The sketches of East West Partners’ proposed Village Apartments on Elliott Road sparked a rousing and remarkably balanced debate on my Facebook page this week.
Remember you can read and comment on more local news on my page, as well as comment on any of our stories at chapelhillnews.com using a Facebook account (to screen out anonymous rants). Friend me at https://www.facebook.com/mark.schultz.94043
Here’s what some of you said, after we posted the sketches.
Elizabeth Du Bosc: Where are the solar panels? The wastewater recycling and rainwater collection systems? The awnings that could be used to screen out the sun on hot solar summer days? Do those windows open? Why aren’t there more trees? Why is it so close to the road?
Terri Buckner: It’s unfortunate they didn’t learn more about good design from their interaction with Victor Dover on the Obey Creek project. This project is going to completely overwhelm everything around it.
Paul Hrusovsky: I like it, but it could be a bit greener. At least it doesn’t look like the ’70s institutional structure (the redevelopment of University Square) getting ready to be built on West Franklin!
Mark Hubbard: Seven stories isn’t where I’d personally draw the line at seeming “overwhelming.” I’d also counter that close to the road IS part of good design. This area this is going in is a desert of parking lots and terrible strip-mall development. It is a vast improvement over the neighboring stuff. I’m all for perfect projects, but I have a hard time picking at this project given the “lay of the land” so to speak.
Terri Buckner: C’mon, seven stories when everything surrounding it is one story and you don’t call that overwhelming – especially when the seven stories butts right up against the road? I agree that by itself it wouldn’t be so bad, but sites like this don’t exist in a vacuum. They are part of a landscape and this is going to create huge amounts of dissonance, as well as violating the design principle of unity.
Chuck Morton: I would much prefer this type of urban infrastructure to the suburban banality that is sort of present there now. A vast sea of parking lots and one-buildings are a recipe for urban sprawl.
Sally S. K. McIntee: This design looks very ’50s/’60s, and it is boring and unappealing in design. Zero set-back is for retail, not residential, and retail faces should be distinct from each other. The building face does not have much interest for pedestrians. Also, there needs to be full-size shade trees all around the building, streetside, to provide shade, cooling, and a ceiling for pedestrians. This location, BTW, has no pedestrian access from Willow Drive and University Mall except walking along U.S. 15-501, which is not very pleasant. Connectivity is very much lacking.
Fred Black: Amazing isn’t it? People have different reactions and opinions to art and architecture. I’m never shocked around here that so many are so sure about what’s good and what’s bad!
Vicki Vars Boyer: The building design might be nicer if we would allow architects a free range of design, but our public comments are so full of demands that everything new should look like the colonial brick facades of the past that this is what we get. This building will not stick up seven or whatever stories and surrounded by one-story shops for long: the one-story shops will be redeveloped and one day, be just as high. I’m sure all of you read the demographic predictions – by 2050 the entire I-40, I-85 corridor from Raleigh to Charlotte will be a megalopolis – a city-suburb. The population is coming, like it or not. How we house them, supply them with groceries, transportation, parks, playgrounds and schools is something we need to plan for now.
Terri Buckner: But systems don’t work like that. Predicting 30-40 years out is fraught with risk, risking the quality of life in the near term for a highly unpredictable future. I understand planning 10- 20 years out but longer than that is a wasted exercise.
Amanda Ashley: To view various designs from Europe, where innovation is amazing, harmonious, and exciting, makes me weep for the schlock we settle for. A cursory Google search could find a dozen designs/buildings which make obvious the lack of thought which is being fobbed off here as something worth buying.
Mark Schultz is the editor of The Chapel Hill News. You can reach him at 919-932-2003 or firstname.lastname@example.org