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Architects? Really?

Posted by jsfox (My Page) on
Tue, May 7, 13 at 10:46

I've browsed off and on here for a couple of years as we near building a new house (we begin design in August, plan to break ground in Sep 2014). Two recent threads really got me to thinking about architects.

Both are houses designed by architects, yet are closer in design level to what is often referred to around here as Builder Plop - houses designed by builders who have no design are architectural training (or skill) and plop something down on paper that they can plop down on a lot.

We built our current house 25 years ago and we've talked to and met dozens of architects over the past couple of years. There are certain design elements that they all adhere to regardless of style, size of structure, and budget.

For example, all understand the relationship of shutters to windows and won't utilize shutters that are not proportioned correctly. If necessary, instead of shutters, they'll design other ornamentation that fits more properly with the style and serves the purpose. One told me "if a house is designed and proportioned correctly, you don't need fake shutters."

That last line was from an architect who specializes in affordable houses and believes that people are much happier in a well-designed and aesthetically pleasing 1200 sq ft house than a poorly designed 2000 sq ft house.

They all also decry fake facades, no matter how well done, and strive to make all sides of every house equally appealing. They pay attention to overall proportion and avoid massive congealed surfaces.

BTW, I'm not a huge believer that an architect or AIA architect is critical as there are many non-architect designers and builders who produce exceptional designs, but generally someone being an architect did provide some level of assurance that the end result would likely be a good design. (FWIW, the person we've chosen to design our new house is not an architect, but has designed many exceptional houses.)

Has the McMansion craze drizzled down and so permeated things that even architects are ignoring design and aesthetics? At one time there was a vast difference in an architect designed house (regardless of style, size, or budget) and builder plop. Is that no longer the case?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Architects? Really?

Consumers demand what they see. Tasteful or not. Many come on here looking for suggestions to tart up something that doesn't need tarting up. Even a good architect has to pay the bills when a client asks for dreck. It's their role to suggest otherwise, but to give them dreck when they ask for it. There are darn few anyone's in the design world that have the financial stability to be able to fire clients because they have poor taste.


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RE: Architects? Really?

After reading the many floorplan reviews here on GW, I concluded that deviating from a few basic designs is frowned upon. People want the "builder plop" because it is safe and promises good resale chances.

If I were an architect, I would only work on residential "designs" if I could afford dropping builder plop clients or if I was starving. People's tastes and demands are soooooooo boring.

I know it's offensive to the audience here but why do you all bother building custom homes that all look like fancy tract homes or something from a home plan magazine from the grocery checkout?


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RE: Architects? Really?

hollysprings, I agree with you, but think that's only minimally the issue. It seems, based on comments from posters, that these architects are putting this dreck (great word) forward and not necessarily at the clients request? They're offering dreck up. They're not seeming to be making any effort, or don't even know better, to suggest to clients that something is dreck.

That's a key reason I hire an architect or designer. To tell me when my ideas stink!

This post was edited by jsfox on Tue, May 7, 13 at 13:12


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RE: Architects? Really?

"That's a key reason I hire an architect or designer. To tell me when my ideas stink!"

You only have to look at almost any thread on here to know that you are in the minority here. There are a whole lot of people who come on here wanting a love fest for bad design. They want stroking, not critiquing.

Some of that is understandable. Building is scary. They want reassurance that the largest expenditure of their life is well within the bell curve of NeoCrap that is so popular at the moment. HGTV has created a nation in fear of offending some nebulous future buyer with "poor resale value".

The biggest issue is that a lot of people simply don't have the discrimination to evaluate design. They DO understand popular looks as being popular, but not the underlying principles of orientation, proportion, repetition, etc. Instead of searching for someone who can create something that suits their family and life AND still maintains good design principles, they give in to the easy and cheap. Worse, they DEMAND the easy and cheap. The Twinkies and Big Macs of plans. Just maybe "customize" that Twinkie by using a chocolate filling instead. Then it will be a "custom" home.

The Usonian idea of design is dead and buried. Utilitarian and attractive won't do anymore, even in a modest build. Everyone wants a kitchen the size of a basketball court and as many gables as they can cram onto the exterior.


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RE: Architects? Really?

