The one that got away


For whatever reason, sometimes what could have been a great project was canceled mid-design, or was never built.  What was the one most devastating project that could have been...and how long did it take you before you stopped being bitter about it?   

Apr 25, 19 2:05 pm

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Had a project where we were asked to do preliminary designs, but knew it was going to go through procurement for A/E selection.  The goal with the early designs was to help the Owner with a short design time and get their project on the street before summer.  Over $60k in office time later, their committee selected another firm using a numbered ranking system.  

We're coming up on when the project was supposed to be done.  I'm waiting for that result so I can smugly say "I told you so" while licking the wounds of being paid nothing for second place. 

Apr 25, 19 2:21 pm

I worked on a competition master plan for a new university-centric town center in Mexico. We did an amazing ecologically-sensitive scheme that was integrated with the landscape (stunning desert arroyos and bluffs) hid the parking, and referenced vernacular Mexican building typologies in the development of a variety of spaces.

We didn't get it and they basically built an air-conditioned mall.

Apr 25, 19 2:27 pm

That’s painful


Straight out of grad school I took a job at a startup aiming to bring Design, construction and development under one roof. It was a bold but not unrealistic idea. They had a decent amount of investment, a handful of properties, and a stellar design team on board.

Long story short the entire firm abruptly collapsed less than two years in. We had some really fantastic designs on the boards, and not a single one made it to construction. Last I saw, the project I'd been captaining had been entirely re-designed by an outside firm. The difference in design quality (and sustainability criteria) is depressing for me and should be embarrassing for them.

I'm still a little bitter, but at least I got some nice portfolio renderings out of the gig.

Apr 25, 19 2:28 pm

Before & After..




what city is that rendering in?

Non Sequitur

ah, that L shape in 2nd image makes me very angry.


Portland, OR. There are a good 5-6 other examples still findable around the internet.


Is this the before/after from the design your firm did vs the new firm? Is the second one supposed to be the "nicer" design? I like the first better, the second one is in every city in the country I feel like.


Before was the design I worked on. After is the budget-faux-modernism that's taking over every American urban area.

Witty Banter

That's painful to look at.


Rendering looks like a NYCHA mandated project that met bare minimum compliance requirements. Brick. Tiny windows. Balconies are waste of property line space. What was built looks like a podium building somewhere in Nashville. Top 4 floors will burn down to the podium during the next heat wave that also shuts down the sprinkler system.


The corner building is lovely, but the back seems to have been infected by too much trendy. I'm not a fan of inverted ziggurats. The materials are stellar and the simplicity is refreshing.


The randomly placed balconies are an improvement though.

Non Sequitur

About 4-5 years back, I along with the name partner in the office were working on a modest 6 storey office building expansion to an outdated shopping centre just within the urban city boundary.  

Design included a partial renovation of the commercial space as well as a generous extension of the ground floor retail but the real kicker was that this office building was to be incorporated into the in-progress light-rail transit station.  We even went as far as to design the connection bridge into the new building and convinced the city to change it's construction schedule, as part of our site was already leased to the city as rail staging space, to allow us to complete the project before the $5-billion (phase 1) was to be completed.  City approval for project was pretty-much guaranteed at this point since they saw this as a great "gateway" building to the new train station.

That project fell-through mid DD and we ended up only renovating a few retail spaces instead.  The land owner directly adjacent to our site tore down a bunch of big-box store shells and set up a 20+ storey appartement tower. It would have been great to follow-through on the design and the timing just worked so well.  Still think about it every time I pass by the site and see that 20+ story building. 

Apr 25, 19 2:34 pm
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A modest yet awesome project that I designed all the way to CDs seemed too good to be true...and turned out not to be true.

An eccentric woman with a very beautiful old home (rare in these parts) hired me to completely redesign her landscape, which was basically non existent.  The property wasn’t huge, but her budget was grand enough to do something awesome.  She was knowledgeable, but not too knowledgeable.  Wealthy, but not too wealthy.  And, she was very open minded and loved design.  Her home was filled with cool artifacts from around the world.  She had good taste in furniture.  The kind of client you wish for.  

Her requirements were simple.  “I want 3 fountains, and many mature plants because I’m not going to live forever.”

She paid on time.  She was enthusiastic the entire process.  

The result was something I’m sure could have really helped boost my firm.  

Then she completely flakes out.  “I changed my mind...I’m selling the house and moving to California with my daughter”....but but how could you sell that house?  You’ve been there since the 80’s.  It’s one of a kind....” 

The care I invested into this project.  The details were spinning in my head for months day and night...

I’m still upset every time my eye catches the plans sitting there on the shelf...The paper will probably turn yellow before I get over it.

Apr 25, 19 3:15 pm

Send a copy of those plans to the new owner. I've had more than one seemingly-lost-forever project finally go forward when the new owner found the plans somewhere in the house.


ouch. This is one of the things that scares me most about launching my own practice.


This one!

Apr 25, 19 3:17 pm
Non Sequitur

It would look taller if you trimmed those bushes a little... Also, it pulls to the right.


I will consult my design consultant D. Curtis.

Non Sequitur

I am sure you'll be hearing from his lawyer soon enough.




poop876, looks better than some of the high-rises I've seen.

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