I recently stumbled upon an article from California Home and Design listing the top 25 buildings around the country that deserved to be demolished right now. The article lists a number of different kinds of aesthetically displeasing buildings, from city halls to malls to whole neighborhoods. While browsing some of the worst architectural and functional buildings from around the country, I could not help but wonder, what would a similar list look like if it focused on Stockton? Well, look no further. Using absolutely no real criteria, I have compiled a completely biased list of the top five buildings in Stockton that deserve to be demolished. These are the most unattractive, least functional buildings in the city, according to me. Here they are, in no particular order.
The AT&T building
Downtown has many beautiful buildings, but this monolith on the corner of Hunter and Lindsay Streets is not among them. The soul-crushing minimalism of this brutalist style building makes it an eyesore, with a nearly windowless exterior, box shape and dull facade. The seven story structure looks more like an evil fortress of doom than an office building.
This is a no brainer. At one time in the city’s history, Stockton had a beautiful courthouse, featuring neoclassical architecture and amazing detail. Sadly, the building was demolished in 1961 and replaced by our current courthouse. The differences between the two could not be more stark. While the old courthouse was stately in nature, the “new” courthouse was a typical modernist monstrosity, with a pebble facade and jaundiced-tinted windows. Throw in the massive antennas atop, and you have the ugliest high rise in Stockton. It is no wonder the building also doubles as a fallout shelter. Thankfully, the courthouse will not be gracing Stockton’s skyline for much longer, as a new courthouse is coming down the pipeline. Obviously, we need the extra space as evidenced by a number of high profile incidents involving the inadequacy of the current structure, but the design for the new court house looks to be a major upgrade as well.
Fremont Street Parking Garage
One of the major aspects of the waterfront entertainment complex constructed in the mid 2000s was a parking garage capable of holding up to 592 vehicles. Unfortunately, while the garage’s function is clear, it is probably the ugliest part of the project. The garage itself is a typical structure, but the way it affronts Fremont Street creates an extremely unpleasant streetscape. Other projects attempt to hide the ugliness of their garages through nice facades, banners, or creative use of surrounding structures, but the architect for Stockton made no such attempt. The worst part is, the placement of the garage will make developing the lots on the other side of Fremont difficult, because no one wants to have a view of a giant, lifeless parking lot. The city should have either buried the parking lot (though that would have most likely been prohibitively expensive) or wrapped it with office space or something similar so that Fremont Street patrons would be spared the sight of a hulking garage. Wells Fargo recently foreclosed on the lot, I would not be sad if they decided to demolish it.
Although the stress and anxiety of making a trip to the DMV may be reason enough for residents to favor demolition, Stockton’s DMV office makes the list for a different reason. The new DMV on Market and Lincoln Streets downtown is certainly an aesthetic and functional upgrade from its predecessor, but the new location seems puzzling. I have no idea why or how the new site was selected, but I do know that the low-density nature of the building makes it a poor use of downtown real estate. DMV offices, by nature, require a large enough parking lot to accommodate parked vehicles as well as to administer driving tests. Unfortunately for downtown, a DMV parking lot does not bring in any revenue nor make the area more attractive. Moreover, a single-story building, which could be found in any strip mall or shopping center, wastes the opportunity to build a structure that can provide more revenue per acre. If the new DMV was part of a larger mixed use project on the same site, it would make more sense as a larger building housing offices and commercial space as well. As regulars of the site know, I have written before about the merits of building densely downtown. While a sparkly new DMV downtown may seem like progress, to me, the decision to build a one story, parking lot-heavy project seems like a waste of what could become desirable downtown real estate in the future.
Park West Place Wal-Mart
Readers of the site will not be surprised at this selection as I have made no secret of my disdain for the giant retailer. As far as I can tell, the new Wal-Mart in Spanos Park West store actually looks pretty nice, but the fancy facade does not hide the economic consequences of the town’s second Super Wal-Mart. You can read all about it here: