12 November 2010

How to Ruin a Nice Building


Snake a big silvery steam pipe up the side is one way. This is a building on Court Street in Carroll Gardens that that the AIA Guide to NYC went out of its way to praise as "a brownstone bracketed Italianate corner villa." It dates from 1860. The steampipe, meanwhile, is timeless crap. Apparently, the vital new business going into the ground floor needs it.

12 comments:

photodudeimages said...

What would the alternative to the steampipe be?

Magic Fountain 4 Life said...

True, but the real concern is what kind of place is going in there. The Arizona Iced Tea sticker on the window is not a good harbinger...

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Set the pipe further back so it's less visible. Certainly paint is a darker color so it blends in. I'm not an engineer. But it appears to me they took the easiest route possible and just plopped the thing on the building.

upstate Johnny G said...

When one focuses solely on money all other values go by the wayside. Including aesthetics, history, community, among others. Could this pipe have been moved? Most likely? Could it have been painted to blend in? I would think so. And if they were going to paint it, wouldn't it have been great to use faux techniques to disguise it even better? But the sad fact seems to be that no one cared enough to do anything except the simplest thing: run the pipe right up the front of the building. Just adds to the coarseness of current life in the city.

upstate Johnny G said...

Hey Brooks, I don't mean to hijack your posting, but did you see the article in the Times on Fri the 12th? It concerns the coming invasion of Bedford Street, Williamsbug by chain stores. Here's the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/nyregion/13metjournal.html?hp

A couple of things struck me about this article. The first were the comments by the woman who recently moved to W'burg from the UWS and was enthusiastic about the arrival of Duane Reade and hoped for more chain stores to come. Of course it was kind of odd that she said she needed the convenience of Duane Reade, when there is another, independent, pharmacy right across the street. She went so far as to say that she wanted to move back to the UWS, where presumably she lived close to the Dunkin Donuts she yearns for in W'burg. And this makes me wonder why she moved to W'burg in the first place, or whether she did any research at all into the nabe before moving.

The second thing is the statement that what the chains look for is a certain population density (and presumably an income level) which triggers their interest in moving into a new area. Once developers put up a few residential towers in formerly small scale neighborhoods, the chain stores will follow and greedy landlords will drive out the independents in favor of the chains. And oddly, the article puts this all down as part of "gentrification". I say "oddly" because I always think of the "gentry" as preferring independent merchants which are "exclusive" by the fact that they are small businesses with only one or two locations. Feeling special by dint of enjoying exclusive shops was always something I thought of as an essential quality of being "gentry". And so I find it strange that an essential element of what I'll call "the new gentrification" is to have easy access to all of the mass-market, national chain stores that are the only option for the millions who live in small cities or 'burbs everywhere across America.

mkhobson said...

It's possibly a better solution than tearing up the inside of the building to install ductwork?

Batman said...

These things are all over the Slope and Cobble Hill.

Food uses pay better. What's the big deal?

upstate Johnny G said...

Ah, Batman, mon ami, spoken as one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Let me put this in real terms....
I don't care whether food uses pay better. I'm only concerned with myself and what pleases me. I could not care less about which uses pay the best for a given space. If I find the new place dull, boring, and a dim repeat of a dozen other stores already open then I'm not going to be happy with the place...even if is a better business deal for the owner to sell food instead of something else. If I don't like the place I won't shop there, I'll discourage my friends from shopping there, and I'll hope the clown goes out of business as soon as possible so that perhaps the next tenant will open a place that I'll like.

Whether economics says "food use pays better" has no relation to whether I'd be happy with how the space was used ... because in the end it all comes down to personal taste, personal interest.....and freedom and individuality. No "economic law" can dictate to me what kind of shop I find appealing, yet that, Batman, is what you'd seem to be promoting.

velvethead said...

It's a ventilation duct, for most likely a restaurant's kitchen going in. Necessary, but certainly does detract from the look of the building. Should box it out and EFIS it with a color to match the facade so your eye isn't drawn to it so readily.

Brendan Crain said...

"I'm only concerned with myself and what pleases me."

Haha, finally! The actual motivation behind 99% of NIMBYism, straight from the horse's mouth.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

"I'm only concerned with myself and what pleases me."

Couldn't this also apply as the motivation of the person who put the steampipe up. Only steampipe many is concerned with and pleased by making money, period.

w.a. said...

Actually, it is not a steam pipe but a ventilation exhaust duct, and a particularly ugly one at that, probably for a restaurant going in on the ground floor.