Archive for January, 2012

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House or catamaran?

January 29, 2012

MLS/Web ID: 206287

In order to  increase the interior living space, many old house owners are tempted to enclose a front porch, an effort that seldom works.  Here the owners worked overtime.  Not only was the porch enclosed, but it double in size,  and centering the new front door only emphasized the offset location of the main house.  It looks like the house was added to the porch,  not the other way around.  I am left to wonder who advises home owners that this type of remodel will net positive results.  For a very small fee a local architect  could have suggested many ways to expand this house that would have netted a very  real gain in property value for the same investment.  Instead we are left wondering if this is a house or a catamaran.

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A peep show.

January 25, 2012

photo courtesy of David Gruol Photography

My first intro to a burger chute may have been in  a Howard Johnsons restaurant which was next to a bowling alley where my dad was on a league.  The view from the counter, where I usually found myself was of  a hand attached to a hairy arm,  presumably attached to the dirty apron in front of some stainless kitchen equipment.  The infrared heat lamps mounted in the top of the chute cast a glow from the opening and the limited view made  the scene slightly indecent, like a peep show.

Many home owners, this one included, do not understand that hamburger chutes are all about what they hide and have nothing whatsoever to do with what they show.  If, as I suspect, the goal here was an open concept, then the counter top would drop, the cabinets would go, and so would what was left of the wall.  Any architect could tell you that compromise in design usually means a thing is either in or out, never both.

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A new architectural aesthetic in far off lands?

January 24, 2012

New development homes in India are being designed by individual architects with alluring  results, especially to the weary eyes of American tract house dwellers.  Are we all so starved for variety that anything looks good, or is there really a burgeoning architectural aesthetic blossoming in far off lands?  Either way, we might experience a similar renaissance if custom homes in the US were really custom.

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What’s missing?

January 22, 2012

MLS/Web ID: 206908

It is probably safe to say that  the Palladian windows made by the likes of Anderson and other residential manufactures are overused.   As are classical pediments, shutters, vinyl columns, dentilated moldings, etc.   That said, having one of these items without the other can lead from just overused to outright awkward.   Something is flat-out missing when a pediment is placed over an empty space, like reaching for a clutch in a car with an automatic, transmission.   Any architect could have told this home owner that good design is as much about what is not there as what is.

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Are artist and architects interchangeable?

January 20, 2012

MLS/Web ID: 202076

Historically, many architects have also been artists, Le Corbusier comes immediately to mind.  Judging by this artist studio, though, I am not at all sure that the combination is reversible.  Shock value may deliver a message in a museum installation, but what does it do in the context of a suburban neighborhood?  Does this artist really want his or her home to be landmarked as the place that looks like half of a bad 1980’s contemporary style spec. house?  A real architect could have provided this artist with an elegant studio, both inside and out.

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“Second Empire Victorian”………… Revival?

January 17, 2012

Photo © Ken Zirkel/iStockphoto

Victorian architecture might be thought of as historical revival on a micro level.  It is like the whole history of architecture book exploded into pieces only to be reassembled by 19th century architects according to the sensibilities of the day.  Technically the above house is a text book example of  Second Empire Victorian or the Mansard style.  The influence of such buildings can be found across the US and many are points of interest to sight seers and old house buffs alike.

MLS/Web ID: 2419492

So if the first house is Second Empire Victorian, then what is this?  Is there such a thing as Second Empire Victorian Revival?  If so by whom was it revived?  Was it an architect, a builder, a developer?  Probably not the former, since it is unlikely that an architect would have lost the second floor, or at least the second floor windows,  and drastically changed the shape of the elevation from tall and narrow to short and wide.

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Interest on a budget.

January 7, 2012

Even the miles of dry wall and cheap vinyl wall covering that make up most of the public space in our world can be improved by the addition of an architectural gesture.  Kudos to the architect for designing a railing and balustrade that add interest on a budget to this otherwise relentless drywall fascia.