Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Re-purpose : Re-use

Some of the previous reuse of industrial buildings:

One use for the industrial buildings at the edge of the College Hill neighborhood is to convert them into some type of entertainment area. My friends and I often have trouble figuring out what we want to do in the evenings and on the weekends, and there is really not that much close by. Maybe we just don’t know about the happening spots in Greensboro yet, but it seems almost deserted on the weekends. I think that something close to campus that provides entertainment for college students would be nice. I think that maybe a small movie theater or a pool.

Another option for the buildings would be to put some sort of grocery store in there. It would make a good profit because it would be close to the college students who don’t live on campus and probably don’t have a meal plan; therefore they cook their own meals. Even the students who live on campus would enjoy a grocery store close by, because who doesn’t need snacks every once in awhile? I’m not sure if the existing buildings could be converted into a grocery store with all of the building and safety codes in place now, but it would be a good use of what is already there if that were possible.

A third option would be to simply knock them down and build a parking lot. I know that this isn’t a very original idea, or something that would make the neighborhood look better, but parking is a serious problem in this neighborhood. For a more aesthetically pleasing idea, they could put stores in some of the buildings and convert the rest to parking.

I think that any of these 3 ideas would add to the neighborhood, because it all includes something that would be new to the area. I know that there are stores around the College Hill neighborhood, but they could add things that seem to be needed in the area, like a grocery store, or a movie store, or a post office. There are so many different stores that could go in here that would add to the neighborhood. We are all about wanting things to be accessible to us, and driving far away to get something we need is not a popular decision. It would also be to everyone’s benefit to do SOMETHING with these buildings because they are in walking distance of campus and the surrounding residences. Doing anything with these buildings would make the neighborhood better because they are a little creepy right now. Even in the daylight, I would not want to walk past them by myself because they are huge buildings with the doors open and a few people inside. They also pose a big safety concern for children. Children are naturally curious, and no instructions not to go there would stop them. They could be seriously injured or even killed if the doors are left open on these buildings and they wander in there. I also think that making the industrial buildings into stores would improve the area because in walking past them and under the bridge, I saw several broken bottles and other potentially hazardous things just lying around. If this area got more traffic, it would be a cleaner and safer area.
Potentially hazardous places around the industrial area.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Side Streets and Back Alleys

The difference between "main" streets and "side" streets:

Today we finished up in the College Hill neighborhood. We have ventured all around this area, starting with the main streets like Tate and Mendenhall, and then went to the smaller side streets. I noticed several differences in the 2 types of streets. One is that most of the houses seem to look similar on main streets. When we observed Tate St., we filled out a worksheet that showed us that most of the houses are of 2 specific styles. When walking along the side streets on Thursday, we saw more houses that stuck out and were different, like the house in the following picture.

To me, this house looks almost like the entrance to Circuit City, like the big plug in front. Maybe it's just me.

One of the first houses we saw on Thursday, and Andrew's head.

Another difference from the main streets was the presence of fences on the side streets. This shows how people are more protective of their turf and how personal space seems to be valued more than community and togetherness.

There also seems to be a lot more problems with parking back on the side streets, which seems strange because you would think that there would be more problems out on the busy road. However, back in the side streets and alleys, people seem more territorial about parking. In the picture below, there is a personal parking lot for the 3 houses surrounding it.

There is a sign at every parking spot specifying who can park there. This shows that there is a problem with parking in this back alley.

More no parking signs. Parking must really be an issue around here.

The funny thing is, we have an abundance of parking on campus.
The parking lot.

There also seem to be a lot of historical and unique things hidden back on the side streets, like the lamp, the fire hydrant, the brick in the road, and the small house.

Older lamps.

The brick along the road indicates that the streets used to be paved with brick.

Mature shade tree like one seen previously with sidewalk built around it.

The 2 room, 2 story house.

The side streets and back alleys seem to provide a sense of exclusivity, creating what Clay would probably call a turf.
The apartment complex that is only accessible through a side street.

Walking through an alley.

Another alley.

Another thing that we saw often on the side streets and alleys were side/additional buildings, like the one pictured below.

Side streets and back alleys provide a different view of campus than the main streets like Tate St. and Market St.
View from behind Tate St. Building is Eberhart.

View from behind Tate St. Building is Mexican restaurant/sushi restaurant.

