu of fire escapes. Hmmm. You have so many valid points.

  4. Greg

    Denser? Or dumber?

  5. Steve

    I like most of what you’ve posted here, Dan, but this is obviously a troll post. The pictures shown are on different scales, focus on different features of the building and generally aren’t really comparable.

  6. Andrew

    Sadly, no one can afford to build fancy brick buildings anymore.

    But, that building at the top is actually okay:

    1) Small storefronts that keep the street space interesting
    2) No obvious and destruction parking gargage entrances.
    3) Balconies that could create interactions with the streets. If they were set back more, they might work better.

  7. Dan Staley

    My dot goes on the bottom. Top = boo-oo-ring. Yawn. And both second stories need a few feet setback for tree canopy, sez the green infrastructure guy.

  8. Gwen

    I too, am not sure what we’re being asked to compare. I happen to love Belltown Court’s layout (#2). It encompasses an entire city block, has parking access from the alley, a mix of uses, and a lovely courtyard in the center on the second level. I have read that this form of design is the most efficient use of land, and no unit has to look at another building only 10 feet away.

    As for the building materials, sure brick has more appeal, and those arched windows sure are sweet. I’d be interested in hearing specifically what others think could have been done differently to make the top one more aesthetically appealing.

  9. danb

    Steve, what can I say?  This was a spur of the moment post late last night. 

    I’m not saying one is necessarily better than the other — honest! They’re obviously very different in many ways. What strikes me is how different the mood/feel is between the two, and how Belltown has changed so rapidly from the former to the latter. I will say that I think the old Belltown has more more of a human quality, more soul, if you will.

  10. Brent

    Just to point out, the old Belltown also included lots of surface parking lots and undistinguished 50’s-60’s two story office buildings. Relatively few brick buildings that people swoon over were sacrificed for the modern Belltown. (Although in the case of Belltown Court, one was). Mosler Lofts replaced a two story 50’s office building. Avenue One replaced a surface lot at First and Clay. The Parc replaced a surface lot and a 60’s two story office building. I could go on. It blows my mind how people hate all the new condos as if they “ruined” Belltown, as if parking lots and under utilized land right by downtown was worth “saving.”

    The Denny Regrade was meant to spread downtown northward, but it was largely a failure for many decades. There was a burst of apartment construction in the 20’s, which are the brick buildings loved by traditionalists. Then not much happened development wise until the 1980’s. I agree that the architecture of much of the newer Belltown buildings is sorely lacking, but the increased density and busy street life has been a big success for Seattle. I will also note that Belltown has been largely receptive of new development, unlike other parts of Seattle.

    One last thing, the retail component of Belltown Court is very successful and beloved in the neighborhood. The retail spaces host a number of popular, well regarded local shops and restaurants. Mmmm…Macrina Bakery.

  11. Brian

    Human quality? Soul? Let’s just call it Detail.

    Bricks are small, have individual textures – each one is different. Light and shadows change by the hour. Your eye is pulled up, down, left, right by the contrast. Our eyes are drawn to contrast.

    By comparison, the “Stucco” splattered across Belltown shown is planar and is texturally uniform (unless your nose is touching it). Minimal to no shadows or dappled light. Of course it’s boring. Imagine those older brick buildings re-surfaced in Dryvit.

    And great retail does not require great architecture to succeed. Although we know what material we experience on the building as we walk out of Macrina, right?

    Beauty can be skin deep.

  12. The Devils and Details of Belltown | hugeasscity

    [...] I like it. Because, unlike Belltown Court (see previous post), there is life and vision in its design, from the massing and form, down to the detailing. [...]

  13. Matt the Engineer

    If your only requirement is brick facade, it’s not terribly expensive to add to a project. Nobody lays bricks anymore, you just order sheets of the stuff and bolt it to the structure (well, it’s more complicated than that, but not much). Such as the 1st floor of the Uptown Safeway. It’s still not the most interesting structure, but you can specify all kinds of brick effects when you order a sheet of brick facade.

  14. Matt the Engineer

    (forgot to include a link to sample options)

  15. danb

    MTE, it’s not just about brick. Quality design and detailing can be done with just about any materials, e.g. even hardie panel, or relatively cheap metal siding, like on Site 17.

    The base of the Uptown Safeway and countless other new mixed use buildings in Seattle are brick, but usually the brick is relatively sterile and doesn’t have nearly as much subtle detail as the old buildings. In many cases, brick is chosen to respect the historic context of the older buildings (or some such nonsense) but it just ends up looking like a cheap knockoff, which it is.

  16. Chris M.

    I grew up in the apartment building featured in the bottom picture (In fact in the unit to the left of the balcony. I also would play with my toy cars on that very balcony).

    It’s quite beautiful but needs a serious re-do of the plumbing and electrical systems. It also has a courtyard that’s accessible from inside the building, but it wasn’t maintained at all and was infested with pests.

  17. Old vs. New | hugeasscity

    [...] These differences may seem subtle, and they certainly don’t apply universally to new and old, but I see them as reflections of a society that is losing its sense of community. And it’s this same lack of connection with the community that is at the root of why so many newer buildings seem to lack the sole and pride found in older buildings. [...]

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