Tag Archives: urban

Mind the Gap (2)

The site, within an indeterminate cityscape

I realize we’re all due for some new posts; a deadline in the office has prevented me from publishing in the last few days (though I have a long list of topics just itching to get onto the blog). Hang in there for a couple more days.

In the meantime, let’s jump to Anniston, Alabama about one hour’s drive east of Birmingham. The city has a population of some 24,000, and the metro about 110,000. Its central core, while home to some great historic buildings and some revitalization, feels frayed and pock-marked in many places. Like many other cities, the energy has shifted to the suburbs, especially Oxford.

Downtown Anniston, feeling a little frayed

We were commissioned to design a new dental clinic on a lot at the edge of the business district, where the city starts to transition to neighborhoods. The property was an empty corner, surrounded by suburban-styled parking lots and unmemorable, one-story buildings, as well as some older houses across the street. The owner wanted to make a statement to the city about confidence in its potential growth. This was an unusual part of town for this sort of investment, that’s for sure.

So we designed a building that, rather than sitting back behind a parking lot, comes right up to the corner, with the parking tucked behind it. We used a combination of metal panels and stained wood for the exterior; the interior is high-ceilinged with lots of glass to try to dispel that typical “dentist office” feeling.

While small, the building has already surprised some locals, used to suburban investment and parking lots, not architecture that proposes a more urban edge on the street.

holding the corner

We’ll see if this building (just opened recently) might inspire others to reevaluate the importance of the central urban fabric, and to consider fresh ways of redeveloping un- or under-used property.

(downtown Anniston pic courtesy markbajekphoto1)

And for anyone interested in seeing the site plan, click here: SD 2010-03-12 SITE iii

Welcome to constructbirmingham!

Hello fellow bloggers, interested citizens of Alabama, and the world. I’m an architect and developer based in Birmingham, Alabama–my hometown. This blog is something I’ve mulled over for a while. It will center around the built environment of Birmingham–the good, the bad, the ugly–and will suggest, and hopefully stimulate, some ideas for constructing a better city. Here in Birmingham we have access to lots of resources about architecture, sustainability, walk-ability, and a few really good coffee shops–but no real local forum for discussing how our urban environment is made, perceived, dreamed about, sullied, improved, compromised—-constructed.

I plan to launch a series of topics that I hope will be interesting not just to those living in Birmingham, but to anyone challenged to make their own local environment more livable, more beautiful, more sustainable, more coherent, and more special.

First real post to come shortly. For now, I’m leaving you with a little picture of some impromptu skating street life outside my office downtown.