Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bye-bye baby blue

Much as I hated to admit it, I always figured that the blue brick Midcentury building at North and Prospect would be coming down. Sitting adjacent to an empty gas station and its own parking lot, it'd be an easy sacrifice to make, to allow combination of the lots and creation of one large building site.

I was right... and I was wrong.

The blue brick building, Milwaukee

Blue building site

They tore down the blue building, alright -- much to my regret. But in its place is coming... a building of similar mass and footprint. Meanwhile, the gas station lot has got its own building already, a brand-new Bruegger's Bagels.

Whahhhh?

North & Prospect

Make no mistake, this is definitely an improvement over the vacant gas station (even when it was occupied.) But... I'm a little surprised that something more ambitious didn't arise here.

Meanwhile, the blue building will be replaced by a new branch building for the Educator's Credit Union. Trading out a two-story building for a one-story building? How does that work?

Coming Soon

The new building is purported to be a Prairie Style structure, though it's hard to discern from the rendering shown here. The architect, Racine's Genesis Architecture, does show some beautiful Prairie Style work on their web site, so perhaps it's just down to my crappy photograph of the sign.

But I miss the blue building. It's yet another case of tearing down something not just because it's old, but because it's the wrong kind of old. We need a new old instead, an older old! The style of forty years ago is never new enough, and never old enough. By the time Midcentury Modern has aged enough to be old, valued and historic, by the time we're far enough removed from its time to look back on it with fresh eyes and truly appreciate it... Milwaukee will have torn it all down.

Blue brick

Additionally, if the building absolutely had to go... I really wanted one of those bricks.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I drove past the site last night and was quite impressed by the size of the new building. I would have to guess that the new building is as tall or possibly even a few feet taller than the building which stood there before. I also would like to note that the new structure looks quite a bit nicer than the empty building that stood there before.

Andrew said...

I have to agree with Anonymous. While I miss the blue building very much, the new building is fantastic. I love how it stretches over to North Ave. The height of the new building does make up for the Bruegger's Building and it's pathetic scale.

Chris said...

We just moved to Milwaukee and are truly enjoying the city. Please continue this blog - it is a wonderful resource! Continued coverage of the up-and-coming areas of the city would be much appreciated!

The River Otter said...

At least the new Bruegger's building is street-friendly, the kind of "walkable urbanity" that I love. It's friendly and inviting from the sidewalk, even though it is a chain.
Funny how I had passed by and/or walked into that blue building so many times and just never thought about it... you have a wonderful philosophical appreciation.

gedward said...

... yet another case of tearing down something not just because it's old, but because it's the wrong kind of old. ... The style of forty years ago is never new enough, and never old enough. By the time Midcentury Modern has aged enough to be old, valued and historic, by the time we're far enough removed from its time to look back on it with fresh eyes and truly appreciate it... Milwaukee will have torn it all down.Sadly, this is happening everywhere. Southern California has lost (and is losing) many MCM buildings in recent years. Hopefully more folks (including historic preservationists) open up their eyes before it's too late.

Paul said...

I think that these new buildings are nice additions to the area, and the bagel shop is great after a cup of coffee at Alterra, but I agree with you in that there could have been something much more ambitious. At least it's bringing more business to the area, as opposed to more condominiums.

Now that the Credit Union is finished, what do you think about it? I really hesitate to call it "Prairie Style", even after all is said and done. At least it's sympathetic to the area's new style.

But are we going to be bored of that style in fifty years, too...?