May 9, 2013

It's the architectural equivalent of a mullet!

"You won't feel this presence of a building right on top of you," says architect Jeff Zelisko, deflecting criticisms that this mixed use project won't fit the ambiance of Madison's State Street. The building — for the block of State Street closest to the University — is supposed to "feel like it belongs" because of the way it looks like a series of short buildings up front, with a separate-looking tower in the back.



Business in the front, party in the back!

I feel sorry for architects that have to try to satisfy the tastes of Madison urban design authorities. I see one Madison alderman is criticizing this building as another entry in something he calls "the luxury student market." (Did you know there was such a thing?)

Madisonians are fussy about the old-timey facades on State Street. At the State Capitol end, there's a big project that preserves a couple historical storefronts and integrates them into the new construction. A similar approach was taken to the Overture Center project a few years back when there was an immense struggle that forced internationally renowned architect Cesar Pelli to include a second old facade (one of dubious distinction) into his otherwise quite modern design.

This new project — called The Hub — is all new construction, and seems as though fitting into State Street now includes the idea of looking like the mishmash we get over historical preservation when there's sentimentality over existing facades.

46 comments:

mccullough said...

College towns are for the students.

Balfegor said...

Looks better, and with more interesting massing, than most modern architecture, which is crap. But the weird midrise tower in the back is really ugly. That weird barcode patterning on the left side is . . . well, it's already dated. It's going to age even worse.

Chip S. said...

"the luxury student market." (Did you know there was such a thing?)

Westwood Village is Exhibit A.

ndspinelli said...

The White Sox have mullet night once a year. I went last year,it's hilarious.

Of course there's a market for luxury student housing. Where are the wealthy kids from NY, Chicago, Asia, etc. going to live? I can't believe you asked that question.

Mitchell the Bat said...

The proposed Hub could make Madison the Parkour capital of the world.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Massive sunlamps would solve the overshadowing problem.

Strelnikov said...

Reminds me of a milder version of the Acuity building north of Milwaukee on I-43 - which resembles nothing so much as a combination Swiss Chalet and Federal Prison.

Strelnikov said...

Wasn't "The Hub" the place the kids all hung out in Point Place?

Peter said...

That massive building is as well-hidden as an elephant hiding under a mattress.

edutcher said...

Looks like Berlin, 1947.

Chip S. said...

Wow, Berlin looked pretty good in 1947.

garage mahal said...

Business in the front, party in the back!

Liquor up front, poker in the rear!

Astro said...

Too bad Wisconsin doesn't have a culture of world-class architecture.

Chip S. said...

When I hear the phrase "luxury student market", I think of law school.

Mark said...

The sad part is the displaced restaurants, all one off local places whose aged buildings have affordable rent.

And if yoh are unaware of luxury student accommodations, you need to learn about undergrad life for the past decade or so.

edutcher said...

Chip S. said...

Wow, Berlin looked pretty good in 1947.

No, it didn't.

MadisonMan said...

Don't go dissing the Castle and Doyle building.

The one thing I find bleak about Madison Architecture is the lack of color. There is an apartment going up on Dayton, across from Union South, and it was clad for a while in bright purple sheathing, and it looked very vibrant in the gloom of early Spring. Now they've slapped dark brick on it. Snooze. Beats vinyl siding I guess, but just barely.

ndspinelli said...

Garage, LOL! There was a liquor store in Booton, NJ that had t-shirts w/ that pithy phrase.

ndspinelli said...

Strelnikov, Amen on the Acuity building.

Emil Blatz said...

What does this do to the Kollege Klub?

dreams said...

Apparently its the same in all cities, I've never understood what is so great about supposedly historic buildings, old buildings. It seems to be that there is a lot of luddite thinking involved.

MadisonMan said...

And I am very very suspicious of the claim of no shadows. The shadow on the drawing looks to be for Summer Solstice, around Noon, although the trees along State Street are leafless. During the winter, that thing will be casting a shadow all the way across State Street. That's a lot more than the buildings that now line the street -- because they are not 4 stories now, but 2 or 2-1/2.

traditionalguy said...

But is Old Madison style handicap accessed?

That old 5 story maximum height for buildings look went out with new steel framed buildings about 120 years ago.

SteveR said...

"the luxury student market." (Did you know there was such a thing?)

