Street Walls

I’m the kind of guy who gets excited about street walls. Like the beaut shown above, newly formed by the Trace Condo building along the east side of 12th Ave between Pike and Union on Capitol Hill. At six stories, it’s just the right scale to give a medium-width street like 12th Ave a nice sense of enclosure. European cities such as Paris are full of extended street walls like this. There’s something primitively satisfying about the feeling you get in these spaces — outside, yet inside and protected.

The image above is along Eastlake Ave just south of the University Bridge, and here we have a street wall that’s four stories instead of six. And that’s not tall enough relative to the street width to provide a good sense of enclosure. Apparently this part of Eastlake Ave is in a 40 foot zone. Which begs the question: why not 65 feet? The buildings along this side of the block are practically underneath I-5. What better place to put taller buildings? Perhaps the reason for the 40-foot height limit has something to do with this:

This insane thing, known as the Coronado Apartments, is six stories and just a block south of the building shown in the previous photo. I suspect it wasn’t such a popular building with the neighbors, and steps were taken to make sure another one like it couldn’t be built.

Below is another look. Even though it’s six stories tall, a proper street wall it fails to form, because of the setbacks at the street and at the fourth floor.

There are so many wacked out features of this building, I want to nominate it for historic preservation. By gosh there’s even a swimming pool behind that cedar fence.