Proposed guidelines honor the public realm

I hope architect John Rogers was misquoted in Mountain X regarding his concern about regulations proposed in the new Downtown Master Plan: “If you follow the letter of the plan, you’re never going to get a building anybody likes” (emphasis mine) [“Try This on for Size,” Feb. 11].

While he may be speaking as an architect, I want to correct the implication that other architects will be unable to design good buildings for downtown Asheville if the proposed plan is adopted.

Building design is already bound by volumes of building codes, zoning ordinances and design guidelines, yet skilled architects still manage to summon creative forces to arrive at good buildings that people like. Sure, there are plenty of duds, but they are—and will continue to be—the result of unenlightened design, rather than onerous restrictions. The proposed master plan merely seeks to adopt guidelines similar to those that govern all the other neighborhoods, such as setbacks or restrictions regarding height that recognize the value of the building context. Unfortunately, many buildings are designed as objects, addressing only image and internal issues, seemingly plopped down on the site, failing to integrate and assimilate into the public realm.

Downtown streets, sidewalks and parks belong to all of us, and Asheville is blessed with great streetscapes. It is important for new buildings that form the walls of these public rooms to recognize this.

— Michael McDonough

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One thought on “Proposed guidelines honor the public realm

  1. diana cerce

    Bravo! Enlightened, creative, sustainable design in all aspects of our lives (relationships, food, shelter, transportation, spiritual reconnection and play) is needed if we are to move successfully into a future.

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