Monday, February 9, 2009

Funky Fremont

Fremont is a neighborhood not so far north of downtown Seattle. It's considered to be a haven for artists and the slightly unusual.It's also home to a slightly larger than life statue of Lenin.

Fremont is known for its frequent, playful and sometimes interactive public art. The artful streetscapes certainly define this as a well cared for place where residents enjoy spending their time.Like all cared for places of value, Fremont takes excellent care of their alleys.In vibrant places, a little bit of extra effort can go a long way. The biggest benefit is the sense of all encompassing safety that exists when there aren't places that should be avoided along the street because they are dark and dangerous looking.Even many of the new buildings in Fremont have gone with the flow and adopted an artsy feel. The extra detailing helps keep the place feeling alive and in motion. Not all of the new construction in Fremont managed to do a good job though. This next image is of a building just across the street from the image above.It takes a lot to keep a space alive and it doesn't take much to kill it. The sterile facade of a Class A office building is one of the surest indications that an area has been identified by developers as "trendy". For an area that's been lifted out of the gutter by a dedicated group of residents, it can be maddening to have no control over the way space is used.

It has been noted that Fremont has become a bit less "Funky" over the last few years. The public art serves as a lasting reminder of the sort of place Fremont was before outsiders showed up who were willing to pay for a piece of it.One interesting aspect of Fremont is the enormous amount of unbuilt area that surrounds the buildings. Wide roads, enormous intersections, paved transit stops and public squares act as vacuums instead of magnets. If they converted some streets and surface lots to small buildings, they'd find themselves with vibrant outdoor space year round.

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