Korte: Seeking architectural design Scottsdale deserves

We all recognize that we must begin demanding more inspiring designs from developers.

Virginia Korte

To preserve Scottsdale’s unique quality of life and live up to our reputation as a special place to live and visit, we should start holding architects and planners to a much higher standard.

Our residents expect and deserve nothing less than the best.

Believe me, I’m just as frustrated as most people with the caliber of architecture we see springing up — especially in the southern area of our city.

So last year I set out to identify what could be done to improve the situation: How can we send developers the message that mediocre design is not acceptable?

I first reached out to my old friend, Planning Commissioner Larry Kush. Larry, who has been involved in the building and development business for more than 30 years, shared my concerns about the uninspiring architecture that has become all too common.

We then included south Scottsdale resident Dana Close in our conversations about lackluster design. Dana produces the annual South Scottsdale Home Tour that focuses on mid-century and contemporary modern residences, so she has strong knowledge of our city’s architecture and design.

Jeff Schwartz from the real estate community also joined our discussions.

After several months of discussing the issue, the four of us concluded that something as subjective as “good design” can’t realistically be written into city codes. We can, however, make necessary changes to the process that is allowing these unexceptional buildings to be built.

I recently shared our group’s concerns with City Manager Jim Thompson.

Because achieving our objective boils down to addressing the approval process, he directed the city’s planning department to take on the challenge of making the criteria for the city’s architecture more reflective of Scottsdale values.

I am pleased to announce we are taking the first step on Thursday, April 25th. The Planning Commission and the Development Review Board will have a joint meeting to discuss how they can work together to do a better job of meeting residents’ expectations for our city’s architecture and design.

This is only the start. Where it goes will be up to citizens.

I hope residents will take the time to voice their opinions at next week’s meeting so commissioners understand how strongly we all feel that good architecture and great design should be the norm, not the exception.

Editor’s Note: Virginia Korte is serving her second term on the Scottsdale City Council.

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