ugliest house on the block
new construction at 2122 Fitzwater is turning into a real blot upon
dreamed up the notion that new construction must include offstreet
parking surely had a screw loose.
it makes sense to want to keep Philadelphia's on-street parking
from getting any more frustrating. But it opens the door to neighborhood-unfriendly
designs like the new construction at 2122 Fitzwater Street (the
Oxford Group) pictured at the right. While I was taking this picture,
one passer-by commented, "they aren't even doing anything this
ugly with public housing these days."
are two good reasons this housing design should have been shot down
for the good of the community.
It is taking a public parking space out of play. Normally, the
space in the street in front of this house would be available for
someone to park in it at any time that it's vacant. Now, this portion
of public street will be reserved for the exclusive use of the homeowner
by virtue of the driveway and curb cut. This hardly seems fair to
the taxpayers who must pay for the maintenance and upkeep of a piece
of street they cannot use.
the house, there was the garden...
It's an ugly, antisocial house. In addition to the fact that
its construction destroyed a beloved community garden [details],
it shows a blank face to the community. This neighborhood was designed
for a combination of foot traffic and public transportation. It
was not designed for the kind of heavy reliance on the automobile
prevalent in the suburbs. Philadelphia has the second-highest percentage
of car-free residents of any city in the country, and this kind
of construction is decidedly pedestrian-unfriendly.
buildings contribute to the streetscape.
neighborhood streetscape includes many beautiful townhouses like
the one shown at left. These are the kinds of properties that encourage
pedestrian traffic. They're a pleasure to look at, and they make
pedestrians feel safer on the street, because the windows provide
"eyes and ears" in the community. And an improved feeling
of safety translates into an improved quality of lilfe for the entire
even possible to design a townhouse with ground-level garage to
minimize the unfriendliness of it at street level, as the Queen
Village townhouse pictured at right demonstrates. Here the designer
has included transom windows on the front door and a double window
just above the garage door. The owner has further contributed to
the effect with attractive container plants.
contrast, the 2122 Fitzwater house presents some eight feet of blank
brick wall above the garage door, effectively isolating its residents
from the life of the street.
wonders what sort of person would actually pay market rate for the
ugliest house on the block, a house whose construction destroyed
a community garden and one that holds itself so egregiously aloof
from its neighbors. The buyer will have to live down the house's
heritage and its anti-community design.