Monday, November 03, 2008

A medical office building plague

Random architectural musing, while driving through the Carolinas Medical Center complex over the weekend: Do they teach classes in architectural school on how to make medical office buildings ugly?

They must, because otherwise the law of randomness would mean now and again there would be a medical office building constructed that wasn't ugly and was even, you know, agreeable to look at. Ditto for hospitals. (Presbyterian Hospital, at least the older red brick part, on Hawthorne/Queens, is the pleasant exception to this pattern.)

You'd think doctors' groups and medical institutions would be particularly on the lookout for designs that encourage people to walk -- you know, get exercise? Ward off heart disease and diabetes and obesity? You'd be wrong. Most of their buildings are surrounded by moats of asphalt parking lots.

OK, end of random thought.


Anonymous said...

I think they want less walking. You know people with bad hips, or people 12 months pregnant. Most people who go to medical buildings are sick not just out taking a day trip. It is a shame that not all building can be as “architecturally cool” as the charlotte observer building.

Anonymous said...

If the architecture makes you sick, then the doctors win.

Anonymous said...

"Ugly" is subjective.

But I think we'd all agree with the first comment: The Observer's building is one of the ugliest in town. Why doesn't it look better than it does? Is it because that's all they could afford?

Anonymous said...

Good point - the Observer building wins the ugly prize hands down.

Anonymous said...

The first commenter has it right. Function overwhelms form with pretty much anything medically related.

To paraphrase Ron White, the next time you have a random thought - let it go.

Sloan said...

The reason my blood pressure is so high is because of that dang parking deck (the one connected by a walkway to CMC) that one must use when visiting physicians in the adjoining buildings.

Inevitably I’ll enter the six-story deck behind some 80-year-old from Shelby who apparently has never parked in a parking deck before. He or she will stop at each and every vacant space, take a minute to gauge chances of successfully squeezing the Buick into it, then drive on to the next empty space and repeat the process. It never seems to cross their mind that one can move quickly to the higher, unoccupied decks, park, and then walk the same distance to an elevator as they would on any other floor. And of course in this day and age heaven forbid that one might be courteous (or intelligent ) enough to pull over and let the 10 cars behind them go on. They are oblivious to anyone but themselves.

They probably wonder why the guy in the tenth car was CUSSING AT YOU IDIOTS AFTER YOU FINALLY DID PARK. And the nurse wonders why my heart rate is elevated.

They have valet parking there. There should be a large sign stating “Shelby Patients Required To Use Valet Parking”.

But you are right, Mary. Although it seems everyone has a handicapped-parking placard these days, I’ve no doubt that includes a lot of liars. They, I and a whole lot of others would be better off health-wise walking a block or two.

stephen said...

Sloan, if your blood pressure is high because of crap like that, you really do have problems. Lighten up and have some patience.

Which buildings do you speak of, Mary? The Levine Children's building is unconventional, perhaps ugly to some, but "cool" looking and a better place for kids than most others. The other buildings look like "medical buildings". What should they look like? Don't forget that Presbyterian occupies the old Elizabeth College main building. The rest of it says "medical". Also, how many visitors to the Presbyterian campus travel down Elizabeth Ave. to gaze at the old brick building?

Don't get me wrong, I love brick architecture and miss many of the old brick buildings we used to have but medical facilities are not where I look for such.

Anonymous said...

My list of ugly uptown/near uptown buildings:

The Arlington Condo Tower

The Charlotte Observer

Duke Energy


Unfinished Park Condo Tower

Anonymous said...

The real coming blight is from Carolinas Medical Center. They're basically buying up everything near them in Dilworth, and have bought up a number of properties on East Blvd.- East Blvd. Bar, Grill, Caribou Coffee, and where that Mexican Place is. Bet they'll tear them down and put up parking decks. Right now East Blvd. is a nighttime pedestrian gem, but once CMC gets finished with it you that will all be gone.

Anonymous said...

From message #1: "I think they want less walking. You know people with bad hips, or people 12 months pregnant."
Show me a woman who is 12 months pregnant and I'll show you a woman who doesn't care how ugly the buildings are at CMC.