"....and as many gables as they can cram onto the exterior"

Snort! Almost choked on my coffee on that one! Well said. We are creating a nation of (not so)" Little houses made of ticky tacky". With a lot of gables, of course. It's so very sad and only furthers the inability of distinguishing one region from another. The stores are all the same, the restaurants are all the same, and the houses are blurring together. If you were blindfolded and plopped in the middle of a town you'd never know if it's Hooterville, TN, Dry Gulch, NM or Frigid, ND - it all looks the same now. :-(


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RE: Architects? Really?

People seem to have strong opinions about architects when they have only met and interacted with a few of them for limited periods of time.

I have worked closely with architects in school and in firms for 50 years and I would not know how to make a useful generalization about them or to characterize them other than to say the ones I know are unusually good looking and smart.


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RE: Architects? Really?

In design school you are not really taught taste and discernment, you are taught the technical skill you need to design a house that can be built (with or without the additional help of an engineer, depending upon the type of program you do).

Many of the successful but independent-thinking architects out there have either started with some money of their own or were lucky enough to get a client or to that was both in sync with this independent thinking and could afford this. I speak from the standpoint of an interior designer, but if you look at a lot of designers who are really successful, they are married to someone in finance, real estate, or construction (or come from this family background) --who had enough money to back them and/or to get their work out there and noticed.

There are a lot of successful architects out there, though, that are successful only through the volume of churning out exactly what people want, which right now is what I call "The rectangle of Seven Gables". Often these houses are impractical and not very attractive, but it's the prevailing common taste. There are a lot of "Thomas Kincaids of Architecture" out there, who have millions in the bank, while most architects are notoriously underpaid. We see the familiar names in here all the time, I won't mention them, but most of the work is hideous--and very popular.

But do you know what else is an example of a prevailing common taste? The Ford Edsel, which was a car designed with more planning stage consumer input and pre-marketing study than ever before. And look how that ended up, a design that was overwrought, and had no market niche--it was too expensive for the public that designed it, and too tasteless for many who could afford to buy it.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Well, what do you think of our architect's work? Floor plans and elevations?? I'm nervous to hear what your response is. But will appreciate any feedback from you since you seem know good architecture. Thanks!
http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/build/msg0516405331388.html?19


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RE: Architects? Really?

I will give my opinion in the actual thread rather than have this one veer off course.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I'll have to take a slightly different view. I think what we see presented here on this forum in the "custom" vein is a very narrow group of potential home builders who are confident enough to step outside the traditional plan book, but not confident enough (or not deep-pocketed enough) to go truly custom from the ground up. These are folks who very much want to think inside the box -- provided the inside of the box can be tweaked just how they want it. Then they turn to the architect to make sure the outside still works, to some degree, along the lines of whatever picturesque style they originally envisioned. That means Thomas Kincaid and lots of gables and quirky windows.

But what I'm seeing in spec houses now is much simpler than that. Much of it is historically referenced, in a Nouveau Craftsman or Nouveau Tudor vein. The 1990s era of double-height entries with palladian windows and odd dormers seems to have faded from the "builder plop" vernacular -- at least here in Alabama.

So, I don't think it's the builders. It's the architects/designers who contribute to the "dream home" plan sources. They're conditioning people to "want" all those things that look charming in an illustration, but don't necessarily make sense architecturally or economically.


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RE: Architects? Really?

AllieBr8
The box below your message makes a URL into a link so no one needs to cut and paste to see your house.

I think your house is great and one of the best I've seen at the Garden Web in 8 years.

I haven't commented on it because you are being advised by someone who knows the project and your needs better than I do and has created a great solution.

Here is a link that might be useful: AllieBr8's house


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RE: Architects? Really?

It depends on finding the right match, design-wise--experience, skill, and proclivities vary greatly. The path to licensure and maintaining licensure is primarily about protecting the public health, safety, and welfare. Not good aesthetics--for this, the burden is on you to investigate and interview. But there is a minimum competence and professional commitment that you're more certain to find in a licensed individual. I'm sure there are effective unlicensed healers out there but I would usually seek the services of a board-certified physician.

Great buildings almost always have great clients, great architects, and great builders who worked well together. All too often, one or more of these parties do not know better or will not deviate from what they've done or seen before--and you get a mess, or schlock, or a stellar design poorly executed.


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RE: Architects? Really?

jsfox wrote, "...Has the McMansion craze drizzled down and so permeated things that even architects are ignoring design and aesthetics? At one time there was a vast difference in an architect designed house (regardless of style, size, or budget) and builder plop. Is that no longer the case?..."

No that isn't the case at all, in my experience.

