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Why great residential architecture doesn’t pay

by Chad Ludeman on December 29, 2007 · 9 comments

in Philosophy

I just came across this article by Daniel Akst in the Metropolis magazine via the LamiDesign Modern House Plan Blog. It is very relevant to this project and the difficulties of building, financing and developing modern homes in the US right now. The text is a bit small but it’s worth scooting your face a bit closer to your monitor for a quick read.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dave December 31, 2007 at 7:27 am

I think we’re turning the corner on the typical house design. I’m definitely noticing more modern house designs in new houses that I see being built. I wish it would happen faster, but at least it’s happening. It seems inevitable to me anyways, I seriously doubt we’re going to be building fake historical styles in 100 years from now, so there will come a day when everything is modern. I think the baby boomer generation tried to resist modernism, but they’re fighting a losing battle, and now their kids are reaching the age where they’re starting to buy and build homes and don’t want a tacky fake historical style house if they can avoid it. Fake architecture is old and busted, modern is sleek, sexy and sophisticated.

2 chad December 31, 2007 at 4:28 pm

Great point. Just added your blog to our blogroll.

3 Dave December 31, 2007 at 8:41 pm

Something interesting I’ve noticed is the trend in the design of low-rise condo buildings and townhouses where I live. I know it’s not single-family housing which is what this post is talking about, but I think it’s relevant because it shows which way general residential design is going. So anyways, until recently, in my corner of the world and many other places, the most common thing to see get built in either single-family houses or low-rise condos and townhouses is what I would describe as poorly designed fake craftsman or tudorbethan style. Basically, take a wood frame box, throw some pointless ornamental gables and/or dormers on it, then call it either “craftsman” or “tudor” and that was the typical thing that would get built. From the late 90s to the early 2000′s, that’s pretty much all that got built here, it will be remembered as a horribly tacky era in architecture. Now, in the last year or two, low-rise condos and townhouse construction has almost all gone to a more modern style usually with big windows and either angled, flat or curved roofs.

So what does this have to do with single-family homes? Well, until recently both single-family homes AND low-rise condos and townhouses were guaranteed to be the same fake “historical style” nonsense, but then things started changing in the condos and townhouses to a more modern style and now I’m starting to see single-family spec houses go that way too, and I think it’s because the spec builders are following the lead of the condo and townhouse builders, since spec house builders are generally followers and rarely leaders. When you think about it, it makes sense that condos and townhouse lead the way because they’re much more likely to be designed by an actual architect than a spec house which is just designed by a draftsman. In my observation, architects tend to love modern design, and push developers to lean towards it whenever they can. In the late 90′s/early 2000′s, they were probably supressed by developers who demanded the fake craftsman stuff because that’s what they thought would sell the best, but architects kept pushing for more modern designs and occasionally the odd developer would agree, and a nice modern development would sprout up and would get attention and sell well, then another, and another, and eventually developers realized that society was accepting of modern designs, and not only would the fear that they would lose their investment be gone, but they would see modern design as a great marketing opportunity. So this is where I think we’re at now, it’s still early days in the move back to modern, but I definitely think it’s happening, and a year or two from now there will be no question that modern is back, hopefully for good.

4 Dave January 1, 2008 at 12:02 am

I should mention that I love true craftsman architecture, I just can’t stand the fake stuff that pretends to be something it’s not.

Also, thanks for the blogroll link :)

5 lavardera January 1, 2008 at 4:02 pm

I think its the younger buyer going into a condo who is more likely to favor the modern image for their purchase. The modern condos sell better, the small developers copy that success. When these owners outgrow their condos they will want single family homes of a similar spirit. The developers will follow the demand.

6 Brandon January 2, 2008 at 12:40 am

You mentioned the text being very small on the article, which it is. If you’re using an Apple computer and running either Firefox or Safari follow these simple steps to increase/decrease font size in your browser.

First, give yourself a pat on the back for your great taste in superior hardware and web browsing software.

Second, hold the “Apple” key and press the “+” button to increase font size or press “-” to decrease the font size.

This should work for any HTML based text content. PC users should just have to substitute the “CTRL” key for the “Apple” key. Hopefully this will help some people out in the future.

7 chad January 2, 2008 at 12:49 am

Thanks for the tip. I knew there must have been a way to do this. I’m a bit new to Mac and still trying to figure out all the shortcuts on my iMac…

8 Gay Glassman January 2, 2008 at 8:23 am



9 chad January 2, 2008 at 6:45 pm

We don’t have stock plans yet but do plan to release some in the future… Thanks for the interest!

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