Why does new Seattle construction all look the same? KCTS explores.

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Why does new Seattle construction all look the same? KCTS explores.

With all the new buildings in Seattle, it can hardly be overlooked that there is not much variety there. But what caused so many of these buildings to have a similar – and often malicious – aesthetic?

Rick Mohler, Associate Professor and Architect at UW, is a resource not only on architecture itself, but also on Seattle history, building standards, and zoning. KCTS and Cascade Public Media produced this short film in which Mohler explains how we got to a point where a certain type of building is immediately familiar: the “larger multi-family houses with mixed use”.

Much of this is the building material itself, with a recent overuse of Hardie panels, a kind of neutral fiber cement siding – which isn’t bad on its own, but its overuse and lack of visual complexity when compared to the older Seattle brick structures contribute, according to Mohler contributes to the anonymous appearance of many new buildings.

But it is also no coincidence that these buildings copy many of the same elements. Part of the problem is that easily replicable buildings allow financiers to get a more reliable return on their investments.

“We have to build better buildings,” Mohler admits at the end.

Check out the full video below or read the full story on Crosscut.