What is true is that every house is designed for someone, for some purpose, with some taste and personal preferences and for some budget. In other words, architects don't design real house for themselves and an imaginary world.

There are some design competitions and architectural publications that feature these sorts of designs, where architects can simply create imaginary designs based on their own aesthetic preferences. This is not the real world, however!

It has often been said that behind every successful building design is a strong partnership between owner, architect and builder. Conversely, behind every less than successful design is likely to be tenuous relationship between owner, architect and builder.

McMansions, builder's plop and the like are designed because someone wanted them and/or didn't know or care enough to do otherwise.

For example, the vast majority of the questions and responses here are about the various independent features of a house--the need for more cubbies in the laundry room; the importance of having a walk-in pantry over there somewhere--but should it be close to the refrigerator or to the laundry, or...; whether or not there should be two islands in the kitchen; the essential 3-4 car garage that dwarfs the rest of the house, the preferences for one or two walk-in closets, etc.

There are virtually no discussions in this forum about what makes for good design; what are the essential principles for the design of a house and its site; what makes a house authentic--what are key elements of modern or historical character.

Seldom are site plans posted; only floor plans for critique--so we never have any sense of the house and the land, which are intertwined. The relationship of floor plans to exterior massing, interior spaces and the use of natural lighting is simply ignored here--few have enough knowledge or interest to raise these fundamental elements of sound design when looking and commenting on floor plans here.

Exteriors and interior spaces are often considered as an afterthought after the "plan for a lifetime" has been developed, thus there should be little wonder that most designs here are bulky, ill-proportioned and roof heavy! Dare I say ploppy?

The most talented, experienced and award-winning architect cannot provide an exceptional design for someone who doesn't recognize or understand good design or simply has other ideas for their house that are unshakable.

And no exceptional design, fully supported by an owner, can be successfully built unless the builder is equally convinced and capable of executing the work as designed, adding her/his own important creativity and experience in the process.

Plop exists because someone wanted Plop, got supportive comments for it, paid for it and built it.

Just my opinion and experience. Not trying to start a Plop War!


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RE: Architects? Really?

All I have to say is I wish we saw smaller homes on the forum. Just for my own enjoyment :)

We could not afford an architect but DH and I are SUPER visual. That has helped us. We had two rules while building and desiging:

1. Steer away from trends (we do have a white kitchen but I do not see that as a trend since my grandmother had a white kitchen growing up).

2. Keep it SIMPLE.

I happen to think our house will be quite handsome. I am beyond sick of all these mother loving gables on all these plans.

This post was edited by sweet.reverie on Tue, May 7, 13 at 23:29


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RE: Architects? Really?

sweet.reverie, I have a sneaky feeling you'll come up with a great house in the end. Some of the most appealing houses we've seen have been designed by owners without architects or designers who cared enough to put the thought in to it and these often turn out more appealing than 99% of the houses being built.

Have you googled 'tiny houses' and looked at the images? Likely much smaller than what you're doing, but some exhibit really exceptional creativity and design.


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RE: Architects? Really?

virgilcarter, I don't think this has anything to do with dream designs. Actually, I think in many cases better design leads to less expense. As someone above mentioned, leaving off the ticky tacky. Yes, some people will insist on plastic shutters that are way out of proportion and look ridiculous or a two story portico with skinny columns and every other element out of proportion that looks even more ridiculous, but it seems that most of what I've seen on here isn't so much client insisted as architect offered.

The traditional designs that so many people love, that attract people to want to stroll through Williamsburg, Charlotte, Brooklyn, Carmel, Cotswolds, Boston, London, Tuscany, Stockholm, and so many other places were designed that way out of economy, to be economical to build for what they needed to function as in the climate they were in. The same goes for a lot of original contemporary architecture.

Otherwise, I completely agree with the rest of your post - many people simply don't care.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Thank you jsfox! I hope so too. My husband agonizes over the tiny details and while it annoys me now, I will thank him 10 years down the line. An example of this, which I will have to take picture of, on our cantilever on the back of the house, there was a seam where the cantilever and roof overhang met and it was SLIGHTLY imperfect. Meaning a somewhat large gap, not too large though. So he drove to home depot and bought this teeny tiny trim piece and put it there. At first I thought how he was wasting his time but man, to see the difference between the trimmed and the untrimmed is amazing. It looks so clean. He then went on to put the trim piece along the seam on the covered porch as well. And caulking, don't even get me started on the caulking. I am pretty sure we have the most caulked up house on planet earth :) I am very excited to see the finished product.

