On Architizer, an architectural website, I found a photo and description of a residential/commercial development built in Mountain Brook, AL in 2014.
Pleasant, as all ideal architectural plans and photos are.
But it also fired up an idea…
Why couldn’t buildings like this go on the NW corner of Van Nuys Bl. and Oxnard St.?
Where currently there is a large, unoccupied glass building that once housed a car dealer (what else?) it is now a yawningly empty welcome to the alleged business and government district of old Van Nuys.
The Mountain Brook, AL buildings (architects: Wakefield Beasley & Associates) anchor the street with ground floor shops, landscaping, sidewalks, trees and diagonal parking. They invite people to walk and to park in front.
276 apartments are built above the stores, with one, two and three-bedroom plans, and are spread between the structures. Various modern amenities, including fitness centers, parks, yoga and meditation areas, wifi, are added to entice renters.
What is it that makes this type of building a dream and not a reality on the main street of Van Nuys? Why, in a city starved for housing, is there not a furious effort by Councilwoman Nury Martinez and the City of Los Angeles to rev up the pace and quality of apartment construction?
Stylistically, the traditional look of this building would probably elicit snickers from the Christopher Hawthorne/Frances Anderson crowd. It is much too literal and polite and pseudo-historic for a cult which takes its abstract, contorted meals at Frank Gehry’s feet.
But Van Nuys is starved for anything that can bring us up from the homeless, trashy, neglected place we are today. An above-average, but suitable design such as the one from Mountain Brook, AL is better than shopping carts full of garbage and people sleeping in cars.
It would work because it cares about the urban context around it.