Last night, at an event at Gallery 135, Columbia County Habitat for Humanity revealed the elevation drawings for two attached houses to be built in the 200 block of Columbia Street, on a parcel of vacant land donated by the City of Hudson. During the planning for these houses, there was much talk about design and compatibility with the neighborhood--a daunting challenge since the original architecture of that block survives in some state of alteration, has been replaced by Urban Renewal Era housing, or is missing altogether. At a gathering last winter, Brenda Adams, executive director for Habitat, gave every indication that they were taking the challenge of compatibility seriously, assembling a team with the expertise necessary to give the issues of design and neighborhood character the consideration they deserve. Given that, the design on display last night was somewhat surprising.
Basically, it's the same house they built farther up on Columbia Street--the same off-center placement of windows and doors, which ignores what is essential in 19th-century facade design, and the same attempt to achieve what passes for compatibility in some quarters with a few vaguely imitative details.
What's different in the plans for the new houses is the wood siding on the Columbia Street facade, which appears in the drawing to look like shingles or shakes. The sides and rear of the buildings will have vinyl siding.