Design Blitz

I went on a walk around downtown today to take photos for this. I’m going to be honest, I had a hard time finding anything that caught my eye. I had a hard time finding anything that I thought, “Wow, this is a good/bad example of that concept!” Eventually, I just ended up taking pictures of anything I found interesting and put my top five together on Flickr.


This is building is called the Big Ugly. It is big. And ugly. On its own, it would not be an ugly building. If it had been surrounded by more like it, no one would look twice at it. Instead, it’s surrounded by the tiny shops of downtown Fredericksburg, and it looks out of place. So, bad unity. It takes up a massive chunk of the skyline, so it draws the eye, and when you look at it, it’s just a brown square. Nothing interesting about it at all.


These blocks I spotted seemed fairly minimalist to me. They’re not painted, they’re just straight, mostly flat planes of wood. They’re not even solid; they’re all made of the same half-inch-thick plywood. The fact that they don’t have the gaudy paint or funky angles you might see in other kinds of blocks makes them fairly universal and elegant. There aren’t many decoration themes where they would look out-of-place. That ubiquity that comes from being fairly invisible makes them nice to look at.


This building is perfectly symmetrical. The windows are all lined up and there’s the same number on each side. Same for columns, and I didn’t count them, but I think the bricks are also fairly even, if not perfectly the same. It’s nice to look at, because of its balance.


This wall decoration I spotted is a good example of proportion. While there are vines the whole way up, they are faint and hard to see. Since everything is roughly the same size, there isn’t one thing that stands out, but everything is on the lower half, so it draws your eye down, away from the ceiling. This would make sense in a cottage-type kitchen, with lots of activity happening below eye level rather than above it.


This building is a coffee shop. Its cheerful color makes it stand out amongst the other buildings. I was there as it was getting dark, so it did sort of blend in with the sky, but I imagine in the early morning, when they would have most of their business, it would stand out a little better. The intensity of the color is also fairly high, adding to the whole idea of “this is a place you come to wake up.”


This is colloquially known as the Purina tower, because the paint at the top looks like the label of Purina pet food. That’s not why I took the picture. I took the picture because the rhythm of the windows made me want to climb up and jump off of it. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but not a single window is in line with any other window. It’s the same on the other two sides of the tower. It’s infuriating to look at.

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