This post was edited by sweet.reverie on Wed, May 8, 13 at 0:30


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RE: Architects? Really?

I think many people end up building custom homes because they don't want to live in a development of tract homes, not because they want to design an architectural triumph.

Also, I think it's very human to overcompensate for the flaws you saw in your old home when you're building a new one. So, if your old house was small and plain, your new one needs to be big and fancy, with all of the rooms and ornaments you've been longing for.

Also, I think people want to justify the expense of building custom by saying "we'll live here forever" and then add on more and more in anticipation of needs they may have decades from now.

We're saved from this because we don't have the budget to add a room for everything, and I've never liked going along with the crowd, so rejecting the major current trends appeals to me. ;^)

We've done a lot of research about how to think about design, and done our best within our budget, but I'm sure there are things about our house that won't appeal to everyone. I think it will still be a good home for us, and will let us live where we want to live (which is NOT in a development!)


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RE: Architects? Really?

jsfox wrote, "...Actually, I think in many cases better design leads to less expense..."

Yes, I certainly agree. The "functional examples" that you list in your statement below are good examples. Other good examples include orienting and building into the design strategies for passive energy conservation, making the home more enjoyable for living during the entire year, while saving operational expenses in the process. There are many other good examples of how good design is good sense.

Stressing out over the number of cubbies in the utility room, however, isn't one of the historical foundations of good design.

jsfox continued, "...As someone above mentioned, leaving off the ticky tacky. Yes, some people will insist on plastic shutters that are way out of proportion and look ridiculous or a two story portico with skinny columns and every other element out of proportion that looks even more ridiculous, but it seems that most of what I've seen on here isn't so much client insisted as architect offered..."

I completely agree about the lack of authenticity and reverse-value for ticky-tacky and misguided proportions, etc. One of the most consistent and worse offenders is the preoccupation with huge, bulky floor plans that inevitably result in huge, top-heavy hip roofs that are completely out of proportion.

How you can tell that this and similar misguided decision-making is "architect offered" is beyond me unless you have been directly involved with the owners in each of the individual projects to which you make reference.

I know a few architects, here and there, and none of them would "offer" such frivolous, out-of-scale, inappropriate cake decorations as you properly describe.

That said, as another poster above points out, "...there are things about our house that won't appeal to everyone.."

I believe that says it all, including the source and decision-maker for how a house design ultimately turns out. And why not--it's still America (I think) and everyone should be able to share in their individual approach to the American Dream, especially for a home that they are going to pay for and live in for some extended period.

You simply cannot hold the architect responsible for designs resulting in "... there are things about our house that won't appeal to everyone..." It should be quite clear where the responsibility for this lies.

Good luck on your project.


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RE: Architects? Really?

As a KD, I regulary commit all kinds of atrocities against functionality and aesthetics. All at the customer's request. Often, if I suggest anything different that would help with the functionality or improve the looks, the suggestion is met with downright hostility. I am viewed as someone who "transcribes" the customer's vision than as a professional who brings added value to the job. I was told just recently that they only reason that someone came to me was because they lacked the professional software to view what they wanted in 3D, and they couldn't order directly from the cabinet company.

And, it was an atrocious design that I really really hated "putting my name" on it. But, it was a sale. And the customer was happy.

That's the mentality of a lot of people. They don't understand their limitations. And they don't understand what good design actualy IS. So, it's not important to them.


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RE: Architects? Really?

"I happen to think our house will be quite handsome. I am beyond sick of all these mother loving gables on all these plans."

Bwahahaha! I am completely hearing Samuel L. Jackson say that in my head now.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Like this?


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RE: Architects? Really?

One of the most consistent and worse offenders is the preoccupation with huge, bulky floor plans that inevitably result in huge, top-heavy hip roofs that are completely out of proportion.

Height limitations on infill housing--so as not to "be out of character" with pre-existing 1940s bungalows--have the opposite result: truncated out of proportion roofs on large homes.

But, oh forfend, that anyone should live in a home larger than 1,500 sf. I remember the collective intake of breath from objectors at a city council meeting when they heard the proposed new homes had 4,400-5,000 sf plus with six and even seven w.cs.

Much of what masquerades as architectural good taste and proper proportionality is matter of unadulterated jealousy.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Worthy wrote, "...Much of what masquerades as architectural good taste and proper proportionality is matter of unadulterated jealousy..."

