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Old 11-15-2011, 03:58 AM
 
Location: Virginia-Shenandoah Valley
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United. I'll stop at this but "Elitist" comes to mind when I read your posts regarding Loudoun County. You're certainly entitled to your opinions but so am I.
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:03 AM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
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can I comment on ILD's two pics

the Soviet apt blocks are towers in the park - hi rises surrounded by large open areas - typical of the Le Corbusier approach to density (and built on occasion by private developers in the USA in that era - it wasn exclusively a socialist style, but of course since the market tended to deliver product farther up the value chain than public housing did, they were mostly somewhat more attractive - you cant find many examples of really bad private housing built for poor people, at least in the USA, because the market simply hasnt delivered new housing for poor people since housing codes made it impossible to build new tenements). Very hostile to pedestrian life, and thoroughly disliked by contemporary urbanism. (the phone/electric wires also add to the unattractiveness - we have issues with that in many older low density suburns in this region, but not in Ashburn or Brambleton, I take it)

The townhomes, are actually a good example of how urbanist ideals have changed suburban life. They are large, and they lack garagages (at least on the front). They are more like certain types of older city row houses (well the larger better kind) than they are like the THs that were built in the suburbs here in the 1970s and 1980s. (the increase in size is driven by multiple factors, but the fashion for lux THs without front facing garages is I think an urbanist fashion)

I dont see anything an urbanist could criticize about them from that picture. That could be Old Town, or part of North Arlington. There may be issues with their location relative to transit, but you can't see that in the picture.
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:14 AM
 
Location: In the woods
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiaLimaDelta View Post
Let me tell you, in the Soviet era, homes like these in Ashburn would have been for the favored elites -- that's if they were available at all. And I am not even talking about much bigger, more expensive SFH with 1/4 or 1/2 acres in Ashburn, which would have been beyond even fantasy. They would have been palaces for the party chairman, only filled with appliances that actually work.
Yes, but if they were for a [soviet] party chairman, wouldn't there have been only 1 or 2? Not several dozen like we see these days sprawling all over the place?
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:33 AM
 
Location: In the woods
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brooklynborndad View Post
can I comment on ILD's two pics

I dont see anything an urbanist could criticize about them from that picture.
Maybe it's just me but I (personally) see areas to criticize in these townhomes (I am looking primarily at the center home), including:

* dormers that go nowhere (do not lead into a room);
* keystones that do not support anything (placed on top of decorative casement);
* plastic grills/grids inset into windows to look like multi-pieces of glass instead of the real thing, called muntins;
* confusion about shutters: shutters on level 1, no shutters on level 2, and then shutters on level 3. Furthermore, they are plastic;
* confusion about transoms: rectangles on level 1, fanlights on level 2, and none on level 3. all have the fake muntins;
* windows with 3 different sizes (h x w);
* windows that are not recessed (which leads to faster deterioration and provides a "flat" look because they lack 3-D) and without casements (designed to repel water);

It is a confusing mix of styles. Houses that appear to have high-quality, hand-crafted elements which . . . do not.

Quote:
That could be Old Town, or part of North Arlington.
I was in New York about two weeks ago so I will throw in those neighborhoods as well as Philly, etc. I don't think they look much like the homes in older neighborhoods other than being 3 stories tall; they are uniquely suburban and resemble or mimick the older houses.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:54 AM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by South Jersey Styx View Post
Maybe it's just me but I (personally) see areas to criticize in these townhomes (I am looking primarily at the center home), including:

* dormers that go nowhere (do not lead into a room);
* keystones that do not support anything (placed on top of decorative casement);
* plastic grills/grids inset into windows to look like multi-pieces of glass instead of the real thing, called muntins;
* confusion about shutters: shutters on level 1, no shutters on level 2, and then shutters on level 3. Furthermore, they are plastic;
* confusion about transoms: rectangles on level 1, fanlights on level 2, and none on level 3. all have the fake muntins;
* windows with 3 different sizes (h x w);
* windows that are not recessed (which leads to faster deterioration and provides a "flat" look because they lack 3-D) and without casements (designed to repel water);

It is a confusing mix of styles. Houses that appear to have high-quality, hand-crafted elements which . . . do not.

I was in New York about two weeks ago so I will throw in those neighborhoods as well as Philly, etc. I don't think they look much like the homes in older neighborhoods other than being 3 stories tall; they are uniquely suburban and resemble or mimick the older houses.
I meant to refer to either aesthetics, or neighborhood function, not the issues of maintenance and quality (Im not saying those are not important, but they are either issues totally "internalized" to the homeowner, or they are not obvious from the picture) As for the dormer, it may provide light to an attic room - that may be unusual, but I can't tell that from the picture alone (just as I cant tell how many elevators are broken in the high rise). i do agree with you some of the touches, like the clearly non functional keystones, the arrangement of shutters, etc, are non functional things one would not find in a true 19th c townhouse. However they are things I think you would find in NEW townhouses in urban neighborhoods - which is why I mentioned Old Town Alex, and North Arlington - Old town does have new townhouses, and AFAIK ALL the townhouses in North Arlington are new. I cant say for sure, as I cant recall ALL the details on all the new THs I have seen in urban areas. It MAY be that much of whats built today including in urban areas is of suburban influence - Im not sure. I would say its simply a luxe, faux style, thats popular with buyers apart from location.

