Letter writer: Reverse architectural ‘tide of mediocrity’ in downtown architecture

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I am heartened by the recent outpour of distress concerning the aesthetic character in all manner of new Asheville downtown building projects. Three new hotels, a low-cost housing structure and an increasingly wide range of multistory ground-floor facades speak to a want of any proven talent being in use for bringing such efforts into reality.

I am the retired owner of an architectural and engineering company that designed a full range of private-sector, federal and foreign building projects up and down the U.S. East Coast. I recall the range of times, whether in Washington, D.C., Boston, or in smaller cities, when submissions had to be made to a fine arts council so as to assure a citizenry of outcomes that would carefully satisfy planned-for design standards. There is no better example to be found of such loving care being taken than in the extraordinary downtown of nearby Greenville, S.C.

Asheville has become enviably vibrant and recognized in some ways. But except for several buildings from earlier periods, I feel that its late architecture represents a tide of mediocrity that needs to be reversed.

— Edward Loewe
Asheville

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