Thursday, August 27, 2009

When Ugly Is Beautiful

Ugly is not what Mike Kennedy sees in the Roanoke City Mills building^

Mike Kennedy, an architectural intern with Clark Nexsen in Roanoke and a one-time journalist of some stature, doesn’t believe buildings have to be gorgeous to make a positive statement.

He had the following response to the razing of the Roanoke City Mills silos and concrete storage vaults on Jefferson Street (partly in reference to the September FRONT cover story on great buildings):

"I may be the only one, but I'm sorry to see all those concrete silos go. I particularly liked the rectangular one. I like the look of places that show that they do something for a living.

"When I grew up in a coal town in Southern West Virginia, coal tipples, hardly anyone's idea of pretty, were as ubiquitous as 7-Elevens. 'Thanks’ to a state program to raze them, all or most disused tipples [have been] taken down.

"Time was, a rail town looked like a rail town, a coal town a coal town and a steel town a steel town. I don't miss coke ovens or mine disasters, but I miss that sense of place and identity. "Now it seems every place looks the same, the commercial blandness in one American city looks the same as every place else."

--Dan Smith story, photo

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