Design Review Board Has Turned Seattle Into an Architectural Wasteland

Comments

1
I just have to note that not all Design Review Board's are created equal. I get that you want MORE MORE MORE at any cost (let alone the fact that almost all this housing is luxury, and not affordable to 53% of the city (thanks, Gene). But the DRB's in some neighborhoods are local citizens desperately trying to keep luxury shit out of their neighborhood and community resources in it, the ID Review Board as an excellent example. The power of a Board to make changes rests pretty much in the money and power of the individuals on the Boards, which is why projects the Cap Hill Transit development gets waylaid for dumb reasons and the crap in Ballard is hideous, and the ID Board is near toothless.
2
yes, but what about the beacon hill library, charles? we haven't heard you rant about that one in far too long!
3
That corner is not the center of Ballard but it is ugly.
5
@1 The C-ID generally speaking is exempt from the Design Review Board process that Charles describes because it is a designated Historic District which is subject to the oversight of the International Special Review District Board.

http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/pro…

The ISDRB's efforts to acknowledge the racist history of covenants and redlining in the C-ID, and to preserve affordability and culture for the people and communities of the ID, is not in the same league as the gratuitous nit-picking that is delaying the creation of hundreds or thousands of new housing units, making the remaining housing more expensive for EVERYONE from tech bros to immigrants and refugees to long-time Seattleites.

Holding up the construction of over 160 below-market-rate apartments over paint color, when there are an estimated 5500 people sleeping unsheltered every night, is tone-deaf at best and unconscionable at worst.
6
Not only are almost all of the new residential buildings bland, but they'll be lucky to last 30 years. Nearly every one is built with a concrete foundation & cheap wood-frame construction above ...ughhhh! Contrast this to Barcelona, which is such a joy to wander & marvel at the incredible architecture—buildings that have not only survived for hundreds of years, but are beautiful & even mind-blowing.
7
@4 Unfortunately you'd likely never be able to build a classic beauty like the Arctic today due to all the zoning and design requirements for setbacks, limits on Floor Area Ratio, the need for some "street-level amenity" like a courtyard or plaza, etc.
8
@7, and those walrus heads on the façade are a seismic risk.
9
@4, 7: that's not the reason. it's because glazed terra cotta tile (or brick) is expensive.

@6: cost drives the materials and construction type. 5/1 (type 5 const over type 1 const) is the least expensive way to get to 6 stories. are you proposing steel or concrete frames instead?
11
How the gawd-awful building at the corner of Market and 15th NW got through the design review process without any objection is a mystery to me. What could they have been thinking?

True it is not the center of Ballard but could be viewed as a gateway to Ballard. Embarrassing :-(
12
Wow, even Howard Kunstler's notorious "Eyesore of the Month" blog rips into Seattle just this past August. Target? The broken-ground but not-yet-built "Nexus" building across from the Rebar. Oof.
13
I'm more offended at the car sewer intersection in front of it than the the building. 15th Ave is terrible.
14
hole crap does no one bike or walk? that dumb stupid building could have a big fisherman's cap right on top! that is what it would have if i were on the board. i don't need a damn robot to get where i'm going in ballard, i don't get greeted by a damn hatless building either.
15
also mudede getting off on the person he killed again amd again is ficking sick, he should be fired, or exiled to marysville which is actually pretty in a lot of places and he could shoot all the dumb takes he has off there instead.
16
"As a person who makes movies"- bwahhhahahhaaa!!!! Two shite films and you're out there begging for money, with lindy west, for a third.
17
Charles "I Like Crap Architecture" Mudede weighing in? Dude, EVERY thing you produce is shite, and this article is more of the same.

Francis7 nailed it, but didn't include your inane, incoherent politics and crap reportage.
18
I completely disagree with your premise and that of Mr Sightline - Design Review Boards are constrained by two things 1. Horrible design guidelines 2. Mostly awful architecture/development teams. While I agree that a paid professional board would be an improvement what would really be great is visiting architects involved in crits with a smaller community board for input put into the mix. I go to a lot of east DRB meetings and its the same developers with the same architects partnering up for more than their fair share of looting and pillaging in any given neighborhood. The best architecture firms in the city rarely touch neighborhood commercial or townhouse projects instead these projects are left to a handful of schemers repeating the same design over and over again. The Design Review Board can really only do so much if what walks in meets guidelines.
19
Oliveoyl has nailed it. @6 has a point too. Barcelona is a dream world of extraordinary architecture including many astonishingly beautiful new buildings. Throughout Spain designers don't restrict themselves to a monotonous color palette consisting of tan, beige, brown, and various shades of puke green and orange. Their color choices are so bad I suspect they're using recycled paint from the hazardous materials disposal station.
20
This is a good summary of how Seattle works. Good intentions and idealism foiled by lack of execution focus and decision making by committee. This is followed up by lack of accountability as each member disagreed with some aspect and can report back to their group how they fought the good fight.

Since we're a racially tolerant and liberal city, the only thing we can then do is blame Amazon.
21
Foot dragging on affordable housing is a legit complaint. Its blah & beige looking is not. An ugly apartment is better than being homeless.
22
Charles, are you referring to the passive house project on 11th Ave E on Capitol Hill whose proposal included a parking lot for most of the residents' cars and an elevator so that they could access them? That proposal had serious problems on top of the make-up and recommendations of the design review board.
23
@8 fair point although the point about an iconic building (masonry or not) stands.

@9 come on, we're not holding a commercial building in a high-rise downtown core to the same cost expectations as a 5/1 residential building, points about materials and seismicity notwithstanding.

@21 agree. I think Charles' piece illustrates that on top of all the predatory delay and expense and process, the DRB process is still cranking out mediocre-at-best outputs.