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Stuff, it's more important that Peeple! Agree w @5
For crissakes, you have to be kidding that you think that is a good looking building.
As pointed out above, the building is a design disaster -- and how the hell that monstrosity made it through Design Review is a testament to how mismanaged by DPD that program is. Clearly the DR Board that looked at that project is incompetent or at a minimum just doesn't give a shit about the urban environs they are creating for poor people in the "most racially diverse zipcode in the US".
And simply this project is the worst form of "urban" usage one could envisage for an area that perhaps could be a real urban hub. And that shit should have been the theme for Charles opine - not the design of the building.
So instead, where the City has targeted density and "urbanism", we instead build a paean to excess consumerism, hording and tiny houses. (which also shows how screwed up the land use code is and just how whack the unfettered-development/no-zoning-rules mantra spewed by the likes of "Smart" Growth Seattle really is, since this stupid idea is a great free-market idea to them).
But what the heck, maybe Charles will be the next ex-Stranger writer so we don't have to be subjected to such a steady stream of ridiculous pontification...
I suppose the developers looked at existing storage unit buildings and thought that's how they're supposed to look. Which, I agree, is nicer than your average newer residential building.
As far as aesthetics, I think one of the reasons why so many of the buildings are boring is because they all look similar. They look similar in part because of our restrictive zoning. If we only allow six story buildings (through a combination of height and FAR limits) along with extensive reviews, you are going to get lots of very similar (and thus boring) buildings. There are exceptions of course (a few in the Cascade neighborhood come to mind) but in general, this explains some of the ugliness.
I think that with the uptick in crime, there is a huge loss having a building with no people in it. It could be anywhere, accept that this semi-urban street with so much opportunity for pedestrian interaction. In a way it may as well be a wall, because it does not interact with the street or the people - the fake windows are almost a joke. I am not a city planner, but I believe the best place for a storage building is not in a interactive pedestrian zone, but in an industrial area. If the developer had intended that eyes on the street was important, they might have at least added retail at street level.
It is interesting to qualify this building as "much better than the apartments and townhouses that surround it" because of it's use, I really don't consider it architecture - it does not house people or serve them in any way other than to provide a place to store stuff. It does not need to address the street, with windows or balconies. I do agree that it helps provide a nice arrangement of massing shapes along the street, but only in contrast to a vacant lot on a major arterial highway. This area is not in a suburban car dominated shopping mall zone. The backs of Big box architecture does the same thing to the street - cut's it off from access and view.
It turns its back on the apartments and townhouses that surround it and the street, lipstick on a pig comes to mind (no offense intended to livestock). I certainly don't necessarily like the design of the townhouses that surround it, but they do provide much needed eyes on the street as well as housing. Along with this there are retail opportunities for small business which is very important for safety, creates activities, provides light on the sidewalks, promotes trees and pedestrian comfort zones and most of all they are architecture - they house and protect people from the elements . . . not just their stuff. Do we really need more places for our stuff anyway?
Also, one of the awful things about the current Seattle development boom is that building all this stuff all at the same time means that twenty years from now we are going to be stuck with a ton of buildings that all reflect what people thought was cool in 2014.