Monday, August 22, 2016

Contrasting Approaches at Fairview Augur Well for Whole - New Houses at Fairview Addition

The weekend offered a chance to check in on the Fairview Addition. There were 10 houses in various states of completion, and several more lots were marked "sold," so hopefully its sales are proceeding at an acceptable pace.

The corner placement of the porch for one of the houses at the end of a cul-de-sac was striking. An alley segment intersected the bulb of the road end, and across the alley were "The Woods." Even on a cul-de-sac the porch worked the urban border of house and street and forest really nicely, and it felt active, not dead-end sleepy.

The porch borders the sidewalk,
an alley, and woods
Forest Alley off the Cul-de-sac
Here's the garage for the same house (at left, light blue below).

Alley garages! The light blue one on the left is for the porch at top
The foursquare looked done, but it was interesting to compare the actuality of it to the presentation in the Tour of Homes.

The foursquare looks finished
Where did that giant front lawn and walk come from???

But in the Tour of Homes - it has a large front yard
Is that a comment on the primacy of lawn still? (There is a side yard, which you can see here.)

Maybe too since for all the other houses on the Tour the front elevations are so dominated by the garage and driveway, it was necessary to add some kind of paved approach to the house. It's not that important in the end, but it's funny.

The Four Quarters

Hopefully the other projects will start building soon so there's a full complement of the "Four Quarters of Fairview." (Pringle Creek, Lindberg Green, and Simpson Hills being the others.)

While it would have been great for the entire Fairview project to be developed as a whole, with one consistent vision, the more I think about it, the more I like the way it has turned into a "theme and variations," with the Fairview Master Plan as theme and each of the four Refinement Plans as the variations.

Pringle Creek LEED Platinum Home
Because the focus here is on mobility, I have found the Pringle Creek project less interesting. Even though it has permiable paving and a very nice path system, its housing forms still put the garage and driveway front and center, and stressed instead energy efficiency in the interiors and envelope of the housing. There you have a car-centric LEED Platinum dwelling.  It's more modern, but it has seemed more autoist also.

The dwellings in the Fairview Addition, at least at the moment, are not pursuing LEED or other certification, and in that way they almost certainly have a bigger carbon footprint. In the appeal to neo-traditionalism, they also trade some on nostalgia. But in the way they deploy car storage and address the sidewalk with large porches and small setbacks, they seem much less autoist - and definitely better for walking.

There are trade-offs.

But the variety means there are different products brought to market that will appeal to different buyers with different preferences. Some features will be more popular than others, and in subsequent phases of the build-out we may see some elements of convergence on the most popular features. Less popular features may drop out. There will also be further innovation. Other developers might find elements to incorporate elsewhere in Salem. The whole thing is something of a lab for Salem green housing.

While it's not going full-on "mad scientist," this element of experimentation is what makes the theme and variations in the Four Quarters of Fairview so very exciting. In the end, the mixed ecosystem of four different developers may result in a better overall project. Once it is all built out, it won't be as "pure" as the original vision, but might well be more vibrant.

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