BY DANIEL BOLLMAN, AIA
Property: 221 N. Washington Square Lansing
According to a reader’s tip, “The AT&T building on Washington Ave. is not a bad example of brutish architecture, but the windows at street level which once held a communication timeline have been left vacant except for trash and storage for quite some time.” Indeed, this great hulk of a building exhibits the typical features of the Brutalist style. In many cases, wood grain from the formwork leaves its imprint on the cured concrete. Here, the concrete aggregate is deliberately exposed. Wall surfaces are broken up with awkwardly large fins. Ribbon windows which might run in an unbroken band are broken up by rough-jointed pilasters.
The reader continues,“This dead space influences all foot traffic between downtown and LCC in a very negative way. ATT is communicating a lack of respect for its customers as well as the City of Lansing by creating this dead zone in such a prominent location.” While it is difficult to measure of the impact of empty storefronts, there is little question that streetscape continuity makes for good urbanism. It is not unusual to have informational displays when the storefront is not being used commercially. As our reader correctly states, such a treatment would benefit this stretch of Washington Square.
“Eyesore of the Week” is our look at some of the seedier properties in Lansing. It rotates each week with Eye Candy of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail email@example.com or call Berl Schwartz at 999-5061.