Posts Tagged ‘design’

Paris, reimagined

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
Christian de Portzamparc's elevated train
A green belt circling the city.

A metro hub beneath the Louvre’s Pyramid.

A new ringed metro line around city outskirts.

These are among the proposals stemming from master planning now underway for the City of Light. The New York Times has the story.

What makes a good condo?

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

I’ve been meaning to post some various babblings about condo design, marketing, and building operation for a long time, as someone who just went through the buying process and managed to close in October (whew!). What struck me during the process was how off-target many of the products and marketing plans were.

My #1 criteria would apparently surprise many people: not style or amenities, but quiet. That meant a big bedroom so I’d be far from the window and far from any common walls, no locations on noisy streets, no big window walls, and no “dog walks.” I chose a unit on the alley side of an all-residential block…it’s been nirvana.

It’s important that the washer/dryer be at least two doors from the bedroom, because the dryer might be turned on right before bed. Alas, my plan was thwarted because my machine has an incredibly loud and lengthy buzzer. Need to figure out how to disable that.

It’s disconcerting to think one’s conversations might be heard from the hall. You know, when one is planning crimes. So an entryway of some kind is important, vs. a door right off the kitchen.

Kitchen against the wall? Why on earth? You need an “L” or “C” shape so you can be at the cutting board and see guests and/or the football game. And who wants to spend their time looking at the wall?

My building has slow elevator doors and the “close door” buttons don’t work. This is infuriating even in a 25 percent full building. As the building fills up, it’ll result in dramatically longer waits for the elevator to arrive.

As for the 25 percent full thing, score! No condo dues are being charged until we reach a much higher sales figure.

It’s a mystery how a building’s front door that can’t be opened from the inside with gloves or by anyone below a certain size can be considered safe egress, let alone user-friendly. (It’s triggered by a person’s electrical charge.) At least it’s been recalibrated so small people can get out OK.

Carpet in the lobby is nice. Otherwise wet shoes squeak.

Condos that are being marketed often have awful websites. First, they use way too much technology, focusing on animations and unfamiliar functionality, and therefore confusing many people and slowing all. Second, and worse, they attempt to typecast their buyers, and blatantly say so in every ad. All that mattered to me was prices, floorplans, and descriptions. A project whose site didn’t provide all of that, or required my contact information, simply wasn’t on my list.

There are many positives too. We have a nice and helpful staff, who put up with my pointed questions about doors and so on (even middle-class buildings have staff if they’re big enough). My punchlist was zero.

P.S. Since the November blog entries died, and my “glad I bought” entry was lost with them, I’ve been meaning to reprise that. While I paid at the top of the market, I’m still glad as hell I bought. You can try to time the market, but it’s more important to watch long-term fundamentals, and to buy a home you like. Seattle looks overbuilt right now, but some of that is just people staying on the sidelines. They’ll get off the fence sooner or later, and when they do they’ll find that this city has at least a three-year gap in new condo buildings. More on that later. . .

NBBJ architect designs a better double-decker for London

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Chandegra's Routemaster, from the Standard
The UK’s Evening Standard had a story today on an NBBJ architect’s vision for “the 21st century Routemaster,” that iconic red double-decker bus you’ve probably seen on postcards, in Austin Powers movies, and maybe even on the bustling streets of modern London.

Paresh Chandegra’s design is not your mum’s double-decker, though. The curvier, shinier model includes onboard digital navigation screens for passengers, and, while it includes the “hop-on hop-off feature of the old Routemaster” at the rear, the front has sliding doors.

Chandegra’s design is one of 225 entered in a competition for a revamped Routemaster launched by London Mayor Boris Johnson. The winner could be announced next month.