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Fountain Park is Fabulous

February 18, 2005 Planning & Design, Politics/Policy 1 Comment

Too many folks ignore the treasures that can be found North of Delmar. This a shame because some of the most compelling urban neighborhoods in the entire city are found on the North side. One of the best is Fountain Park.

Located on Euclid just a couple of blocks North of Delmar is this simple yet elegantly designed neighborhood around a park. You regular readers know I hate breaks in the street grid. But, every rule is meant to be broken — if done right. The oval shaped Fountain Park interrupts Euclid – drivers must go around the park to continue on Euclid. Pedestrians and bicyclists — as should be the case — are allowed to cut through the center. Fountain Park breaks the grid and in doing so it creates one of the most appealing spaces in the city. Seriously folks, if you have not seen this little gem just North of the West End you are indeed missing out.

As I said the park is oval shaped. The houses facing the park follow the oval so the facades are nicely stepped back from one to the next. These homes are quite grand without being too big. I saw only one vacant lot – an opportunity for a nice appropriately scaled modern infill. I took some pictures but I’m not sharing — I want you to see this in person.

People get all excited about buildings such as the Moolah (yes, I love it) but what I really love are neighborhood commercial buildings. At the East end of Fountain Park is one of the most spectacular:

First, the building curves to follow the street pattern. This is a lost art — most people just build square buildings these days. The composition of this building is one of the finest I’ve ever seen — anywhere. Seattle has nothing like it. Vancouver has great buildings downtown but their residential neighborhoods are a bit dull architecturally. Same for San Francisco, D.C., and most others. Scale, proportion, materials. All come together in a way that most newer buildings just don’t. This building just belongs – feeling perfectly at home with the adjacent houses. Rarely is a commercial building such a fit in a residential area.

Obviously I can see past the current condition. Hopefully you can too. The surrounding residences are being rehabbed and if someone is smart they’ll snap up this building and do a coffee house/deli/cafe/market on the ground floor. The sidewalk facing Fountain Park is just begging for outdoor dining. The old upstairs apartments would make great condos.

Only after we see past old racial lines and boards on windows will we fully realize the potential of our city. Good urbanity is colorblind.

– Steve


Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Claire says:

    Thank you for calling attention to and appreciating that wonderful building. It was one of the first buildings and one of the first *abandoned* buildings I’ve ever really noticed and loved. For K-3 I went to Washington Montessori, the school with the recess yard located roughly across the street from that building. I used to play in that corner of the yard and would frequently sit there, staring through the fence at the building and admiring it, wondering who used to use the place and if it’d ever see use again. Fifteen years later, it’s still empty. Hopefully, its future will be brighter–perhaps some enterprising person will look at that building as you have. I’m crossing my fingers for it.


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