In an older city like Lakewood, any new construction can appear to represent the future. Particularly if it’s a relatively recent architectural style in a city of traditional brick buildings, it’s easy to greet this as “progress.”
But glass and metal exteriors aren’t guarantees of good design, or of wise investment.
Glass wall construction isn’t actually new, even. The earliest prototype of “modern” glass buildings was San Francisco’s Hallidie Building—opened in 1918. Not exactly state of the art.
If this style is still newer than most Lakewood buildings’, that doesn’t mean it’s an advance. Professionals’ judgment of the glass wall concept is that it’s good for looking shiny and not for much else:
…designers appear to choose all-glass curtain walls or floor-to-ceiling strip windows because they make it easy to create a sleek impression while leaving all the tricky details in the hands of the manufacturers. (buildingscience.com)
One developer calls glass-walled condos “throw-away buildings” because of their short lifespan relative to buildings with walls made of concrete or brick. (Canadian Broadcasting story)
The mundane realities of metal and glass architecture encapsulate the larger deal that’s up for a vote this November: it only resembles “the future” in the sense that it’s something new, and shiny.
Beneath the surface, the proposed health center is just a medical office building. Nothing state of the art about that. Nor is there much progress in sending away jobs and economic strength. The “freestanding emergency room” concept is new-ish; there were “only” 146 of them in the United States 11 years ago. But they aren’t replacing hospitals yet, as the new hospital in Avon reminds anyone paying attention.
Sustaining Lakewood’s progress depends on knowing the difference between real assets and valuable services, and fake progress in a shiny package. We can help clear up which is which by voting against an imitation-progress deal in November.