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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Other Rooms and Other Voices

posted by on January 31 at 14:45 PM

This is a view from a posh condo near the middle of the new 24-story 5th and Madison building:
3750437_0671e1a47f.jpg Two days ago, the PI’s architecture critic, Lawrence Cheek, had this to say about the tower and its situation:

The more of these towers that sprout downtown (and likewise in Bellevue), the less view remains for each resident and office tenant. The Seattle skyline may look increasingly impressive from the deck of the Bainbridge ferry, but it’s not so enchanting from inside the thicket. Nine new towers are under construction downtown, and there are 25 more undergoing permitting or design review.

When the view consists mainly or entirely of other buildings, is there any point to it?

Traditionally, yes — the fundamental rationale for the American skyscraper has always been to express power, wealth and urbanity. Seattle, though, is different — or at least it used to be. Our great value resides in the city’s natural setting, not in its buildings.

The point? Look, if you want to see nature, leave and stay out of the city; if you want to see other people and other buildings, stay in the city. You can’t have it both ways. It must be one or the other.

RSS icon Comments


Maybe we should go higher.

Posted by Amelia | January 31, 2008 3:03 PM

Do people in lower Manhattan bemoan their loss of views? Seattle is a big city. Despite the Stranger's best efforts. Get used to it.

Posted by Big Sven | January 31, 2008 3:05 PM

HIGHER HIGHER!!! I want a 275 story building in Seattle NOW!! No I want a dozen 275 story buidings in Seattle!! HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | January 31, 2008 3:08 PM

I think it would be neat to have views of other condos and offices. That's part of the fun of staying in hotels in New York.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | January 31, 2008 3:09 PM

"Our great value resides in the city's natural setting, not in its buildings. Here, density extracts a penalty that doesn't exist in, say, Minneapolis or Dallas."

The author forgets to mention that density is the only way to grow and *keep* any kind of natural setting for us to enjoy.

Option 1) Growth + Density = Minimal Sprawl, Maximal Preservation of "nature"
Option 2) Growth + No Density = Maximal Sprawl, Minimal Preservation of "nature"
Option 3) No Growth = Maximal Preservation of "nature"

Unless sex goes out of fashion, I'd wager our only option to keep our regions natural settings is option 1. Wonder what the Lawrence would say?

Posted by crk on bellevue ave | January 31, 2008 3:11 PM

"it must be one or the other"

must it? says who?

Posted by ddv | January 31, 2008 3:13 PM

charles, you're freaking me out. quit saying things that make sense.

Posted by thickturd | January 31, 2008 3:25 PM

this is actually the first sensible thing Charles has posted on slog since i began terrorizing this place.

i agree wholeheartedly. the only way one could prevent this is by building a centrally located pyramid and eliminating the entire downtown. it'd by like tyrell's abode.

but honestly, the dichotomy here isn't too off the mark. if one builds an office out in nature to enjoy nature, they are thus ruining nature. it makes more sense to congregate all the tall buildings that obstruct nature so one can avoid them.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 31, 2008 3:36 PM

I actually agreed with Charles on architecture and urban planning.

I think I might die.

Posted by NaFun | January 31, 2008 3:39 PM

Will In Seattle repeats his pitch for 100-story condo towers in 5...4...3...2...1...

Posted by Hernandez | January 31, 2008 3:44 PM

Two words: Rooftop Gardens

Posted by Anna Montana | January 31, 2008 3:46 PM

obviously this next statement might rub people the wrong way but a tall building isn't created for the views. a tall building is created to get more people in one place for less money. views arent an incentive to build a multistory building. views are the reason you build a home in a small town in bavaria

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 31, 2008 3:47 PM

@5: it's not sex going out of fashion, but it's correct and consistent use of reliable methods of birth control that needs to keep coming INTO fashion.

charles does have a point (and unlike everyone else, i actually like a good deal of what he has to say). alas, i don't know how to feel about that topic though. it is one of the contradictions about living in a city, that's for sure.

