Dreaming of a Better Fairbanks

I have this hobby that my mom calls "city planning".  It's not really city planning so much as it is designing spaces - including forming loose business plans.  It might be a park or a restaurant or something like that - whatever hits me.  Sometimes I wonder why I didn't get into architecture.

Anyway, I thought I'd bring up a little project that may happen in the near future and then talk about what I'd like to see happen in the city I live in: Fairbanks, AK.

My mom has some property downtown (our downtown is starting to undergo revitalization so it's more of a Let-Down/Downtown) and she asked me to help her turn her property into apartments and business space.  I can't just post a drawing yet.  I don't want to.  I'm always afraid that people will steal my designs and stuff.  I will post something once I feel that things are moving along.

I went with a neomodern design.  Neomodern architecture is a reaction to postmodern architecture that is heavily influenced by modernism and what is commonly referred to as "a futuristic look".  Below are some examples of neomodern designs.  If you are a fan of Dwell magazine, you should have a solid idea of neomodern design.




So you can see that the lines are sleek, various textures are used, fairly simple, often embraces nature into the design with landscaping and the use of natural items (wood, stone, etc), and there is an obvious rejection of traditional architectural ornamentation.  You can check out Guy Denning's (founder of neomodernism) ideas on neomodernism HERE.

If we must have a new label, let it be a New Modernism – a return to the critical aesthetic giving the artist the opportunity to create work that has some relevance to the new modern audience – an audience already familiar with ‘modern art’, where validation of quality is not founded on post-modern hyper-obsession with language and semiology and the artist is not ground into politically correct subservience. I do not see this as a retrograde step – it can be the only way forward – to let the artist communicate without the bonds of corporate and state art politics.

To those claims of ‘Art is Dead – long live Art’ – Post-modernism is dead – long live Neo-modernism.
----Guy Denning

We don't have a lot of neomodernism here in Fairbanks, but I have seen more of an incline towards it with some new buildings. My color scheme, currently, is: English Daisy, Landmark Brown, and Shutter Grey.  Also, brushed nickel.  If not landmark brown, I would opt for wood stained with minwax coffee stain.



Who knows.  I might just help with the design of some structures downtown.  If it happens, that would be really cool.

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What I Would Like To See Happen With Fairbanks

Fairbanks, Alaska is kind of like the end-of-the-road before your options are bush towns and villages.  The summers are okay, the winters are long and can get super cold.  I will list a few things, explain them, and provide my reasons for wanting them.

Roller Rink - We used to have a roller rink that was a little out of the way and a bit too close to the army base.  Growing up there was a lot of "don't spend a lot of time at the roller rink, those young army boys will get you pregnant" sort of rumors.  Not the best reputation, I know.  The roller rink was sold like 15 years ago or something and is now an ice rink.  Since then, we now have 3 roller derby teams and no roller rink.  Ironic.  I would situate the roller rink somewhere near the university or easy to get to from the university.  I would also have an "18+ Night" every week, starting at 8pm or something to midnight.

Non-League Bowling Alley - I love bowling, but our local bowling alley is pretty shitty.  Most of the time it's "league night" and when it's open bowl, you practically have to fight for a lane and find the least crappy ball.  Why not have a non-league bowling alley featuring a slew of fun nights?  "After dark" - black lights turned on, regular lights off, maybe some party lights.  Various themed nights - Pirate night or superhero night, etc with a costume theme.  Charity bowling nights, bowling for top scores, etc.  There is a lot of stuff you can do to make it fun.  I would also have two food areas that I would have contracted out, no grandfather-rights.  After X-amount of time, people can apply for the space and it is totally up for grabs.  This means food options will change.

Moondust, A Nightclub - This one has a name because I have designs and stuff tucked away for it.  Moondust is a nightclub that is influenced by comedy clubs, magic clubs, and old jazz clubs.  I would make this place have a dress code.  I do not want to see people in carhartts, even if they are new or clean.  Put on a fucking sports coat or something.  Fairbanks does not have any restaurants or places with dress codes.  I would have a minimal menu and a full bar.  The club would change night-to-night.  It might be musicians, circus acts, vaudeville acts, cabaret, burlesque, open mic, comedy, magic, hypnotists, films, etc.  I would also employ a small house jazz band called the Moondust Orchestra that would play at least 3 nights a week.  Moondust would provide a whole new nightlife option for people.  Right now, you can go to a bar, go see a movie, maybe go bowling...sometimes there's a theater production...sometimes the concert association brings up musicians....um...I think that's about it.  I've stopped going out at night because movies are too expensive and I tend to stay away from the bars now.

Big Name Stores - I'm not usually a huge fan of box stores, but here are some that I would like to see here in town: World Market, H&M, Whole Foods, Kohl's, and Burlington Coat Factory.  We have some stuff in town, but I would just like to see more.  While I support local small businesses, I have yet to find a small local business that carries everything I need or want.  I do love Sunshine Health Foods - quick shout out to them.

Hipsters - I am not big on hipsters (they're often ridiculous), but they help make changes happen.  Fairbanks needs to have some places that kind of cater to these folks.  Maybe a Dave & Busters or a micro-brewery or a men's-only barber shop that serves you a shot of whiskey while cutting hair (there is a place in Portland, OR that does this) or something else along these lines.
Nice parking lot.  What a great use of prime downtown space.


In the summer, you can find drunks and homeless in this area!
Revitalize Downtown - This is something that is underway.  Most locals will tell you that parking is a problem downtown, yet they refuse to utilize the parking garage that was built a few years ago.  Downtown is home to low income homes, assisted living, probation offices, the court house, and a ton of law offices.  Sounds like an awesome downtown, right?  There are some tourist shops and a few shops that cater to the locals, and a bunch of restaurants.  I find that there really isn't a good reason for me to go downtown, unless I'm going to my mom's shop - which is a block outside of the central downtown area.

Another big issue for downtown are the summertime drunks and homeless.  A lot of the time, they're in from the villages (which are dry - aka alcohol free) and they totally just booze it up.  You can see the lovely downtown water-front park in the picture to the right.  They can often be found there or on the foot-bridge (also in the picture).  It's not just people from the villages, there are local homeless people who do this too.  I think there is actually a fairly new city police division that just patrols downtown for this sort of thing.  Someone out there is saying that I'm being unfair, but I know a lot of people who avoid downtown because they don't want to be harassed.
4th Ave.  What lovely storefronts... *eye roll*

It would be nice to see some more boutique shops open up, but the storefronts are very closed-off.  A lot of the buildings are these postmodern bland things.  I mean, they have some style, but they are bland!  The two buildings in the photo here were built in 1962.  They are not welcoming at all.  They don't say "shop here".  It's more like "we're full of offices and stuff...and just, go away unless you know that you need our services".   Now that I think about it, our downtown is fairly accurate in the representation of the majority of people in Fairbanks.

I'm just going to put it out there that a building with retail and office space on the lower two floors, parking for building residents, and two or three floors of modern apartments would send our downtown in a whole new direction.

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