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Pill Hill


Agincourt’s contours (determined in the 2006 seminar but largely forgotten since then) have never been dramatic. Though the town is lumpier than, say, Fargo-Moorhead, that isn’t saying much.

The students in this semester’s 371 studio have needed contours more than I ever did; I suppose there’s something comforting about the textures of the landscape, its folds and dimples and pimples, that may nudge a building to the left or the right or back from “where it ought to be.” So, we looked more closely at the Original Townsite plat that was drawn in CADD by Ben Johnson way back in ’06 and reconsidered the effect of topography on the cityscape. It’s been an interesting process—if for no other reason than what they might do to some of my own designs.

pill hill001

I found a postcard recently—a real photo view of some elegant houses in Marshalltown, Iowa—that might be fairly typical of parts of Agincourt, especially The Avenue (i.e., Aincourt Avenue) where an entire 300-foot-long block front would have been shared by just three large houses, each on a 100 by 140-foot lot. If this is equivalent to the 100 Block of Agincourt Avenue N.E., then it would be Aidan and Cordelia Archer’s house on the corner and Jim and Martha Tennant’s place two houses farther down the street. The house in the middle of this view might make an interesting insertion between the Archer and Tennant houses, especially since I have yet to design what’s between them. The last house in this view (farthest on the right) wouldn’t be seen in Agincourt: that’s the site of St Joseph-the-Carpenter Episcopal church. If I had actual photoshop® skills, this would be a cake walk. Sadly, I do not.

600 block west main

Those two houses are still there, by the way, though the view is not nearly as evocative. What is it about the sepia-toned world a hundred years ago that satisfies in ways that scorched lawn and a hazy cloudless sky do not?

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