Why can't West Seattle have better looking new buildings?

Congratulations West Seattle.

After reviewing the elevation drawings of the two new construction projects slated for 4724 California Avenue SW and 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW it is abundantly clear that we are fast becoming home to bland, uninspired buildings. To use an architectural term, these ‘grey’ buildings lack both originality and substantive style. Will they make the Junction and West Seattle more visually appealing? Are they sensitive to the surrounding character of our neighborhoods? Are they a valued asset? It doesn’t look promising.

The seven-story California complex, its unoriginal exterior aside, is totally out of proportion with the street and neighboring structures. Unfortunately, this scale issue will soon be compounded by the elevation of the project slated to occupy the corner of California and Alaska. Ballard, incidentally, is a prime example of how uninteresting buildings can totally change the look and feel of a community. Yes, we have been designated as an Urban Village. Growth is inevitable and it can be very positive. Just look at all the new businesses that have opened in West Seattle. It’s wonderful.

All of which leads me to this question: Why can’t we demand from the architects and developers more original and inspiring buildings? If the current projects are any indication, it’s wishful thinking. And that’s a tragedy, because we’re going to have to live with these structures for many years to come.

One last note…in the Monday, November 26th edition of the Seattle-Times, a front page headline article appeared entitled “Ballard’s Risky Apartment Boom”. The article studies the rampage of construction projects by apartment developers in Ballard and the very real concern that buildings will exceed demand. West Seattle is singled out as “an area of concern” –it too having too many apartments being built that could exceed the demand.

Welcome to your new neighborhood.

Bill Gohde, concerned resident of West Seattle

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