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Although i applaud affordable housing to the fullest extent and it should be pursued to a far greater extent than what it is, especially in the central city, I have to say one thing...I am appalled SERA won any form of award for this building. I think this is one of the worst buildings in the city from the swooping parapit to the jumbled facade this is a complete mess...in fact the $50,000 should go to paying the people who have to see this everyday.

Brian Libby

If you're talking about the swooping roof, I'm not in love with it either. But keep in mind that it covers up the ugly mechanical equipment other buildings leave exposed. Otherwise, I think you're being a little hard on these architects.


No, I agree with matt, this building is truly unfortunate, and nobody should be encouraged to emulate this structure. Those swooping roof forms are simply childish.


I agree with Matt. While I think SERA is a great firm, this building is disappointing. I have to raise an eyebrow at it everytime I pass, maybe because I feel like it's raising an eyebrow at me.

Surely there must be another way to conceal the roof equipment. I think of the whole foods building as a successful example...

I think SERA's new building a few blocks east of the 8NW8 is far more appealing. It offers a real sense of push/pull, formal interest. I hope they continue along these lines....not swoopy ones.


I may be, but I think if we have to be careful in what is awarded. If it is just for the aspects of affordable housing that is one thing. I admit that I have never been in the building and the interior spaces may be stunning. But if the award is for the entire design I have to object. The roof is bad enough, but I could handle it if it stopped there. The facade is scatter-brained and perhaps the worst part are the oversized columns that land on the sidewalk. All I am saying is that I hold myself to a very high standard, and by extension the city I live in. If we continue to applaud mediocrity or worse, no matter how noble the cause is, we will continue to see more of the same and I for one don't want that.


it looks like three people did different parts of the exterior - the balconies on the corner and well considered and nicely detailed, the overall elevations are just odd, and the "comb-over" roof in combination with the strange ground plane is truly unfortunate. union gospel mission is much more cohesive and successful as a nice background building on a budget.


It's a nice looking building. The wavy roof is cool, and lightens up the mood of the area in a playful way. The ground level entry uses concrete in an interesting way for the awning supports. When I go take a look at it again, no doubt other virtues of this design will present themselves. The negative attitudes above are interesting. I suppose they would have preferred the uninspired conformity of a John Carrol, Eliot style building there instead.


I love this building from street level, especially the rounded glass entry. From street level its very intimate. It breaks from the blocky gaudy buildings being put up by the "cool" architecture firms. It also breaks from the hidious slab design. For 8 Million its a great deal that is a plus to the city center.


and there goes the disconnect! it's very noble that it is affordable housing.. but i agree with matt, architecturally it should not be considered for any kind of award.
it's clumsy and tried too hard to create an interesting facade, but failed miserably. It lacks basic design rigor. i've seen interesting swoopy roofs, but this one is ill concieved and badly detailed.


"The Terner Prize, which comes with a $25,000 award...., recognizes successful and innovative affordable housing projects and their leadership teams. It’s administered by the Center for Community Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley." Brian Libby

I didn't do any further research on the Terner prize, but the above, brief description of it seem to suggest that 8NW8 meets criteria for the prize quite well.

This article with responding comments is a pretty small sample to be much of an indicator of public opinion of the building design, but a few of you obviously don't like it. And that's just fine, but this doesn't mean that the design doesn't merit the award, according to official criteria and the likely experienced opinion of the judges on the prize panel.

I'm glad to see that truly low income people can be the recipient of housing created for them by people that care enough to put at least a little inspiration, imagination, innovation and non-conformity into its design out of the feeling that this might help to brighten the lives of the residents and the public's perception of them.

We might have a valid interest in learning how the $25,000 will be spent. Unless someone knows otherwise, there doesn't seem to be a reason to suggest it will be spent irresponsibly.

Brian Libby

I agree with WS. Generally the public seems to like this building and some its more animated features, and the fact that we're talking about affordable and/or transitional housing with a design debate like this is great. It seems like some architects find details to quibble about, and that's fine. But I think those seeing the wood for the trees find more to praise here than criticize.

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