I snapped this on Fraser Street in State College recently. A new Hyatt Hotel and Conference Center is under construction there along with luxury residential condos and other shops. It’ll bring a distinct character to the downtown area that’s lacking at present.

It’ll also be contemporary architecture, including both storefront windows and sidewalk level underground parking access. With that change on the way I took this picture to contrast some of the older architecture.

I think what you see from the storefront window on the left is a valuable example of neighborly architecture. Not only is the storefront “human scale” rather than just glass fronted, but notice the little detail of the recessed windowsill. This is a building designed for the people on the street to enjoy it—for kids or older folks needing to catch their breath or just someone paging through a book. It’s recessed enough to sit or lean for a few moments, and in doing so you’re likely to draw other passerby to notice the storefront window and the business within.

It’s of those minor details that nonetheless has the effect of contributing to a less rushed and more neighborly character to a place. I’m glad State College will have some newer, more contemporary character, but more than anything I like that both styles can live together.

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