Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rear Views Subtract Harmony at Fairview Addition

The Homebuilders Association annual Tour of Homes kicked off this week, and it is always interesting to see what's at Fairview Addition.

For the third year Olsen Design has a home on the tour, and in one important way it's a big departure from the other houses and the rest of the development. In another way, it offers continuity, and shows an unattractive trade-off for one of the project's big ideas.

It's got a great front porch! But it also has a driveway and garage
The first phase is filling in nicely, and this may be the first house that has a driveway in front. It's the first one I've noticed, anyway. All the other houses have garages and driveways on alleys. Emphasizing the front porch and putting the garages in back was one of the big ideas for the whole development. So it was surprising to see a front driveway and garage.

Flling in: From Leslie Middle School and across Pringle Creek
Since the porch is so nice, and the proportions from front look generally a little like those in a "pyramid cottage" circa 1900 (plus some Craftsman detailing), the driveway is not terribly jarring. Still, it breaks some of the rhythm and harmony of the neighborhood and its houses.

But if you look at that image from across the creek, on the far left in a drab green is the house. It's actually quite huge.

Built into the hill, from west, smaller windows for afternoon sun

Built into the hill, from east and optimized for morning sun
And you can see a second set of garage doors! It's a 3 car, 3 bedroom, 2 full/2 half bathroom house with an elevator for multi-generational living. It's really big.

At least that garage is on an alley. It looks out over the community garden (though like the one at Pringle Community, it's so big it will require a paid farmer/gardener) and over Pringle Creek and the Leslie ballfields. It's an understandable trade-off and design decision.

Large garden with the house in background
But this pattern is also in a place where it makes less sense. On the interior, the front porches and streetcar-era designs are quite charming, and appear to be successful in building an inviting and very walkable neighborhood. And the houses that are fully inside the development are able mostly to hide the garages on the alley system. On the whole this trade-off yields a very nice patterning in the most public spaces.

From the interior sidewalks? Totally charming!
(At Fairview, from 2017 Tour of Homes materials on Facebook)
There is no fence along Pringle Road, a minor arterial bordering the development, but the houses themselves still enforce a separation and make for an unfriendly perspective. Here the trade-off yields something much less attractive than the front porches.

The houses along Pringle Road back onto the sidewalk
There's a row of houses whose porches face the interior, but whose rear ends face the public sidewalk along Pringle Road, and cannot be hidden without a fence.

The houses are unbalanced in the rear
From the side - and as the development fills in, this view will be at least partially concealed by other houses, it should be said - you can see again how big is the garage element. Part of this is topography, but even so the need for a large, attached multi-car garage breaks any harmony in the basic century-old cottage form. These houses are oversized, and they don't scale proportionately because of the garages. Aesthetically, the garages make for a kind of mullet. Even if they have multi-generational living spaces or bonus rooms stacked over them, they still disturb the massing.

These first houses are proof-of-concept and will essentially fund more interesting urban forms farther into the interior as the project is built out. Hopefully there are row houses, missing middle forms, and neighborhood commercial mixed-use forms yet to come. The project has to have a baseline of success in order to continue, and this trade-off in the very first phase for the big garage is understandable. The houses have to sell.

But it's a real loss that our autoism forces a little bit of a Potemkin effect.

For previous notes on Fairview Addition, including a lot of cheering and praise, see here. In many ways this is the most interesting project in Salem right now, especially as the other projects on the former institution are stalled, and we'll continue to follow it closely. It may be more-or-less luxury housing at the moment, but its success can alter the market more generally.


Anonymous said...

The drawing of the house looks like a cute little box. The actual house as shown in your photo looks like any other new "cottage-ranch" inspired suburban house except that they've tucked the garage behind instead of projecting it out. I think this is a little bait&switchy and that the developer has some 'splainin' to do.

Anonymous said...

Different Anon looks like they operate the "urban farm" as part of Lucky Crow and its CSA -

They farm a larger working farm, as well as the urban plots in Edwards Addition in Monmouth and Fairview Addition.

Anonymous said...

Sadly it looks like more driveways are coming to Fairview Addition for the 2019 tour homes. So sad, the driveway is back!