Thursday, April 3, 2008

Four Types of Commercial Blocks

At the intersection of Brown and Warren there is a good example of four types of neighborhood commercial building found on Dayton’s busy streets, as a study in the evolution of generic commercial typology from the 19th century to today.

Type 1 is the 19th century store. In this case we have a somewhat Italianate look, but the cornice and flat roof is not like neighborhood corner stores, but maybe more for a prominent location on busy street leading into the city, in this on one that had a streetcar line. High ceilings, and two stories give it a visual prominence, and the corner site permits the storefront to wrap around the corner a bit, with a lower blank sidewall for painted adverstising. Also, a second floor for either storage or apartments or a small workshop.


Type 2 is an early 20th century style. Decoration is a bit more subdued and flatter, but note the way this type fronts the street, with a clearly developed façade. To the rear one can see that the structure is only one story, but a 2nd story is developed to front the street (perhaps small apartments), with room for storefronts below (ground floor has been altered).
This type would be a good precedent for developing deep retail space, but still having a second floor for offices or apartments.


Type 3 is really interesting as an example of a transitional form The modern stripped look is postwar, but the concept of “parking” is still not there yet, (yet note how the building is pulled back a bit from the sidewalk, as if it wants to have some parking, but no room). Note the mixed use is still being thought of: retail on the ground floor, perhaps apartments or offices on the second. About as decorative as this type gets is the brick façade vs. exposed concrete block sidewalls rear

Type 3 is found elsewhere in the city, and some suburbs, demonstrating that the early postwar era was building in the functionalist modern-style, but had still not come to terms with monofunctionalism and privileging the auto over the pedestrian and sidewalk.

Putting it All Together: three very different styles, but the basic concept of mixed use, two stories, articulation of the street facade, and buildings held close to the sidewalk mean they all do fit together somewhat, creating a little business district.


Type 4 is the modern suburban concept of single use, one story, surrounded by parking, and held back from the sidewalk. The building is oriented to the parking, if it has an orientation at all.

Type 4 is typical new commerical construction for Dayton. The exception to this is the very special case of the UD-driven “boutique” development along Brown, a precedent that is not being followed elsewhere in the city.

As older commercial buildings like the first three are removed, Dayton’s busy streets are being rebuilt as suburbia, when they are being rebuilt at all.

2 comments:

David Esrati said...

Jeffrey,
"Type 4" is an abomination.
What was there when I first moved to South Park were grand versions of "Type 1"- replaced by a cardboard box Rally's burger joint.
The Medicine Shop was built to "reuse" the concrete from Rally's- to save a few bucks- and what we have is a crappy site plan, a crappy building- designed by a crappy architect- and it should never have been built.
So much for gateways to historic districts.
I could have a 4 year old with lego build something more imaginative.

Jeffrey said...

I remember that Ralleys! I used to get Big Bufords there and drive up to Woodland to eat them while having a view of the city from up top. Didnt know they re-used Ralleys for the pharmacy.

I figured that Brown/Warren/Wyoming intersection was pretty interesting at one time, another lost neighborhood business district. I was here long enough to remember what was on the MVH side of of the intersection; little storerfronts and a used book store.

There was also a used bookstore in "Type III", too. I bought this old 1875 atlas of Dayton and Mont County there, probably in 1988 or '89, which sort of kicked off my interest in local history.