Move along, please.

The Stunning Conclusion: The Ugliest Building in WRJ


Submitted 8 months ago
Created by
Anita Hamalainen

For those waiting on the edge of their seats for the follow-up to The Ugliest Building in WRJ, I have disappointing news. After some back and forth with a couple people at Consolidated Communications, I was ultimately told that current interior renovations prohibit me from getting a tour. I took the hint when I was given no expected date of completion.

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After my final phone conversation, I also got the impression the new owners did not appreciate me calling attention to the telecommunications building and the purpose it serves. And no, I was further told, a mural was the antithesis to their don't-make-eye-contact architectural approach to neighborhood relations. Paraphrasing a bit. Sorry, lovers of beautiful murals, there will be no masterpiece on the bereft brick canvas on the building's north side.

There were quite a few readers hopeful to get a peek in, so we'll just have to imagine what the inside of this massive structure looks like. Since I already made clear my thoughts on the underwhelming exterior, I'd like to pretend that the interiors are phenomenal, leaving me in euphoric design disbelief. In fact, this is how I propose we collectively pretend they look:

Please tell me there's a chocolate river inside.

(photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Taking a step back, I've learned two things from writing about this major building in White River Junction's downtown. First, I reject the notion that a building can disregard "good design", subjectively speaking, just because its function is sensitive. There's always a place for carefully considered architecture which respects the surrounding environment and the people who use the building. Architecture doesn't have to be showy to be attractive, and a building can be attractive without drawing undue attention.

Second, I discovered that though I (and others) find the exterior of this building unattractive, it holds beautiful memories to many people in the Upper Valley. A reader in her 80s added a comment about the years she worked in the building, earning a good wage while she single-handedly raised her children. Another reader shared his memories of visiting his dad, noting how the business and the surrounding downtown were changing.

I was struck by how emotionally invested some locals are in this building, despite its shortcomings-- invested enough, in fact, to post heartfelt comments at the bottom of my post. I appreciated their input because it added context to the building and its historic role in the town.

The intention of my Design L'UV posts is to raise architectural and design awareness in the Upper Valley by celebrating the good in our built environment and being critical of the bad. What is "good" and what is "bad" is subjective to a degree, so I welcome all thoughtful opinions.

And so, for the sake of national security, I'll mix it up and next write about less sensitive design issues like the merits of synthetic versus natural materials in woven floor coverings.  Stay tuned!

Oh shucks, I did it again-- you're probably back to the edge of your seat.

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