Who’s Your Architect?

Quick, name the architect of your building. Do you know who the architect is? Would your friends know who your architect is even if you did?

Two weekends ago, yes I’m that far behind on dead tree reading, the New York Times had an article titled, Nice Tower! Who’s Your Architect?

Be sure to also check out the slideshow.

Makes you think about the lack of good design here in Seattle and how far behind we are even when you look at the buildings to be built through 2010. Off the top of my head there are only a few truly good designs built or in planning:

Mosler Lofts

5th and Madison

Trophy Building

And the last one isn’t even built yet! And I’m sorry but clicking copy, then paste, then mirroring vertically does not make for striking architecture (sorry Heron and Pagoda and every other twin tower project planned in Seattle.)

The NYT article not just points out the good exteriors in New York but challenges the lack of interior design:

This external bravura, however, makes the mind-numbing conventionality of their interiors so much more disappointing. As a rule, most of the architectural fireworks in these buildings tend to stop at the lobby, and there are no compelling ideas about how social spaces should be organized. The interiors of these buildings could have been designed by real-estate marketers, and in many cases they more or less were.

We of course suffer from the same problem in Seattle. The greatest invention we’ve had since stainless steel and granite is open one bedrooms. Of course Eleven Eleven will challenge this with their sliding puzzle wall but I don’t think that’s the type of social space re-organization that the NYT is talking about. When will the developers push the marketers aside and build something innovative?

But maybe it doesn’t matter if your friends don’t know who your architect is because they wouldn’t know even good design from bad.

Urbnlivn nostalgia: One of my first Urbnlivn posts asked, When will Seattle get a ’starchitect’ designed condo? Two years later we’re still waiting.

About Matt Goyer

I love condos, lofts, floating homes, new construction and mid-century moderns so much so that since starting this blog in 2006 I've written over 2,000 blog posts about them!

For years I resisted becoming a real estate agent preferring to be a marketing executive at Redfin but after leaving Redfin (after seven years!) I caved in the spring of 2014 and became a broker. So if you need help finding that "Urbnlivn-style" place or selling your home email me at matt@urbnlivn.com, I'd be happy to help you.

Prior to Urbnlivn and Redfin, I worked at Microsoft after graduating from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Mathematics with a major in computer science.

You can also find me on Twitter, @MattGoyer, or LinkedIn.

  • http://www.NiceSeattleHomes.com Mack McCoy

    Do we want fashion, or function?

    Myself, I’m not so concerned with innovation as I am suitability – creating good spaces for living, for working, for commerce.

    I think that in the search for The Next Big Thing, we truly throw the champagne out with the champagne glass. We don’t need more “innovative” designs, we need a few designs that actually WORK.

    My architect is bjarkoserra architects, they built the 42nd Street Condos – four units in Fremont back in 2001.

    I’m not saying they’re the best living spaces of all time, but three of the four original owners are still there, and the fourth left because of unusual circumstances. I do think they did a fabulous job.

  • http://www.NiceSeattleHomes.com Mack McCoy

    Do we want fashion, or function?

    Myself, I’m not so concerned with innovation as I am suitability – creating good spaces for living, for working, for commerce.

    I think that in the search for The Next Big Thing, we truly throw the champagne out with the champagne glass. We don’t need more “innovative” designs, we need a few designs that actually WORK.

    My architect is bjarkoserra architects, they built the 42nd Street Condos – four units in Fremont back in 2001.

    I’m not saying they’re the best living spaces of all time, but three of the four original owners are still there, and the fourth left because of unusual circumstances. I do think they did a fabulous job.

  • Roboblogger

    The NYT nailed it – Seattle could really do with more innovative buildings. A lot of the condo’s we’ve seen here in the last boom remind one of suburban McMansions both inside and out.

  • http://None Roboblogger

    The NYT nailed it – Seattle could really do with more innovative buildings. A lot of the condo’s we’ve seen here in the last boom remind one of suburban McMansions both inside and out.

  • Mark W

    I haven’t been much impressed with either design or functionality, although I’ve looked at a lot more downtown apartments than condos.

    Start with some reasonable furniture and lifestyle assumptions – e.g., a standard sofa, end table, chair, floor lamp, tv, stereo, and design a space that really accommodates them and their use without *having* to put the TV above the fireplace (fireplace heat can significantly shorten plasma tv life) or the sofa in the middle of the room. Assume that a couple might actually have two bedroom dressers. Widen the washer/dryer closet to store a broom, an upright vacuum, and some shelving for laundry and cleaning supplies. Put outlets next to the phone/cable jacks, not 5′ away. I had a 350 sq ft 1-bdrm in college that did a better job of this than a lot of the 1000-sq ft places I’ve seen around here.

    Of course, soundproofing between units is nice, but apparently not a requirement for award winning design.

  • Mark W

    I haven’t been much impressed with either design or functionality, although I’ve looked at a lot more downtown apartments than condos.

    Start with some reasonable furniture and lifestyle assumptions – e.g., a standard sofa, end table, chair, floor lamp, tv, stereo, and design a space that really accommodates them and their use without *having* to put the TV above the fireplace (fireplace heat can significantly shorten plasma tv life) or the sofa in the middle of the room. Assume that a couple might actually have two bedroom dressers. Widen the washer/dryer closet to store a broom, an upright vacuum, and some shelving for laundry and cleaning supplies. Put outlets next to the phone/cable jacks, not 5′ away. I had a 350 sq ft 1-bdrm in college that did a better job of this than a lot of the 1000-sq ft places I’ve seen around here.

    Of course, soundproofing between units is nice, but apparently not a requirement for award winning design.