Sunday, April 15, 2007

Urban Gas Station

I have passed this thing at 12th and Highland a few times, and every time I'm struck by it:

Urban gas station

It's an urban gas station.

Architecturally, it's no great shakes, though it's nice enough: clad in brick, with a second tone used to differentiate the base, and a small raised tower to mark the corner (this is about the only architectural gesture that owners can afford anymore, it seems.)

The building portion conforms to the most basic rules of the urban game: it's more than one story. It's compact. It's built out to the street edge. And even the pumping station shelter is fairly compact and efficient. Its driveways break the sidewalk once on each side.

Given the battered environment it stands in, the "urban" portion is a bit of an anomaly. It has a few urban-style neighbors to its west, but the streets around here have suffered great abuse at the hands of urban renewal and traffic engineering. Further westward, it feels like suburbia: empty and placeless. To the east, amid more suburban redevelopment, huge swaths of land have been blasted away by the Interstate.

But this one little business has taken one remarkable step towards maintaining a sense of place and location with this building that plays by the right rules.

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