New and Old #83
Roundup and commentary, one day early
Such massive, boxy apartment buildings [5-over-1s] are all too often the only type of structures developers are interested in erecting due to the demands of the state’s building codes. A proposal to alter such standards heard before a Department of Housing and Community Development building code stakeholder committee last month may soon offer alternatives. If a rule to allow new construction to have a single staircase up to six stories is approved, then smaller buildings that better foster community among residents could begin popping up in cities and towns across the commonwealth.
It’s sort of obvious that there must be reasons why most new apartment buildings sort of look the same. But maybe it isn’t. Some people think it’s because we’ve lost a sense of beauty. In other words, a metaphysical problem. But this story discusses the reasons why the building code encourages these apartment buildings that many people don’t like. And that can change.
The prevailing thing you experience when you drive through Lakewood Ranch is distance. Incredible, alienating distance, with long stretches of nothing at all flanking the major roads in between entrances to gated communities and business parks. It’s a landscape of supersized roads, supersized parking, giant medians, noise walls, and retention ponds. It’s impossible to even imagine walking anywhere as a means of transportation in Lakewood Ranch. The distances are so great that the idea is ludicrous.
And this is in an area that is supposedly doing Smart Growth well! Read the whole thing, but this paragraph really captures a huge aspect of why I care about this stuff. That sense of distance is a big part of it. In fact, I often see distance where many people see overcrowding. It’s fascinating and kind of weird.
The pictures here are very cool—although I think I prefer the aesthetic of the before over the after! My grandmother’s house on Long Island was a postwar cape expanded into a colonial, just like this. This sort of modification is very cool. These houses started simple, with the expectation that many people would be modifying them over the years, rather than tearing them down.
When I explored Edison, New Jersey, I noticed the same thing. So many postwar suburban houses, many once identical, all a little bit different as people customized them and grew into them.
This is a really fun and sort of surprisingly deep blog post on Pizza Hut’s very conscious return to its old branding, even as many if not most of the locations from that classic era were closed or have gone out of business. The way in which specific brands and products eventually enter the cultural public domain is fascinating to me. Read the whole thing.
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