I am pretty sure it's a market which has grown at the same rate and over the same time period as average college tuition, size of non teaching personnel on college payrolls and amount of student loan indebtedness.

Mark said...

MadisonMan, you are right about the shadows. Madison is very dumb about that stuff of late, the renderings I used to print were a joke that way.

Going to be cold and icy in front all winter.

garage mahal said...

Garage, LOL! There was a liquor store in Booton, NJ that had t-shirts w/ that pithy phrase

Haha, yep. I had a "Sit on my face at Clem's Place" t-shirt that had that on the back.

Jeff Teal said...

Does have a 70 year old Bauhaus feel to it.Sort of like a bad 50s scifi movie of the future.Would go along great with Eva Gabor in silver lame` mini skirt.

Methadras said...

Oddly enough Joe Dirt 2 is in the works. Bitch Tits Mahal is getting his popcorn ready.

Chip Ahoy said...

It says "throne" in Egyptian hieroglyphics. It is used to write the name Isis, and it is how you spot Isis all over the place, within cartouches of pharaonic names, because it is so blocky, you see it and right off BAM Isis, and picked out in paintings amongst other ladies who look like her because she has one of those on top of her head, although there is a lot of confusion on this, I see misidentified Egyptian female deities piled up here, and now you know why, the solar disc with cow horns is Hathor not Isis, and the feather on the head is Matt, and the scorpion on top of the head is Serket, and so forth. The throne symbol is first of its class, a small class, domestics and funerary furniture, Q-1 Gardiner's List.

Jay Vogt said...

I feel sorry for architects too. Everybody's got a lame opinion - me included.

That said, the mullet reference is interesting and apt in another way as well. This design is really a throwback to the 1980's. There was a fashion at the time (that's never completely gone away)called "Building Within a Building", which this exemplifies.

I could never figure out if this was done because the architects thought it would seem to the developers that they were getting more for their money or if they just couldn't commit to an aesthetic.

Regardless, it is sort of sad to see Wisconsin, a state with a proud architectural history, going with such a non-committed design at a significant location.

Ann Althouse said...

"The one thing I find bleak about Madison Architecture is the lack of color."

Then I suppose you like the bright red panels on this new proposed building.

I see a lot of color. Approaching the city on John Nolen Drive, looking across the lake, I see a lot of gray green. It's the city's signature color (in my eye). It's all over the place.

Ann Althouse said...

"I am pretty sure it's a market which has grown at the same rate and over the same time period as average college tuition..."

This seems bizarre to me. The students are supposedly going into so much debt to pay tuition. Where does all this extra money come from for rent?

In the old days, student housing was sub-average. Just to get to average would seem extravagant.

I know some students have rich parents, but is it really enough to create market pressure for multiple luxury buildings full of students?

Balfegor said...

Re: Althouse:

This seems bizarre to me. The students are supposedly going into so much debt to pay tuition. Where does all this extra money come from for rent?

Isn't that a lot of what those student loans are paying for?

tangurena said...

This looks like the "Main Street Zoning" that started in Denver about a decade ago. Part of the idea of bringing buildings out to the sidewalk is to make people feel that the neighborhood is meant to be walked. In contrast to hiding buildings in the back of parking lots.

Sample doc: http://www.railvolution.org/rv2006_pdfs/rv2006_227b.pdf


In older parts of cities, you may see retail on the street level, with residences upstairs. Most post-WW2 zoning codes have banned such things. The "box in the middle of a parking lot" architectural style is caused by zoning restrictions that require certain floor area ratios. Different cities/communities have different FARs, so you may see one community with high rises surrounded by other communities with lower buildings, here in Denver an example is Greenwood Village with very high FAR surrounded by other communities with FAR so low that they have almost nothing over 3 floors. In most fast food restaurants, the "occupancy limit" isn't dictated by the number of seats, nor the fire marshall, instead they're limited by the number of parking spaces in the lot.

Is this building looking like a mullet? I don't like most modern architecture. I'm a cranky old fart who'd be happy living in Hobbiton. Instead, I have to live in an urban area, so I picked a house within bike range of my office and walking distance to the light rail.

As for the "luxury student market" that's basically the conflation of 3 things: appealing to foreign students who don't know any better, students who will walk to campus (thus avoiding having to pay for a car and insurance payments - that can save several hundred dollars per month - and aren't economists just discovering that this demographic tends not to buy cars until much older) and that the word "luxury" which has lost all meaning in the US; it really only means "expensive" (just like the word "premium" in the grocery store).

