Update on the Webb Building: I opened up the agenda for Wednesday’s Design Review Committee meeting (see previous post)–I’m presenting the design for renovating a small historic structure on 24th Street. Next up on the agenda I noticed my friend Pete Pritchard is presenting a design for renovating—the Webb Building! (see the post Skin-deep Beauty from last week) It sounds like a modest renovation, but we’re delighted to hear it. We’ll see Wednesday what Pete’s come up with, but until then I’ll leave you with a pic of Nooch, another cool restaurant designed by Karim Rashid (this time in Chelsea in NYC)–aglow on a city corner. Tasty food, by the way. Pic courtesy 24gotham.
Seems to me that Bham will never be anywhere close to the NYC’s and Chicago’s of the world in terms of embracing progressive architectural design. I applaud your enthusiasm and stand ready to assist in spreading the gospel of good design across the jones valley as soon as I officially make the move there later this week. I need to immerse myself in some of the cool, hip properties there as soon as I land as well so I don’t go into culture shock. I live in walking distance of Disney Hall right now, where the revitalization of downtown LA is happening right before our eyes. Needless to say, the same thing needs to happen in Birmingham!
Hey David–well, it’s hard to imagine a place like Birmingham ever “comparing” to NYC, Chicago, or LA–our resources are vastly smaller. Once a place like downtown LA is “discovered” (the same could be said for Williamsburg, Brooklyn), there is such a vast metro population with incredible wealth, and a level of education/sophisitication in the surrounding environs, that redevelopment/cutting-edge design/Frank Gehry arts complexes can happen quite quickly. But I think the real key is that NYC, LA, and to a lesser extent Chicago thrive on newcomers, who move to these cities bringing fresh ideas and energy. Places like Birmingham have even less than their fair share of “new blood” moving in, and that results in a relative stagnation development- and design-wise. I say relative–because things are happening–but to me that’s the real issue–we need more people like yourself moving here, both individuals and businesses. Then we’d see a greater openness to better design and new ways of thinking.
And, of course, some of the things that make Birmingham special are not “hip” or “cool” at all–they’re homely, faded, warm, and satisfying. Part of the city’s “soul” that doesn’t have anything to do with loft apartments or chic Thai noodle shops. So we’re glad you guys are moving here, and take the time to savor the weird quirks of the city. And dream about the cool stuff that needs to be here to.
How exciting! Good luck to you both. Keep us updated.
Wait a second? You don’t have noodle shops??? I was told there’d be noodle shops!!! I can’t move now!
Haha–yes, there are some noodle shops. Just nothing like LA. But we have a few! You can relax and feel good about your move now.
In all seriousness, you make a good point in your rebuttal regarding the soul of the city. For sure, Birmingham is vastly different from these other cities, with its history, surroundings and people informing and imbuing it with a “feel” all its own. As a boy, I would often visit my family there, so I know some of Birmingham. The other things I know of Birmingham I have learned through the filter of my family members and relatives who currently live in all of the surrounding suburbs. Needless to say, I am anxious to see the city through my own eyes, without the suburban filter permanently coloring all the information I gain from them.
Looking forward to meeting all the “cool kids” in due time. Maybe we can find a noodle shop with mood lighting?
Likewise in all seriousness, I had the same anxiousness when I moved back here from NYC after having lived on the east coast since 9th grade. Almost all the info I received was through a suburban filter. A lot of that info is valid, but needs to be counterbalanced with additional info from the urban perspective, in order to get the whole picture.
Mood lighting is actually a pet peeve of mine–whether in a residence, shop, or restaurant, the standards for lighting here are often frustrating–an afterthought when it should be integrated into the design. Maki freshis perhaps the closest thing to a noodle shop with good lighting that we have here, unless I’m forgetting something. My favorite Vietnamese noodle bowl is served under very unsubtle fluorescents…
David, welcome to Birmingham! I think you’re going to have fun exploring the city.
Another point in “comparing” B’ham to other cities is that people–and I’m talking about people who live in the metro area, really–don’t readily appreciate the characteristics that make B’ham look like B’ham. Like the industrial architecture, for example, or the boomtown buildings and fantastic collection of terra cotta facades downtown. One weekend I saw a class of architecture students who had come here from out of state to see our unique buildings–it’s too bad that the people who live here aren’t doing that.
About the Webb building…..
Is the building being renovated by the owner so it can be leased, or is it being renovated by someone that has already leased the space?
Chuck–the Webb building is being renovated (exterior only) to make it available for lease–no tenant is identified yet. I will hopefully have an image soon to post.