Friday, January 07, 2005

Bowled over

bowling alley
AMF Durham, January 2005

I love the design of the AMF Durham bowling alley. It's one of a vanishing type. It apparently had a makeover at one point (maybe somebody around here remembers?), but the new design is cool like the old one, with nice modern lines.

old bowling alley
AMF Durham, date unknown

Something else is interesting when you compare these pictures. Much of the success of mid-century modern design depended on setting, scale, and landscape. Note the clean lines in the old photo. In the new, note the difference the trees and shrubbery make! Also, if you're familiar with this stretch of 15-501, you know that the whole prospect of setting and scale is hopeless by now.

Not so much so back when the Travel Time Inn was still next door, which, though it descended to a ratty motel, at least did not dwarf its surroundings.

The Travel Time Inn--which I, usually not dyslexic, for the longest time called the "Time Travel Inn"--recently gave way to a huge Toyota dealership. Mark Jacobson of Mark Jacobson Toyota is probably wishing he could do some time traveling, for he currently faces steep fines plus the wrath of many in Durham.

The building doesn't just seem too much for the site: it is too much. The Durham Planning Department is after it for extensive, "flagrant" violations. As detailed in the Durham Herald-Sun (and at News 11), the site has 60 light poles that are too tall, it has concrete where there were supposed to be trees, and more, evidencing "a basic disregard for the site plan approved."

UPDATE: Kudos to the Durham planning director for insisting on real fixes to "the single most egregious failure to comply with a site plan that I have seen in my career."

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