Friday, June 20, 2008

Silver Spring to get Architectural Piece of Flair

I have to hand it to the Chelsea School. They had to be pretty ballsy to try and get one of the world's premier architectural firms to design a 85-student school building on the cheap, but hey, it worked.

[Studio Daniel Libeskind] agreed not only to provide pro-bono conceptual work by Libeskind's protégé, Robert Claiborne, but also to spearhead the campaign to raise $20 million and to help negotiate at-cost materials for the project.
The school presently has a fairly nondescript campus tucked away in the residential neighborhood that borders downtown Silver Spring, and odds are you probably never heard of it before. While somewhat hidden from the main Silver Spring thoroughfares, the re-designed school buildings would add a little architectural flavor to the downtown area. It's good to see some planned structures that are a little less generic than a lot of the other buildings going up around Silver Spring. Other examples off the top of my head are 814 Thayer and the United Theraputics HQ. You always have to wonder if anyone will still like these designs twenty years from now, though. Of course, by then they'll be considered historic by some and may be compared to works by the Italian masters.

I suppose the drawback is that they're probably going to have to hold a few extra bake sales to cover the incremental costs associated with the construction of such an Avant-garde design.

The description of the new library design ("meant to suggest the form of a book") of course immediately conjures up images of the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Who Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.

"What is this? A center for ants? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read... if they can't even fit inside the building?"

(As an aside, I question Post article's dubious statement that Silver Spring has "blocks of upscale retail". If only that were the case...)


Thayer Avenue said...

You know, there's more to like than being really, really, really, really good looking.

Thayer Avenue said...

Dammit! LIFE! There's more to LIFE than being really, really, really, really good looking.

I hate it when I do that.

Springvale Roader said...

Those of us who are neighbors of Chelsea School are excited about this for two primary reasons: first, we'll have an architectural jewel in our neighborhood that still preserves the beauty and quality of our streets, but even more importantly, having Chelsea School occupy this very desirable and huge plot of land means that we won't have a huge hotel complex or highrise complex built literally across from our homes. Chelsea School stands as a bulwark against the destruction of our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I guaran-goddam-tee you that there will be a movement to keep things at Chelsea they way they are (were).

nikki said...

Even if they never build it at the very least we will still have two Starbucks to get Orange Mocha Frappucinos at.

Anonymous said...

While The Chelsea School may have a very sophisticated design on the books, We, who live in Montgomery Hills, NOW have the envy of the rest of down county -- CUSTOM designed, fancy banners announcing your arrival to our home. Personally, I am so taken and moved by these new additions of urban visual pollution, that I'm thinking of starting a civic movement to have our community relocated west of Rock Creek. I mean we use to have big ugly billboards, now we little ugly banners. We are moving up in the world!

Anonymous said...

I agree with my brother (sister?) Anonymous I -- nothing good will go without opposition in the Seven Oaks neighborhood. Somebody will scream that this "doesn't belong in the middle of a residential area!" or demand that it be re-designed to fit the "human scale" and more conventional architecture of the neighborhood.

Springvale Roader said...

To Anonymous 12:19:

As a direct neighbor of the Chelsea School, I can tell you that I and at least one of my other neighbors welcome the new design. Moreover, the neighborhood citizens group, SOECA, has already expressed approval of this project, at least over the listserve.

It would not surprise me, though, if someone, either from my neighborhood or nearby, raises the cry of historic preservation. I don't know enough about the subject to opine whether or not the Chelsea School's building qualifies for preservation, but I can tell you that if that happens, I will speak out in favor of the project.

Anonymous said...

We, who live in Montgomery Hills, NOW have the envy of the rest of down county -- CUSTOM designed, fancy banners announcing your arrival to our home. Personally, I am so taken and moved by these new additions of urban visual pollution, that I'm thinking of starting a civic movement to have our community relocated west of Rock Creek. I mean we use to have big ugly billboards, now we little ugly banners. We are moving up in the world!

OMG, I couldn't agree more. What were they thinking when they decided to add even more visual clutter to an area already overwhelmed with CRAP! No, there couldn't have been one banner at each entry point...but four? five? And the "clever" atomic era retro theme will look dated in a few years once the fad has passed. Why not use a theme that represents the era of the community--it was built out primarily in the early 30's - mid-40's with most houses being colonial, tudor, english cottage, arts & crafts.

There will never been a comprehensive solution this cluster f of an area because it needs a radical and extreme makeover--aesthetic and functional. The surrounding community will never agree because those who scream the loudest will be those who place the needs of the individual store owner/renter far beyond the greater needs of the community

Woodside Forest said...

I'm not going to cry about historic preservation as much as I'm going to cry about the $35K per student price tag this school carries.

How is it that they're they funding this building?

I'm sure that education for this set of students, who from their appearances on the playground look to be difficult to teach is expensive.

But do they do their taxpayer funded selves any good to be building this building? Please tell me all these students are from DC!

Thayer Ave., too said...

Ah, yes, but where are the really really good looking male models to frolic around drinking the Orange Mocha Frappucinos? And can we please please please have them do the frolicking at the Jesus Chevron?

Which, by the way, is apparently in Montgomery Hills. Who knew? I wonder if they just dug those banners out of somebody's attic, where they'd been hiding them since 1978. They look like they should be flying over a roller disco queen with knee socks and feathered hair. Yeesh.

Granted, Picasso couldn't have designed banners that would make that stretch of Ga Ave look aesthetically pleasing, but these (all 742 of them) definitely make it look like it's trying waaay too hard.

Springvale Roader said...

What banners are you all talking about? Where are they?

Anyway, Woodsider, the students at Chelsea come from D.C., P.G County, and MoCo. Maybe a few come from other nearby jurisdictions.

Their tuition is paid for by the taxpayers in the jurisdictions they come from. Under the law, schools must provide appropriate education for children with learning disabilities and, if they can't, then they must pay for the students to obtain that education elsewhere. Chelsea School is one of the "elsewheres."

Anonymous said...

The banners are along Ga Ave between 16th street and the beltway.

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