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Offering hot yoga and skin care …with garbage on the side?

There’s a storefront about three blocks from my house that has been bugging me for a few years now, and tonight I’m calling it out. The frontage I’m talking about is actually at the back of the building, a narrow 2-story structure that stretches from a frontage on a main street to another (secondary) frontage on a quieter (but still mixed-use residential/ commercial) parallel street. The frontage on the main street is so-so. But the one on the quieter street is a disaster – and has been for a couple of years now.

The building used to house a restaurant. The restaurant closed and the building was subsequently bought and completely renovated to house a hot yoga studio. The main street frontage was supposed to have a spot for a juice bar, which never materialized and so it sits empty (it’s currently for lease). Consequently, the only thing that animates the main street facade is the entry to the yoga studio. As I said, the main street frontage is no great shakes.

But compared to the other frontage, it’s ok – if only because this other frontage is screamingly awful.

The second frontage on the quieter parallel street also has an entry to the yoga studio, as well as another retail space. For a while, that space was taken up by a doctor’s office, then it stood empty. It currently houses a skin care salon. It’s quite dead.

When the building was bought by the people who installed the yoga studio, they hired an architect to design the new “face” for the second frontage, and boy, did she or he blow it, in my opinion.

The architect didn’t take into account that the building needs a space for garbage bins – and consequently, there’s no place for them. Instead, the architect added lots of glazing to this back facade: two glass doors (one for the yoga studio, the other for the retail space), and three (!) windows, two of which are quite large and belong to the retail space.

I guess it all made sense in the abstract, but it sure doesn’t work for this building. The owners have nowhere to put their garbage bins except smack-dab in front of the windows and next to the two doors, and as a result this frontage has the worst feng shui I’ve ever seen.

Normally, I wouldn’t be superstitious, but there’s something downright uncanny about the sense of poverty and lack projected here. The retail space so far hasn’t thrived – it looks forlorn. The entry to the yoga studio looks unwelcoming: who would want their right side to graze the garbage bins on entering, symbolically carrying trash into their yoga practice? As for the retail space: I wouldn’t see a doctor who looks out on a garbage can, and I don’t think I’d want to visit a skin care salon under those conditions, either.

If this were my building and my business, I’d spend the money to take out that window on the far right. I’d install some clerestory windows instead, but I’d make sure that wall is a solid wall for about the first 4 or 5 feet, high enough to store the garbage bins so they’re nowhere near a window. I’d get rid of that useless ugly rock bed, which just screams “dead & sterile!” to the universe and every passer-by. Instead, in that spot I’d build an enclosure for the bins (to hide them), and I’d put a potted tree (or bamboo) right by the drainage pipe – a symbolic uptake (by the plant) of the abundant water that flows down from the roof. Bingo, feng shui fix! Cost? I don’t know – what does it cost to take out a window, replace it with a wall with some clerestory windows on top, and build a “house” for the garbage bins to keep them away from your good house of health and abundance? Whatever it costs, I’m sure it would pay off in the end. Somehow, the way things stand right now, you get the sense everything’s languishing. Those garbage bins are just plain repellent.

Here are two not-so-great pictures I took earlier today. There was a car parked right in front, so my photos don’t show the whole building. But you can see how the garbage bins destroy the facade, and how sad it’s all looking – the paint job was never finished (it has been a couple of years) and the building gets its share of graffiti, too.

This could be so much better…



  1. The exterior isn’t even finished. It’s like they gave up on it. The Fort St. facade isn’t any better with those old paned restaurant doors.

    Incidentally, the building (featuring the D’Ambrosio improvements!) is for sale:

    Comment by robert randall — September 21, 2010 #

  2. Interesting…! I had no idea it was for sale. Who in d’Ambrosio’s office was responsible for this “facelift”? I think it has been two years now that I can’t walk past that building without wanting to kick the designer in the shins. There really isn’t anywhere to put the garbage bins – and the designer /architect should have foreseen that and provided a solution.

    Comment by Yule — September 21, 2010 #

  3. I noticed this around the same time that you made this post. Yeah it’s ugly. Of course I always walk on *that* road too, it’s very close and on the way to stuff. Ick.

    Comment by Davin Greenwell — September 26, 2010 #

  4. It has looked like this for a couple of years now. There’s really no excuse – except that the architect didn’t accommodate trash disposal at all in his/her design for the facade. But good grief, to leave it stuck at that phase for so long is just dumb. Fix the feng shui already!

    Comment by Yule — September 26, 2010 #

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