Do you ever walk down a street and see a building that looks interesting but that something is off, as if it does not belong there? For instance, the image below features two buildings that look the same yet it is confusing to differentiate which is the old and which is the new. I believe this approach is unnecessary. It is almost impossible to reproduce the old style using new techniques.
Our company is different, we believe in designing buildings that should each tell its own story, yet still be relatable to its neighbors. We love designing in places like Jersey City, a location full of rich history with industrial ties and a fun atmosphere. The most appealing buildings you see when you are in a historic district all have a harmonious rhythm and repetition using similar materials and color palette. This concept stems from urban design, an ideology that uses the historical resources that are already present and expanding upon them. Creating new areas in a space where people already live and give them new ways to engage with one another and with the environment around them. A designer needs to understand what gives a town its special character and how to respectfully integrate their new design into that development.
Our project 93 Bright is a great example of a contextual real-estate development that is sensitive to historic surroundings and is appropriate in relationship of masses, volumes textures, etc. The building’s heights and widths of the windows, doors, and entries are all a compatible size to it surrounding environment. The roof of the building has a similar profile to its neighboring buildings, creating an attractive and consistent appearance. The diagram below shows our use of a glass connector that links the new addition with the existing building next to us. The glass and wood used are materials used to accentuate the diverse urban fabric of Jersey City creating a cohesive look.
Architects should not be afraid to use their imagination and step outside the traditional box. It would be a shame if architects continued to create buildings that looked like every other building in the neighborhood constructed 80 years ago. We appreciate the historic sensibility but many older homes do not fit today’s modern needs. Architects can be respectful to a neighborhoods historic charm but still include design diversity.
It is possible to create an urban design that makes cities functional, sustainable, attractive, and acceptable to the public. I say we should not make buildings that look as if they showed up to a party without receiving an invitation. Designs should be timeless and preserve the beauty of historic neighborhoods yet still lets them shine in the 21st century.