And perhaps a matter of misplaced consumption (bigger is better; much bigger is much better), or, dare I say, greed?

It's amazing to me to think about the size and layout of the houses that our grandparents (with multiple children) lived in, and to compare what's normally expected today by a young couple under 30 or so. The comparison between just three generations and their life style expectations is nothing short of staggering.

Can you imagine your grandmother stressing out over whether or not a 3-car garage will be big enough? And whether or not every bedroom should have its own en suite bathroom?

Only a thought.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I agree, virgil.

When I hear or read things like "Oh, they each need their own bathroom" I practically choke. Do most folks realize that just one generation ago we didn't think kids even "needed" their own bedrooms? :)

So many things are simple "desires" and not "needs."

And what bothers me about the bigger and bigger house trend - copying the lifestyles of the truly wealthy - is that many folks who live in these homes will not have the level of domestic help that is needed for these homes, and are making themselves slaves to a large house. "Quality of life," imo, is about a lot more than material goods.

This post was edited by bird_lover6 on Wed, May 8, 13 at 11:38


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RE: Architects? Really?

Ah, so much better in the olden days when the labouring classes and the grubby merchants knew their places and architects worked only for the royalty and landed gentry.

There is no greater affront to proportionality, good taste, breeding and culture than middle-class bumpkins with money. It's an insult to the natural order.

This post was edited by worthy on Wed, May 8, 13 at 13:10


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RE: Architects? Really?

Back then a garage barely had enough room to open the car door let alone open all the way!!!!


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RE: Architects? Really?

The message is given in the kitchen forum and the home decorating design forum pretty explicitly that the homeowner is much more capable of designing a good kitchen or room than the typical kitchen designer or interior designer--and that the designer is someone who is there to try to take your money to do something you could do yourself. Or at best a resource to order the things you want through because you can't do it yourself.

So to some extent, the message is extended to the building a House forum (I don't like Home used in context with building--home is a psychological and sociological construct, not a building).

How often have we seen plans in here done on software by a someone planning to build and they think it's ready to go? The reason for overwrought designs with multiple roofs and gables and floorplans with twenty corners instead of four is because it is easier to decide how big a room you want, make a rectangle that size and then start hooking all the random rectangles together than it is to start with a basic rectangle and a set square footage and put together the puzzle. Then you have to roof it accordingly.

From the architect's standpoint re: making a living, I read something somewhere to the effect that If your clients come to you in a Rolls Royce, you may end up taking the subway, but if your clients come to you on the subway, you may go home in a Rolls Royce. If you can do high volume, middle market stuff and sell a lot of copies, you've got it made. In the interior design context, look at Mark Hampton, a very well-known interior designer who has influenced many of this generation, has books and monographs about his work, etc. He died before the marketing machine was so strong, and he was Never wealthy like his clients. Then take someone like Nate Berkus who is a moderate talent, but got the approval of Oprah, and designs a bunch of low cost stuff to be sold at Linens N Things or wherever. He is Much wealthier than his target client.


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A good book, or two

"Ah, so much better in the olden days when the labouring classes and the grubby merchants knew their places and architects worked only for the royalty and landed gentry.
There is no greater affront to proportionality, good taste, breeding and culture than middle-class bumpkins with money. It's an affront to the natural order."

There is a book, called The Old Way of Seeing, that discusses how architects--or vernacular builders , without an architect or designer--USED TO have a better sense of what created a pleasant proportion and design, and could build it. This innate ability, according to the author diminished throughout the 19th c and was lost in the 20th c.

I don't agree with everything the author says, but I think it is a very good book.

Another one is "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" which discusses how left brained people (right dominant hand) tend to create Symbols for things rather than seeing them how they are, so a drawing of a person might look like a glorified smiley face, and a three dimensional table drawing will still have legs drawn exactly the same length because everyone knows a table's legs must be equal.
These symbols are recognizable enough to communicate but they are not Actually how things Look.

I think house design has become much more about Criteria and Symbols rather than How they Actually Look.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Thanks for the Hale suggestion.

Unless you're lucky enough to live in Lake Wobegon "where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average," the vast number of homes will not rise beyond the mediocre. Whatever the style, whatever the size, whether architect designed or not. Yours and mine are the exceptions.


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RE: Architects? Really?