Altogether, College Hill was an interesting experience. The name, College Hill, fits perfectly with it's location between Greensboro College and UNC-Greensboro. It has edges/fronts along Tate, Market, Mendenhall, and Spring Garden. Generally speaking, the buildings are commercial along these fronts, with the inside being residential homes. We looked at the different types of homes that are prevalent in this neighborhood, and they seem to be pretty much the same. We talked about infill, and what it meant to infill something with something else. We also saw buildings that were unique and stuck out in the neighborhood, like the firehouse-turned-home, the big apartment buildings, and the church. I think that the beats in the neighborhood seem to run along the fronts, because that is the way that most of the college students that live here get to campus. It seems like the things back on the side streets and back alleys were pushed away and almost hidden from sight. I don't think that we could've gotten this much out of the experience from just driving through the neighborhood. Overall, it seems to be an eclectic, yet well-pulled-together neighborhood full of a mixture of college students and long-term residents. This neighborhood seems to have a little bit of everything, and that's what one would expect from a place so close to not one, but two college campuses.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Mendenhall Muddle

Today was a gloomy day to be walking around, but we learned a lot more about the College Hill neighborhood.

You can somewhat see the tall buildings downtown.

Piety Hill - This was the first name of the neighborhood, due to the establishment of the Methodist college, Greensboro College, and the nearby College Place Methodist Church. The word "piety" specifically means, being pious, with religious devotion and reverence to God.

West End - This name comes from it being the western area of expansion in Greensboro, and it is also the hill running west of downtown Greensboro.

College Hill - The neighborhood was renamed College Hill after UNCG was established in 1891. College Hill seems to be a fitting name for the neighborhood since it is surrounded by a college campus on either side.


Infilling a porch: We saw one example where it seemed like having another closed-in room was more important to the homeowner than having a porch. In the bottom left corner of this picture, you can see where the original porch has been closed in, adding another indoor room to the house.

Infilling a farm: From our discussion as we walked on Thursday, it almost seemed like most of the Greensboro area was previously farmland, but has been infilled to create a city. I imagine that most of the buildings that we see today sit on what used to be farmland of some sort. I guess that they were infilled because it was necessary for the expansion of the city.

Infilling a church: The massive church that we looked at took the place of several homes on the corners of Mendenhall and Walker is a great example of infill. Also, the parking lot across the street from it is an infill of previous homes. The parking lot leaves the space no good for anything but parking.

Infilling an apartment: There was one specific apartment building that looks very out of place for the area, the big brick one. Patrick said that it was built in the '70s, I think, and I assume that it was built to accomodate the growth of students from the surrounding colleges.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

College Hill neigborhood

Today we ventured off campus to begin our observations of the area surrounding UNCG. We began to walk down Tate Street towards Carr Street. Throughout the neighborhood, the building type I saw most often was the first one on our worksheet (the 2 story house with a pitched roof and front/side porch). This prevalent building type gives the neighborhood a sense of unity and togetherness. All along Tate Street, there were a few things that I noticed that rarely or never appeared. First, there was only one house that I saw that had shutters. It seemed to stick out from all of the others because of this specific addition that no other house had. There were also very few driveways at the houses closest to campus, but as we got further away, I noticed more driveways. The lack of driveways really was interesting to me because in my neighborhood back home, all of the houses have driveways and not having one would be very inconvenient for my family because we have 3 cars and my dad's work truck. Parking in the road would not work because they simply wouldn't all fit. Even in the College Hill neighborhood, it seems like driveways would be a necessary thing for a few reasons. First, the buildings that house several college students would need one for the number of cars that would be there at all times. I know that the houses weren’t originally intended for college students, but even single family residences could use a driveway if the occupants have more than one car. Second, Tate Street is a very busy street, and having cars parked on both sides of the road takes away from the space to actually drive in. We witnessed this on Tuesday when we saw the trash truck having to be navigated through the space so that it wouldn't hit the cars on either side of it. Another detail that I noticed about many of the houses were the porches, both front and side. It seems like having a meeting space that is outside of the house is very important to the neighborhood, which adds to the value of community and neighborhood.
Most of the buildings had wood siding, which requires more maintenance than other materials. It is also susceptible to termites and ants, which can be a pain to get rid of. The wood trim used on many of the houses also has a high environmental cost because if it is damaged by water or anything, it has to be completely replaced. However, it wouldn’t be terribly hard to install/replace.

There were a few buildings that didn’t fit the stereotypical house of the neighborhood: the church, the concrete-looking building, and the cubical brick building. These seem to be added at a different time to the neighborhood. I did some more research on the stucco building and found that it is an apartment building called Winburn Court, and it features several Spanish Revival elements, like the stucco walls and red tile roof. The only information about the church building that I could find was that it is supposedly the Friendship Monthly Meeting church. There wasn’t a lot of information about that place.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Assessing Value

We have now gone all around campus and I think I'm beginning to really understand what the school is about. With this assignment, we are supposed to identify the values in 3 out of 5 buildings that we visited yesterday.

