Post-Modern Design is NOT for the Birds

I gotta tell ya 1 West Courthouse Square building. You’ve become “that guy”. You’re the unattractive, noisy neighbor that everyone tolerates, but no one likes.

Not only is your uninspired glass box design a complete eyesore sitting next to our well-loved courthouse, not only is your layout ridiculously annoying with your pointless side entrance and giant parking deck, now you just won’t shut up.

Carl writes in…

For the last month or so, I’ve been confused by the sudden influx of tropical birds to downtown Decatur. It seemed that they were somehow nesting on the 1 W Court Sq building; and, while the toucans were invisible, they could be heard for half a mile away. I originally expressed concern about this bizarre situation but was told by someone who knows birds far more than I that this nonsense was “baby finches.”

I didn’t really understand how the “finches” were invisible, so VERY loud, and seemingly never slept. Perhaps they were adjusting to their new home atop an office building. As the weeks passed, though, I recognized that this noise simply never stopped. I began reaching out via various forms of social networking wondering if anyone knew the deal. Was this a bizarre public art project, somehow organized by AIA/D or a prank? I encountered lots of people along the way (many of whom I didn’t even know) that appreciated my question but had no answers. It seemed that either others had the same question or simply thought I had dreamt the whole thing up. I’d wondered if I could ever gain access to the roof of the building to see what was causing this noise. It became a combined source of frustration and curiosity.

Well, finally, courtesy of a conversation with Mayor Floyd, it seems that we have an answer. “It” is unfortunately neither designed for the public good (in my opinion) nor is it a wonderful new colony of endangered birds. Instead, it’s a device designed to protect the owner of the mirrored building against broken windows. All of the ruckus will theoretically frighten normal birds away from the building so that they do not crash into the glass. Perhaps that IS good for the birds, but I wonder whether all of this noise is good for anyone. If it keeps birds away from the building, doesn’t it also keep them from flying normally in the area? It’s no wonder that I didn’t ever see any nesting in nearby trees, since they’re likely frightened by what seems to be a nearby zoo.

What sort of permit did they secure for this noisemaker? I can hear it two to three blocks away in every direction. What once was amusing is now something that interferes with my morning walks. I can’t hear the normal birds, but I can sure here the artificial ones. I sat outside on the patio at Pastries A Go Go today once again feeling like I was dining at the Rainforest Café.

(I love that last line!)

The city has put a lot of lipstick on this pig over the years. Without Cooks/Sherlock’s and Crescent Moon, its parking deck would be the scourge of downtown. And don’t get me started on those crumbling stone tables/benches. But now, specifically because of its post-modern design, it also must emit noise. (My wife and I had a debate one late evening regarding this very noise. I was in the “bat” camp and she thought they were nocturnal finches. Obviously Carl proved us both wrong.)

Glass skyscrapers the world over MUST exist without this sort of device. Otherwise, from midtown Manhattan to Midtown Atlanta we’d hear only the din of traffic over the cacophony of prerecorded bird chirps. What do the big boys use to avoid bird collisions? My grandmother cut bird shapes out of black construction paper and put them on her windows. Perhaps that could be building-wide art project for its tenents?