Posted by from east of miss | January 31, 2008 3:50 PM

I concur--Rooftop Gardens = The Sweet.

Posted by crk on bellevue ave | January 31, 2008 3:50 PM

I agree with Amelia.

40 to 100 story!

Let's make it so!

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 31, 2008 3:53 PM

and just imagine having sex on the rooftop gardens ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 31, 2008 3:55 PM

16: sweet, safe, dirty sex on rooftop gardens . . . .

Posted by from east of miss | January 31, 2008 3:57 PM

in Vancouver, the towers are slender, and they are carefully sited so that there are views THROUGH the "thicket" to the mountains/water.

not so in Seattle, apparently. but lets' see a view pointing north/west. that's the real test. there isn't shit to see to the north.

Posted by max solomon | January 31, 2008 3:59 PM

Amazing. Brilliant. Savant. Insightful. All words I didn't think of when reaching Charles' closing paragraph. The sun is hot. Pluto is cold. News @ 11.

Posted by brilliant | January 31, 2008 4:03 PM

And Fnarf's apopleptic response to #15 in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by here we go again | January 31, 2008 4:03 PM

You can always build underground and just project beautiful views of the nature above on large video screens.

Posted by Bub | January 31, 2008 4:09 PM

[liberal guilt]
Sorry bub, video screens are made using foreign sweatshop labor by heartless corporations who dont care about you. They are shipped to us on giant ships burning George Bush's oil.

Besides, what makes America think it is so special that we should waste our blood-oil projecting nature scenes on our walls? You should feel guilty for such luxury when people are homeless and starving all around you.
[/liberal guilt]

Seriously though... if I was mayor, I'd make it so a developer could add extra height in exchange for a rooftop garden.

Posted by crk on bellevue ave | January 31, 2008 4:16 PM

@21 and then we can chain people's necks and legs so thats all they can see, and then we can hold contests about who can see and describe the images the best. I loves me some cave allegories.

Posted by vooodooo84 | January 31, 2008 4:19 PM

both bellevue monikers are in agreement. rooftop gardens are the shit.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 31, 2008 4:21 PM


You can't "bemoan the loss of views" that never existed in the first place.

Unless of course, you believe Manhattanites regularly thrilled to the sight of the New Jersey shoreline in the pre-skyscraper days of yore.

Posted by COMTE | January 31, 2008 4:23 PM

How about that... when you look at the new stuff in belltown, a lot of them have rooftop gardens. Maybe the invisible hand of the market has spoken for us?

Posted by crk on bellevue ave | January 31, 2008 4:28 PM

In typical Charles fashion, he pontificates about something of which he knows nothing: "It must be one or the other."

Not the case. You can have tall buildings and still plan so they don't all crowd out everyone else's space and view. And you can be a big city and not have to be Manhattan.

Posted by tomcat98109 | January 31, 2008 4:32 PM

Views? I prefer the view of two guys passing the ol' crack pipe back and forth on the corner of Broadway and Jefferson on Christmas eve. That's what Seattle means to me.

Posted by Marko Constans | January 31, 2008 4:39 PM

I guess that this is one of the "truths" that you search for on a daily basis? This time, you've found it!

Posted by The AntiChuck | January 31, 2008 4:43 PM

Could we maybe include hottubs in the rooftop gardens?

Yeahhh thats it.

Sitting in a hottub on top of a building, skinny dipping amongst the giant buildings and stars......

Posted by Bellevue in my soul | January 31, 2008 4:48 PM

@17,18,27,30 - totally correct.

Mind you, here we are still stuck in analysis paralysis.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 31, 2008 4:51 PM

"here we are still stuck in analysis paralysis"

True, but only because there is a Crocodile Cafe Bowling Alley on the lot that has to be saved first.

Posted by crk on bellevue ave | January 31, 2008 5:23 PM

Rooftop gardens are not the invisible hand of the market, they are the fat, opaque hand of the Zoning Code

Posted by Finishtag | February 1, 2008 10:23 AM

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