In any case, as I have said, I do not care to critique individual faux elements in these THs - I have tried critiquing McMansions here in the past, and have very much been told thats evil elitist hipster snobbism. Ergo, I was trying to address the overall urban form questions, rather than intricate arch details (though I congratulate you on your eye for them).
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:40 AM
 
1,403 posts, read 1,849,126 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brooklynborndad View Post
Very hostile to pedestrian life, and thoroughly disliked by contemporary urbanism.
I thought the two pedestrians (or one pedestrian and one tram track repairman) were a nice touch, no? The funny thing is that the buildings were/are indeed very hostile to pedestrian life, but since public transport often broke down and few owned cars, no one could go anywhere. Me thinks that was by design.

And these buildings were and are universally loathed by all especially by those who lived there, not just by "contemporary urbanism."

The most one could say for this type of housing was that they were better than shacks at shanty towns (e.g. Brazilian favelas) or no homes at all.
Quote:
(the phone/electric wires also add to the unattractiveness - we have issues with that in many older low density suburns in this region, but not in Ashburn or Brambleton, I take it)
That's one thing very nice about new developments -- buried cables. Aside from aesthetic issues, they come in handy during storms.
Quote:
Originally Posted by South Jersey Styx View Post
Yes, but if they were for a [soviet] party chairman, wouldn't there have been only 1 or 2? Not several dozen like we see these days sprawling all over the place?
My friend, such men had access to multiple homes and dachas, not just 1 or 2.

But if you mean to say that their homes had privacy (of sorts) or at least greater distance from other homes, then yes.

Anyway, my point in all this is to simply point out how vastly different centrally planned socialist buildings were compared to the likes of Ashburn or Brambleton. There is simply no comparison, in home designs, landscape, interior furnishings and appliances, lifestyles of the residents, you name it. Only the most deluded or truly ignorant think that they are in any way comparable.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:44 AM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,776 posts, read 10,683,449 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiaLimaDelta View Post
I thought the two pedestrians (or one pedestrian and one tram track repairman) were a nice touch, no? The funny thing is that the buildings were/are indeed very hostile to pedestrian life, but since public transport often broke down and few owned cars, no one could go anywhere. Me thinks that was by design.

And these buildings were and are universally loathed by all especially by those who lived there, not just by "contemporary urbanism."

Those buildings may well be. I was thinking of other examples of towers in the park, that contemporary urbanists (and hipsters) dislike, but are NOT disliked by all who live in them

for example see this discussion of the "socialist" (originally labor union owned building) warbasse apts in NYC, now inhabited largely by folks from the FSU.

Coney Island mellow
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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I just remembered that there were homes like the Brambleton ones in "socialist paradises." Except there was nothing inside and no one lived in them, i.e. "Potemkin" villages.

They were shown to gullible foreign visitors who then extolled the greatness of their host society especially in comparison to slums in their own countries.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:55 AM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,776 posts, read 10,683,449 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiaLimaDelta View Post
I just remembered that there were homes like the Brambleton ones in "socialist paradises." Except there was nothing inside and no one lived in them, i.e. "Potemkin" villages.

They were shown to gullible foreign visitors who then extolled the greatness of their host society especially in comparison to slums in their own countries.
Did United make the comparison to Soviet Architecture?. I can think of many examples of govt planed metro forms (from Englands Green belt, to limits on rural development in western europe, to Robert Moses' approach to greater NY) that are quite different from that. Some done by social democratic govts, some not.

Of course, Ashburn is a private development - AFAIK its planning was coordinated between the private developer and Loudoun County. Its more the heir (AFAICT) of earlier planned developments like Reston and Columbia, which had some "utopian" ideology in their background, but certainly not Leninism.

of course the original Petersburg, was developed by Govt planning as well - The Nevsky Prospekt, etc were done at the iniatiative of the Tsarist govt, and followed mostly Baroque planning principles- which we see in our region in Annapolis, and to some extent in the L'enfant plan for Washington DC itself.
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:57 AM
 
1,403 posts, read 1,849,126 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brooklynborndad View Post
Did United make the comparison to Soviet Architecture?. I can think of many examples of govt planed metro forms (from Englands Green belt, to limits on rural development in western europe, to Robert Moses' approach to greater NY) that are quite different from that. Some done by social democratic govts, some not.
First of all, yes, he compared Ashburn to Soviet developments. See:
Quote:
It just reminds me of stepford wives or something similar, where it all looks alike/ the same...etc. In a way, some of it is almost like just modernised soviet housing blocks where the buildings and / or town/ row homes all look alike, same color, same plantings...etc. I remember seeing photos of the old soviet union when I was a kid in the 80s and thinking how sad it seemed that everyone lived in what looked like the same thing, row after row, street after street, mile after mile. Some places in this country have ended up looking that way, and some places in eastern Loudoun remind me of this.
And, no, the Soviets were not the only ones to build such housing developments. They are very common all across former Soviet bloc countries as well as many other places where central economic planning was in vogue, whatever the form of government. Where central planning is no longer in vogue, they have been torn down and redeveloped.

And nothing in Ashburn or anywhere else in eastern Loudoun remotely resembles them. Comparing townhouses in eastern Loudoun to these is utterly asinine to anyone who actually lived in such housing. But I suppose to snobs (or reverse-snobs or whatever) who think that anything less than a house on a rolling, wooded hill with a bucolic view is the equivalent of Soviet housing (esp. if the said "Soviet-style" housing contain cars that cost $100,000), there is no arguing with words... or pictures.
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