Monday, October 26, 2009

Architectural Design Standards Should and Shall

We've given lip service to these "design standards" for quite some time and some how side tracked that issue to do some designing.  don't get me wrong, this was perhaps a better path because each of us has projects that we have become "attached too". There are rules and regulations in place already that control what we can do  these are zoning ordinances and building codes. 

 Zoning Ordinances speak to how the land is used and the extent to which it can be used through broad use designations, set backs,  coverage, off street parking and other related issues.
The Building Code as you know use, size and construction type as well as safety from fire, explosion, earthquake, for the building and it's occupants. 

These two types of regulation are monitored by city  agencies like the planning commissions and building inspection departments. Here in Fargo as well as elsewhere there are procedures for  obtaining zoning variances that allow owner/ developers to modify their projects in ways that are not allowed by ordinances. 

The city is also divided into neighborhood organizations that react to developments that influence them, traffic, new construction, new uses for existing property, infill.. ( all the things we are proposing for our town/ gown site). At times the city or these neighborhood groups propose that zoning be  changed  these changes are called overlays and literally overlay the city's zoning plan with additional or in some cases fewer regulations. 

The Architectural Design Standards we are "pounding out" on Wednesday are being done in this spirit. Through the studio, we have listened to Ron, Steve, Craig Nicole, Bob, Others and each other. We know there are residents, aliens,, homeless, students, faculty and merchants, motorists, service providers each using or traveling thru our area. Change is afoot  and development is will happen So for Wednesday, We need to take off or design caps and empathize with the people to fashion a set of issues that speak to what we believe concerns of this rather large group.

Before this meeting  ARRIVE WITH A LIST  broad ( or narrow issues that you believe should be in our standards. It is very possible that you are already following these NONEXISTENT standards so make another list that ILLUSTRATES who these standards will be adhered too. This means you will need to bring "project paper "

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Playing in the Sandbox

At times studio critics get caught up in studio problems. I did. Take a look at "Robert Street Place". It sits on existing three parking lots. Shifts 275 parting spaces below grade continuing under 2nd Avenue too. Two levels are indicated between 1st and 2nd Avenue North these could be commercial office or even parking. There is "refinement" north of 2nd Avenue two levels of commercial and five levels of housing. The polygonal allows for an atrium space on commercial and housing levels too. Take a look, you can't miss it, it's a moose!

View From North

View From Northwest

View from South

Plan View

View from West

Monday, September 14, 2009

The more people we talk too....

One very apparent thing is that the more people we talk too, we find the more people we should talk too! ENOUGH SAID.

A Place and its People

We have had a series of studio discussions with a variety of individuals each representing differing roles and points of view in what is becoming a very diverse district in Fargo. Once this district served Fargo's the warehousing needs but after the establishment of the industrial park, sat stagnant for decades. Residents sped thru it on two pairs of efficient one-ways that first allowed quick transport from downtown to West Main Avenue and University Avenue South then to West Acres and beyond.
Our speakers were:
Ron Ramsay, District Resident and NDSU Architectural History Professor
Steve Stoner, Park Company Reality and Investments.
Craig Helenske, Helenske Design Group
Nicole Boudreaux Crutchfield, Fargo City Planning
Bob Stein, Fargo City Planning
Although each discussion was driven somewhat my the point of view of the guest. More importantly, common thread ran through them all stressing doing the right thing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fargo Town & Gown Walkabout

Today our studio team  (with Ron) walked around our Town and Gown target area. We took a novel approach and tried to walk "against" the one way avenues, giving us a perspective the a we don't normally get in a car. 
We lingered at the old buildings, the hot sites for renovation the Union Transfer and Storage site, Woodrow Wilson School, Cooper Tire warehouse. and the Great Northern warehouse. Along the way, we discussed single family neighborhoods, the verity of Multifamily sites, and the manifestations of redevelopment, restorations and NDSU downtown campus venues.
Ron talked about planning as it was done versus how it seems to be handled today (the smoke filled room verses neighborhood organizations).  I believe the students received an introduction to physical aspects of the area  and the possibilities for development that left their head spinning. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

I am a critic for an Advanced Architectural Design Studio at North Dakota State University (NDSU) Department of Architecture Fall 09 after a six year hiatus. My section will develop and test design criteria for Fargo's Town and Gown District. This fall NDSU will occupy three off campus buildings adjacent to the central business district. This development has spurred development and although its not out of control there is a greater that normal interest in a part of the city that has not been considered pivotal for some time.

This Show Has Legs

From Fosston Mn to Moorhead, MN, then to Fargo, ND, and finally to St Paul, MN in September The 13 Townships, 5 (then 3) Villages, One Big Garden , and More exhibit will receive a well deserved rest.