Lem said...

Could it be that certain colors... stand up better to cold weather?

I don't know that for sure... palladian?

Temujin said...

"the luxury student market."

It's called Education. It's the last of the great bubbles. Not only does it cost irrationally more than it should, but a bevy of the degrees are virtually worthless in the marketplace. And some of those with traditionally great worth and standing are suddenly becoming much less so (read: law).

Still, it's fun to watch and wait for the bubble to burst. In the meantime we get swell anecdotes: http://goldwaterinstitute.org/article/administrative-bloat-american-universities-real-reason-high-costs-higher-education

Balfegor said...

RE: tangurena:

As for the "luxury student market" that's basically the conflation of 3 things: appealing to foreign students who don't know any better, students who will walk to campus (thus avoiding having to pay for a car and insurance payments - that can save several hundred dollars per month - and aren't economists just discovering that this demographic tends not to buy cars until much older) and that the word "luxury" which has lost all meaning in the US; it really only means "expensive" (just like the word "premium" in the grocery store).

My impression is that for the most part, foreign students are not into the luxury student accomodations scene, compared to the Americans. The exception is foreign students who are also super rich (of which there are many), but if you're from the royal family of Samsung, you wouldn't be living in a pokey apartment anyway. I'd be interested to see the numbers, though.

Scott M said...

Madisonians are fussy about the old-timey facades on State Street.

You haven't see fussy building codes until you've visited Nantucket. Sheesh.

The inside joke about giving directions to someone there is to have them make a left after the grey building with the white trim.

MadisonMan said...

The inside joke about giving directions to someone there is to have them make a left after the grey building with the white trim.

No, you tell them to turn left where Mrs. Smith used to live.

ampersand said...

Wow, Berlin looked pretty good in 1947.

No, it didn't

Yes, to most of the world it did.

Christopher said...

I see one Madison alderman is criticizing this building as another entry in something he calls "the luxury student market." (Did you know there was such a thing?)

Allow me to introduce you to the "Higher Education Bubble" tag.

bpm4532 said...

Will students/residents understand the environment is fake? Like living at EPCOT - that's not the real Germany you walk thru.

David said...

"I know some students have rich parents, but is it really enough to create market pressure for multiple luxury buildings full of students?"

Why, yes it is, and Madison is late to the game, or at least late to letting people see what is going on.

In my limited experience, there is lots of "luxury" student housing at places like Duke, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Occidental (Hi, Barack!), NYU, Georgetown, Texas, Penn, Michigan (Hi, Althouse!), Pitt and probably others.

These "elite" or near elite schools have a financial model that depends on 25-50% of the students paying full freight. That means a lot of rich kids, not just a few. Mommy and Daddy want the nippers not to suffer or live in "danger" and the nippers, especially the females, reap the benefits.

David said...

The First Wisconsin Bank (now US Bank) was the first new modern building on the square. I worked there for a while in the early days. It encountered the same objections and criticisms and was (and is) a much nicer looking building than this ugly proposal.

The ghost of Albert Speer is alive and well in Madison. He's just got a new face and a different armband.

Craig Howard said...

Judging by the "artist's" rendition, it's a very, very ugly building. Humans crave cognitive and, therefore, visual order and this building displays none of that.

Intentionally, I suppose.

Balfegor said...

RE: Craig Howard:

Judging by the "artist's" rendition, it's a very, very ugly building. Humans crave cognitive and, therefore, visual order and this building displays none of that.

It's not that bad -- the facade intended to give the impression of multiple smaller buildings, rather than a single building, which is why it doesn't visually cohere into a single whole. But the individual quasi-buildings have some sense of order to them, though the one on the right (that transitions from a 4 window facade to some kind of balcony thing) seems a bit slapdash and off-balance to me.

I don't care for the glass facades at middle left but that's because I strongly dislike the trend towards wide expanses of glass (I prefer dim spaces and dislike the greenhouse feeling created by huge glass walls and glass atriums, etc.).

Easily the worst part of this design is the residential tower at back, with its awful, monotonous barcode patterning. The right half is not terrible -- there's clearly been an effort at breaking up the monotony of the facade in an interesting way (I don't think it quite works) -- but the left half is atrocious.