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Seattle Mayor Wants Design Reviews to Combat Ugly Buildings

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If Seattle is anything like Chicago, then this is about five years too late, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. After numerous complaints, the city’s mayor, Greg Nickels, has proposed to lay down laws that require builders of condos and townhomes in the city to undergo design reviews in order to stop the horror of ugly buildings (if you live in any major American city, you know the ones we’re talking about). Nickels wants more windows, driveways that face the street, and lower fences along sidewalks, among other changes. Like we said before, this would have been a great idea a few years back, before these designed-as-punishment buildings sprouted up on every corner (equal only to Walgreens and CVS stores), and maybe doing it before the bottom fell out of the housing and construction industry, but at a level of just pure principle, we think it’s a sound idea. Though, of course, the developers don’t share our enthusiasm, but neither do environmentalists (“why all the emphasis on cars?”), neighborhood associations (“you’re going to make our yards smaller?!”), and people with architecture fears (“design reviews will make everything look even more similar!”). And that’s why being a mayor is a difficult job. But again, on principle alone, we dig the idea.

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