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Archive for the ‘architecture’ Category

Why 10 year olds should not be architects

Posted by Peter W on August 16, 2007

Ugly “house”

Originally uploaded by techieshark

This is what appears to be a 5 car garage with living quarters above it in Beaverton. It looks like it was designed by a 10 year old (actually that is probably an insult to 10 year olds). This is also proof that Washington County has no residential maximum for parking. The lot itself is gigantic – the grass in front is large enough to put two more homes on it at least, and the driveway is probably 100 feet long.

Why not just do detached garage(s) and build a nice looking ground level house? Got me!


Posted in architecture, beaverton, washington county | 1 Comment »

Nicest House in Aloha to go?

Posted by Peter W on August 14, 2007

There is a really nice house next to Errol Hassell Elementary School in Aloha which may soon be demolished to make way for 12-14 houses. (The sign says +/- 12, but my sister walks dogs in the neighborhood and one of her customers said they got a flier saying it would be 14 houses).

While walking past it the other day, my sister saw the following sign:

+/- 12 lot subdivision
August 16th 2007, 6 PM
Aloha United Methodist
2270 SW 198th

Its curious to me that the meeting isn’t right next door, at the elementary school. Perhaps they are trying to avoid angry neighbors?

The house was probably one of the first ones in the area. A friend of mine built it and lived in it for a number of years, back when Bany Road was gravel with farms along it, and back when the school didn’t exist and the neighborhoods behind the school were just forests.

The house is on an approximately 3 acre lot with lots of large coniferous trees. It would be a shame to see either the house or the trees go. I’ll try to make it to the meeting – hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that the new development will be nice looking while preserving the trees and house.

Posted in architecture, washington county | Leave a Comment »

Cookie cutter development coming to North Bethany?

Posted by Peter W on July 18, 2007

When I heard that North Bethany only has a handfull of developers for the 800+ acre site, I was worried that it would lead to ugly cookie cutter suburbia, and from the planning team’s developer interviews (“Development Plans, p.3) it looks like that is the case:

The developers acquiring land in the north Bethany project site are predominantly production builders, meaning they want to buy, build, sell, and conclude their investment as quickly as possible. This influences the type of housing product that they sell.

The developers relayed that their plan is to design and build product similar to what exists in the adjacent neighborhoods, build during the 1990s: single family residential (SFR), on small lots of 3,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet. townhomes and condominiums are also a product-type option, but on a smaller scale. It was noted that some of the developers like to build two products for diversity and thus reach a larger share of the market; it also enables projects to hit the density zoning requirements in places. The large developers (and primary landholders) are production builders. They have a formula that works and they stick to it. Thus, the product type planned for the area will currently have little diversity. A few developers are open to more product diversity, but they would likely partner or sell those parcels to a company that has experience doing something else, such as multifamily or mixed-use development.

It looks like the only hope for a real “community of distinction” is that if the plan calls for the kind of greater density and mixed use that these developers (like the giant West Hills Development aka “Arbor Homes”, Matrix Development aka “Legend Homes”) can’t do themselves, then they may sell it to someone with more experience and better architects / planners.

Posted in architecture, north bethany, urban planning, washington county | Leave a Comment »

Cool architecture in Salem, OR

Posted by Peter W on July 8, 2007

For the 4th of July I went to Salem, OR with some friends to watch 39 Shillings perform and for the fireworks. The band was great, the fireworks were pretty good except for the bad nationalistic country music (namely Darryle Worley’s “Have You Forgotten”) they played during it.

Anyway, while we were there we had fun poking around Salem and taking some pictures. I’ll post one below and you can see more at my flikr page.

Pretty building in Salem, OR

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University Housing 2.0

Posted by Peter W on June 13, 2007

I haven’t moved in yet, but so far I’m not impressed with the student housing options at PSU.

Its not that its worse than at other schools — as far as I can tell they are all just as bland.

But couldn’t it be better? Check this out –

The MIT Simmons Hall looks both amazing and crazy at the same time (see architect’s page, photos, more info). Each dorm room has nine windows so you can do things like open the windows at the bottom and top to increase ventilation, and there are what look like giant holes in the side of the building, and cave like things bringing light into multiple stories, and really pretty staircases. Some of the cave like things even stick out into the hallways, which may be annoying if trying to squeeze lots of people through, but must make for an interesting experience. Mainly the residence hall just seems cool and exciting, and it is one of many cool new buildings being built at MIT. I wish I could say that buildings at PSU were that cool and exciting.

Looking around online, I didn’t find much else in the way of cool university housing, but Maple Hill Residence Hall in Arkansas looks nice. It isn’t amazing like the Simmons Hall, but it has a nice old mansion kind of appearance. I also like that it has a fireplace lounge on each floor – I think that adds to the “big old house” feel of it.

Apparently colleges are actually quite interested in Housing 2.0… so much so that the Association of College and University Housing Officers–International put up $25,000 prize money in a competition to design the next great dorm. The winner was flexDorm, according to this press release:

Stackable rooms, fold-out beds, and a one-piece sink and toilet are just some of the features that will be included in the residence hall of the future according to design concepts submitted by Jonathan Levi Architects (JLA) of Boston, Massachusetts. These innovative ideas, along with technological advances such as a smart-media wall and glass walls with adjustable transparencies, earned the company the jury’s grand prize for best design…

But $25,000 is nothing compared to the $25-billion higher education construction industry. With schools spending that much, hopefully some of them are working on really great buildings.

So back to housing, what would make a really great Dorm 2.0?
Here’s some ideas for things that most dorms might not have:

  • a mini patio or deck for each room, or a shared terrace
  • window seats
  • lots of nice lighting
  • soundproof walls
  • quite study rooms and lounges
  • game rooms
  • exercise rooms
  • computer labs
  • movie room
  • nice furniture already in the rooms (optionally)
  • built in sound systems
  • wood floors
  • kitchens with mini fridge, stove, oven
  • high speed internet ports or wireless access
  • mixed uses including classrooms and businesses (like cafes) on the ground floor
  • sustainable features like a green roof with community garden, energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting, and recovering rainwater for use in the building (PSU’s Epler Hall is a pretty awesome example actually)

Posted in architecture, cool ideas, design, school | Leave a Comment »