Letter to the editor: No more boxes

May 14, 2018


To the editor:

Having worked in the fields of architecture/engineering for years and lived in/visited many places of great architectural diversity and beauty, I wonder: Is there anything more imaginative beyond variations of a “box” encrusted with metal or fake rock/stone being built in Lawrence today? Don’t the architects, contractors or developers have any design sense other than rearranging building blocks? Are these “designs” plucked from a catalog? Isn’t Lawrence, with its historical structures and quaint downtown, better than that?

Overkill growth of apartment complexes and houses in the southern and western borders of Lawrence and along main business corridors, e.g., Sixth Street, 31st Street, Iowa Street, is turning Lawrence into another suburban sprawl. Johnson County used to be charming; now it is sadly like most suburban areas throughout the country: box stores, strip malls, monotonous endless cookie-cutter housing developments, empty businesses, deserted and neglected houses and apartment complexes, and dwindling woods, natural growth and meadows.

I would hope that Lawrence is proud of its historical heritage and would show a little more pride and taste in its new construction and remodeling. The apartments with a commanding view atop the hill overlooking Alvamar are nothing more than vertical rectangles, devoid of character with fake stone facades. KU’s main campus remains beautiful (except for Wescoe Hall), but it keeps pushing west- and southward with buildings of curtain walled and metal boxy structures which are as interesting as post-war structures throughout Europe. Is Lawrence becoming another Johnson County?


Louis Kannen 1 week, 4 days ago

Your 'striking' Lawrencian arkitekurl iteration, overlooking a local CC, clearly reminiscent of inner-city ghetto housing or military barracks, albeit with a 'driver' twist "...hup-two-three...FOUR !! " as one "putt-putts" down the fairways...

Bob Smith 1 week, 4 days ago

There's a time and a place for more Brutalist architecture, never and nowhere.

Beverly Stauffer 1 week, 4 days ago

Amen to that! I am dismayed by the condos along New Hampshire street. They look like a display board at Home Depot (where you can see all the different types of fake stone and brick in one place) and they loom over everything else that's near them. UGLY.

Richard Heckler 1 week, 3 days ago

The letter writer is on target. I notice several construction projects in JOCO and KCMO metro look exactly like some Lawrence projects. Cookie cutter all the way. KU campus has some of this as well.

Nick Kuzmyak 1 week, 3 days ago

Seems like a lot of armchair architects and developers here (including myself). Design changes because needs, materials, costs, and other constraints change. Why don't we have peaked roofs anymore? Because beam spans are longer and stronger and roofing is more watertight. Why do we have brick facades instead of brick structures? Because bricks are ridiculously expensive and can't be insulated without studs behind them. Why does everything take a rectangle or square shape? Because with the spiked prices of lumber/labor/land, streamlining the design is the only way to ensure a profit, let alone affordability (Gehry don't come cheap). Finally, why are there ugly "green space" lawns and parking lots all over the place? Look no further than the land development code, based on a suburban design aesthetics. Any other questions?

Aaron McGrogor 1 week, 3 days ago

It's really just the profits. Very little creative design going into these new buildings.

Carol Bowen 1 week, 3 days ago

Include parking ramps. Lawrence has textbook functional ramps, and it looks like there's a demand for more. The ramps are conspicous intrusions on the downtown scene. If we must have ramps, we should expect better aesthics in the design.

David Reynolds 1 week, 2 days ago

Leslie it is easy to be a critic. You say you work in the field of architecture & engineering. I wonder what that involved? I also wonder if you have ever been financially involved in a project, where you had to put up the assets to finance project & live with the costs & potential income, thus turn your investment into a profitable enterprise.

It's easy to criticize standing on the outside.

It is easy to talk & complain. It would be interesting to see what design & amenities you would build and still balance financial investments vs pro forma income & reality.

Chris Johnson 1 week, 2 days ago

I wonder if this conversation was happening when California bungalows were spreading across the country?

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