I chose the quad because it seems like this is a very important historical place on campus. My aunt live in Weil-Winfield when she came to UNCG several years ago. The quad's values seem to focus on the community-type feel. In my diagram below, you can see that it is made up of 8 building with 3 on each side and 1 on each end.

An interesting thing about the quad is the trees on either side on each building and how they add to the effect of a community, but were planted there by a landscaper. That shows that maybe the campus/architect wanted to create specific values for that space.

The quad mostly houses upperclassmen and seems to have a sort of exclusivity because of that. I think that a lot of the sororities and fraternities are "housed" in this area. Walking along the pathways, you could see the decorations on the sidewalk with the symbols of sororities and fraternities. I think that the quad's values center on a community, togetherness, and unification through the symmetricality of the area.

Peabody Park is another interesting area on campus. The donation from George Peabody in 1901 created the park, which was originally 125 acres. Due to campus expansion, the park is now about 34 acres in size. I think that the reduction on the park says a lot about the values of the school and the area.

The golf course.

The walking path.

The view from the top of the golf course.

Peabody Park has been changed several times over the years due to the expansion of campus. We learned that there was a dairy on it which supplied the school with all of it's milk for a period of time. There was also an 18-hole golf course [for women] but now it is a 5 hole practice course. The fact that the campus has changed the land from park to sports/recreational area shows how the university values not only academics, but also athletics.

This is a picture of the park down in front of the Music Building.

I think that the value of Peabody Park focuses not only on athletics, but the growth of the university. Obviously, the buildings that have been built on the land and reduced the size of the park are considered important, or else they wouldn't have been built. However, the fact that the park still exists at all shows a tie to the history of the campus, which is a good value. Sometimes we get so caught up in the futuristic and modern look of things and we forget to appreciate how history has shaped it all.

The Moore Humanities and Research Administration Building, or MHRA, is located on Spring Garden St. in line with several other classroom/office buildings. This building is unique, however, because it combines both offices with classrooms. Why? I think that they are combined to show the values of togetherness and openness in the community. If you have a question from class that day, you can pop in and see the professor. It seems to make everything more accessible and a friendly environment. The floor at the entrance has ripples in the tile, which models many of the other buildings that we've seen. This gives it a sense of uniformness, in that they all belong together [from the same time period], but they are all different buildings.

Here is the view at the entrance.

Another show of university values are the bike racks in front of every building. It shows how accessible and modern the campus is, because it offers a way to store your environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Today, we visited 3 buildings: the EUC, the cafeteria, and the Jackson Library. We were looking specifically for centers in the buildings and how to identify them.

In the EUC, there are 2 main centers that I saw, and they were the 2 main entrances.

Center 1:


Center 2:

Notice how the light in the first picture draws the eye up, and the floor pattern has a circle in the middle with pieces going out towards the doors and windows. This floor pattern reminds me of the one we saw in the music building, which had a similar circle and outward pieces pattern.

Running between the 2 centers is the hallway, which acts as a spine of the building.

The following picture shows an example of a demostration/information offering that often happens in this hallway.

I think that the 2 entrances act as centers because they connect both ends of the building, with the bookstore and food court on either side of one center, and classrooms and the Information Desk at the other center. People are always walking through the EUC, whether it be to meet with friends for food, to grab a book from the bookstore, or to go to a meeting in a classroom. There never seems to be a quiet moment along the hallway.

Another place that we visited was the Library. We were told to walk in and find what we thought was the center. I chose this:

This is the mobile hanging above the spot that I chose for the center. To physically describe it, you walk into the library and go past the circulation desk. Stand in the spot where the walkway of the entrance intersects with the long hallway running across the building and that's where I was. I believe that is the center because it literally is the center of the building, and it is at a main intersection of the building. It is near the circulation desk, the express computers, the hallway to the Super Lab, and the books. You can look all around from this spot and see several different areas of the library. After explaining why we picked our centers, we walked out the library to the front and saw this:

Above the main entrance, you can see the tower.

Since this tower is 9 stories tall, it is also used for radio and satellite reception.

The last building that we visited was the cafeteria. One of the main centers in this building besides the dining hall itself is downstairs at the entrance.

When you walk in, there are many things around you: the Spartan Market, the Mail Center, the other restaurant, sitting areas, etc. Then as you walk through the hallway, you get to the stairs and the dining hall. This is a very important center for many reasons.
1. Everyone has to eat.
2. You can buy snacks and a variety of other things here.
3. If you have a package, this is where you pick it up.
4. Some people like to sit on the couches and hang out inside rather than out by the fountain.
The cafeteria serves a variety of purposes and is one of the main centers on campus.

Centers help you understand the building and its purpose more. You can also tell by looking at the centers what was important to the school when they constructed/updated the building.