It used to be though, that the average or mediocre house was often fairly pleasant to look at. Some version of a center hall colonial revival, a cape cod, or a ranch, or some kind of split.

There are entire developments where I grew up of plain basic houses that are smallish, ordinary and completely pleasing to look at.

Now the basic house is puffed up to look Much larger than it actually is and compounds the vulgarity of the mismatched, tacked on ornamental elements by executing them cheaply and poorly.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Very interesting discussion. I am a novice when it comes to architecture and do not claim to have much knowledge in terms of various architecture styles and their history.

I am now worried about posting elevations that we just got from the designer.
For me a Floor plan is more easier to decide and comment on because that is dependent on how we live every day. But in terms of how it looks from outside well I feel this is where I need the most help from a designer/Architect. I think a lot of people are like me and may not know what we are doing is not the right thing :)


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RE: Architects? Really?

Worthy (tongue firmly in cheek) wrote, "...There is no greater affront to proportionality, good taste, breeding and culture than middle-class bumpkins with money. It's an insult to the natural order..."

Now you're talking! Money vs. taste...I'll take the raspberry, please!


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RE: Architects? Really?

There was an interesting thread some time ago in the Kitchens Forum. It was a tongue-in-cheek demonstration of how someone could start with a beautiful inspiration picture and through a series of seemingly minor alterations end up with something not terrible, but not terribly appealing either. I think that's a real danger whether one is going to an architect to modify a stock plan or making later alterations to an architect's original design.

palimpsest -- thanks for providing the reading references.


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RE: Architects? Really?

This is an interesting discussion.

For those of us who are visually challenged, maybe some folks could post images of homes that would be considered good design. Thanks.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I don't think there is any connection between wealth, good architecture, and a resulting great house. Sure, wealthier people (or fools who borrow too much) can build bigger houses with exotic hardwoods (oh, and lots more ticky tacky), but these aren't at all necessary for a great house.

I love the comments about generations past. Our first house was an 80-year-old 900sf cape cod. Not a lot of space, but very appealing and solid as a rock. Our first child was 2 before we left for a massive 2100sf colonial that we're still in and where we raised our family and routinely had 20+ for dinners (my wife is from a good Norwegian family) and occasionally had over 30 for parties.

Palimpsest, ordered "The Old Way of Seeing", thanks for the ref. Another great book along this line is "The eighteenth-century houses of Williamsburg" by Marcus Whiffen. It has a lot of stuff on construction techniques, but also a lot on proportion and why things were designed the way they were.


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RE: Architects? Really?

akshars_mom, why are you worried about posting elevations? From what I've seen on here, people get quite a bit of excellent feedback.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I second the request for images of houses that illustrate good design. Ever since reading palimpsest's comments that the pitch of gables should not all be equal I have been looking at houses in my area and they ALL have multiple gables of the same pitch. Are they all breaking a design rule? If I had never ventured on to this forum I might have been one of those clients asking an architect for a bad design because that's all I see and all I know.

Thank you all for your posts. They are so educational and I am looking at my surroundings with new eyes!


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RE: Architects? Really?

Thank you Renovator8 for your feedback!! And as well to anyone else on this thread who chimed in on my post!! You all have a lot of great in put even on this thread and it makes me think differently about this whole process we are in!! Thank you!! I'm SOOO glad I found this site while in the design stage and and not after or I would be sick to think I missed out on all these great eyes...professional or not...it's valuable to me!!


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RE: Architects? Really?

It's hard to get pictures from architects' websites, they may be copyrighted or can't be saved, but here are some

John Milner Architects:

The Hipped Roof and the Pyramidal roof may be the same, but the dormer gables are a different pitch not parallel to the hip:
milner2 photo JohnMilnerArchitect2_zps06abed3c.jpg

Fairfax and Sammons Architects:
Hipped roof and gables at different pitches. I think the smaller gables may be slightly shallower than the larger one:
 photo FairfaxandSammons3_zps8470984c.jpg

Fairfax and Sammons Architects:
Hipped Roof and Pediment at two different pitches:
fairfax2 photo FairfaxandSammons2_zps1afbcdb5.jpg

Fairfax and Sammons
Two front facing gables at slightly different pitches
fairfax1 photo FairfaxandSammons1_zps98657376.jpg

Different pitches on a Georgian Revival
 photo highgeorgian_pak.jpg

John Milner Architects:
Varied pitch
milner1 photo JohnMilnerArchitect1_zps66bfe1ad.jpg

Mount Pleasant, a historic house restored by Milner:
milner mount pleasant photo JohnMilnerMtPleasant_zpsbd62e4d3.jpg


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RE: Architects? Really?

palimpsest, to my eye many of the major pitched roofs in your photos appear to have similar or the same pitch. The visual difference is likely due to photographic perspective--parallax--since the multiple roofs are in different planes.

