Guest commentary: Carvana tower a bravura performance architecturally

Guest commentary: Carvana tower a bravura performance architecturally

The 12-tale tower at 2201 Westwood Ave. is Carvana’s 30th car vending device in the

The 12-tale tower at 2201 Westwood Ave. is Carvana’s 30th car vending device in the place, and one of its tallest. (BizSense file)

Have you noticed the architecturally-startling, glass and steel, 12-tale Carvana higher-increase car vending device at the intersection of Westwood and Hamilton avenues close to I-195? The knowledge built me informed of other towers about town, aged and new.

The Hogwartsesque granite clocktower of Previous Town Corridor downtown is undergoing restoration as part of a enormous makeover of the Virginia Standard Assembly business complicated. The twin towers of the Jefferson Lodge, a glorious Renaissance revival marvel on West Franklin Street, are becoming cleaned and repointed. In the meantime, inexplicably, the modernist bell tower of the Belgian Friendship Creating at Virginia Union College at Lombardy Street and Brook Highway has been marred given that big initials, “VUU,” ended up affixed to its peak, earning it a mere signpost. Extra pleasantly, just a number of blocks south of the VUU campus, a standalone, 12-tale apartment tower is below design on West Wide: It transforms architecturally this previously unrelentless horizontal extend of West Wide Street.

But it is the just lately completed Carvana tower at 2201 Westwood Ave., a giddy celebration and container of utilised cars and trucks, that has neighborhood people atwitter. I was standing in a downtown theater foyer in the course of the New Year’s weekend when an in-the-know couple button-holed me: “The neighbors are in an uproar in excess of that making,” the spouse gushed, “What do you believe?” I explained to them that I found the crystalline framework a fresh addition to the cityscape. Besides, when was the last time the chattering class acquired even mildly riled up about a new making? (Almost certainly in 2018 upon completion of the Institute for Contemporary Art, the Steven Holl Architects-built assertion at Wide and Belvidere streets)

WHN Architects of Charlotte, N.C.-intended Carvana’s international-type superior rise that can screen 43 cars. Catamount Contractors was the builder and Kimley-Horn the engineer. The framework is a mix vehicle exhibit circumstance, holding facility, and auto vending device that awaits shoppers who have prepaid on-line.

“At the very least the autos aren’t unfold out on a floor parking good deal,” mentioned one of my buddies. Carvana does own a 183-acre automobile processing whole lot in Chesterfield County wherever cars and trucks await shipping to the in-city vending tower.

“Are the vehicles serious?” is the query a friend’s center school age daughter questioned her father when they not long ago drove by the Carvana tower.

It does have the aura of a mechanical toy because this automated auto shipping and delivery procedure pushes out a car or truck like a cuckoo clock expels a cuckoo chook, only at a reduced amount. It’s thus not shocking that the company of the mechanical program is Nussbaum Corp., a family-owned operation based mostly in Kehl, Germany in the southwestern location of Baden-Wurttemberg where by the cuckoo clock was perfected in the 1600s.

If the 12-story glass tower and its movable sections provide appreciable drama, the foundation of the tower is a conservative, brownish-hued brick framework that consists of offices and a detailing bay.

The meshing of towers and vehicles has extended fascinated architects and engineers. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was engaged in 1924 to structure an automotive tower of kinds for the top rated of Sugarloaf Mountain around Frederick in the Maryland countryside for Gordon Powerful, a Chicago-based entrepreneur. Wright devised a spiraling ramp, created to entice motorists up to overlooks, eateries and an observatory. The shopper, even so, pulled the plug when he sensed that there was way too significantly Wright and not enough character in the plan. Several years afterwards, in 1947, Wright tried unsuccessfully to build a 14-story parking tower in downtown Pittsburgh, a idea that flummoxed city planners.

Much far more basically, I bear in mind looking at for the initially time as a teen in 1966 the stack hydraulic parking lifts together the New York Metropolis sidewalks, up coming to Broadway theaters or wedged concerning Soho iron front warehouses.

So, in spite of the response of Richmond’s West Finish or North Aspect residents, on Richmond’s Westwood Avenue Carvana has upped the ante in a refreshing way with its 30th car or truck vending machine nationwide. Our lifestyle is about very little if not about cars, so for a neighborhood in search of topics for new monuments, what’s a lot more American than a tower of autos, in particular overlooking an interstate highway?