I agree that some of the minor roof elements used for the dormers differ from those of the major roof forms, but that's really not the same as having major roof forms with different pitches.

As an architect, I never heard of a rule to make roofs at different pitches for improved aesthetics. I've always thought the opposite was true.

Different major roof pitches (and materials) may help create a "folksy" feeling which may replicate varying additions to a house built over extended periods of time.

Buildings and houses which are designed to be consistent within themselves may better appear so with consistent major roof treatment. Just my opinion.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Opinions on this home? It is a design from an Architect we will consider when we start design this fall, assuming we ever find land.


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RE: Architects? Really?

virgilcarter thanks for your opinion too...could you take a look at our current front elevation and lmk what you think of pitches and as well the hipped roof the architect incorporated. All this lingo is new to me and I am amazed at the input/feedback and all that I'm learning on gardenweb!! wow!! thank you

Here is a link that might be useful: AllieBar8's Floor Plans & Elevations


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RE: Architects? Really?

AllieBar8, I'll add my comments on your thread, not on this one. I've commented on your plans earlier in your thread, but I'll gladly add some additional comments. Thanks for asking.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Virgilcarter, I like alliebr8's house very much and this was a suggestion for a subtle change.

If you look at Get Your House Right, by Marianne Cusato, and Traditional Construction Patterns: Design and Detail Rules of Thumb, by Steven Mouzon, and The Old Way of Seeing, by Jonathan Hale,

they all discuss subtleties like this that distinguish the old classical architecture --going back all the way to Greek Architecture and the revival architecture that followed--from more contemporary architecture that is good (but could be even better, perhaps) like this house, or generally pretty bad like a lot of the neo-eclectic stuff that is built out of the pattern books.

The first two books discuss roofs and pitch explicitly in this regard. And they are subtleties. They aren't talking about drastic differences. And since this house is still on paper, I brought it up as a potential improvement.

Look that the rhythm of the roofs above that do have different pitches, (and Mount Pleasant does, I've seen the drawings) and compare this to the repetition of never ending gables on the typical neo-eclectic that is currently in fashion.

Which roof looks better? Then take a look at the work of Hugh Newell Jacobsen who has intentionally stripped his houses down to a cartoonish minimalism of gabled box after gabled box after gabled box. (But in a masterful way, I think) Jacobsen exploits that repetition. The designer of the neo-Eclectic house does it because they don't know any better.

Since Alliebr8s house is supposed to appear incremental (and is, I think incremental--some of it exists) --to me this is a Stronger reason to subtly vary the Major rook pitches from the minor.

And really, just because you've never heard of something doesn't mean it doesn't exist or is not a principle that has not been written about at some length...it just means you've never heard of it. Nothing that matter with that, it's a neutral statement but I'm sure it depends upon what type of program you go to and what their emphasis is. My partner worked with an architect who had a vague notion of who Frank Lloyd Wright was, and that was the extent of it. He wasn't interested in architectural history and it wasn't an emphasis of his degree program. Obviously the architects who are designing all these neo-eclectic messes we see have never heard of a lot of things either.

john-wc, if you can get a house built like this, I think it's great.


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RE: Architects? Really?

P, you raise good points worth consideration. There are, of course, many ways to skin a cat, or design the roof for a house.

As architects, we all have our individual values and preferred approaches.

I completely agree that the current pre-occupation with stacked gable roofs is atrocious, and unthinking--just a way to try to visually break up a roof that is inherently too bulky and large due to an "overinflated" and ill-proportioned floor plan that was never properly developed.

Good comments.


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RE: Architects? Really?

So far all of the homes shown as "good design" are either 100 years old, or are designed to look 100 years old. And none of them are or were inexpensive.

The way people live has changed substantially in the last 100 years. I'd be interested in seeing examples of "good design" that are intended for a modern family (complete with vehicles, and all the stuff people have now). IMO, good design meets the needs and wants of the inhabitants, it does not require that we change our standards to whatever people wanted in the past. Bonus points for plans that could be built relatively inexpensively. It's easy to say "good design doesn't have to be expensive", but if you then turn your nose up at anything but high end materials and methods, it's not terribly sincere.

One more thing:

Virgil, do you believe any house will appeal to everyone? My parents live in a very attractive, well designed home. I love to visit it. But it would not be a good fit for my family. I suspect many well designed homes do not appeal to everyone, because different people want different things. "Not appealing to everyone" /= hideous eyesore.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I think we are in a current design stasis when it comes to "traditional" architecture so it's actually rather difficult to come up with simple traditional designs. I will try to come up with some pictures.


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RE: Architects? Really?

So sorry Virgil...I must have missed your name being one of the comments...thank you kindly for additional feedback...I love reading this conversation among you architects! :) john wc I love that house you posted...the stone is awesome!!


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RE: Architects? Really?

Zone4newby wrote, "...Virgil, do you believe any house will appeal to everyone? My parents live in a very attractive, well designed home. I love to visit it. But it would not be a good fit for my family. I suspect many well designed homes do not appeal to everyone, because different people want different things. "Not appealing to everyone" /= hideous eyesore..."

Good points here by zone4newby.

No, of course not--there's simply no universal design, historical or modern that is likely to appeal to everyone. I, for one, am glad this is true, because we are all unique individuals with unique situations pertaining to our families and living conditions.

The fact that one's home may not be "appealing to everyone" is not a pejorative statement. But it is a clear statement that someone--owner, architect and/or builder, or someone--has made specific decisions about what that house is and isn't. These decisions may or may not be decisions of good design. These decisions (or lack of decisions) may result in an appealing final effort. And they may also result in a visual atrocity. It all depends.

Such highly individual decisions, however, may also have nothing to do with design, such as the decision for the manufacturer and model of a refrigerator. I like Sub-Zero over-under refrigerators and someone else likes Samsung french-door refrigerators. Either decision is fine for one with their individual choice and matching budget.

The goal of good residential design is to find creative, responsive and supportive solutions for the specific needs and conditions of the home owners for whom the design is intended.

When all involved--owner, architect and builder--are on the same wavelength, a very good design should result. When the participants are at odds, or communications are not effective, then good design is impossible.

But good design is not universal. That's why Ferraris differ from BMWs which differ from Mazda 6s. All are good designs, IMO, but they are for very different purposes and tastes. And different budgets. But they will all get one from point A to point B.

Hope this helps with the notion of design.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Johnwc - that is one of my favorite homes from a favorite architect. We used another Atlanta architect for our home, in large part because he priced per square foot which was very appealing. I have heard horror stories about the cost of the architect rising to the level of several hundred thousand dollars because of the hourly rate issues. Perhaps if you are planning on building a house like the one pictured, that is not an issue. For us, that would have been a large enough part of our budget to make us think twice.

You cannot go wrong with Norman Askins for sure.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Athens, we regard that home as a sort of inspiration. If Askins' fee is several hundred thousand, he will be eliminated quicker than a snowball on the Fourth of July. We plan to meet with all the usual suspects: Askins, Baker, Harrison, Fuller and more.

And yes, the price per SF approach holds great appeal to us. First, we have to find suitable land which has not been easy.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I second what Virgil Carter says. There is a difference between a good design not appealing to, or being suitable for everyone vs. good design/bad design.

I think the biggest problem with current residential design is the tendency to try and make the house look like what it is not. Fairly modest houses are puffed up to look larger and more imposing, and details are tacked on for the sole purpose of adding ornamental complexity to the design, often only the façade. The house rarely responds to its lot or environment--rather it imposes its self-importance on the landscape.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I posted a few more front elevations. BTW, I have no idea if these represent good design or not. I see this as a learning process and apparently other members do as well.

Please comment on the following:


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Modest Houses

These houses are not perfect. But they have a clear identity.
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This house has more of an interior focus
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RE: Architects? Really?

In my opinion, the more varied roof forms, the more forward facing gables (especially the dreaded Stacked Gables), combinations of multiple roof shapes--hip, gable and/or shed roof types--the less resolved and less successful the design.

Multiple roof types, shapes and pitches often means that the floor plan was not considered with the exteriors and roofing in mind. The result of this common approach is simply a floor plan with a "hat" on it--frequent a bulky, ill-proportioned and unappealing huge hat.

Look at all the illustrations above. The more complicated the roof the busier and less resolved is the design.

It also seems as if the busier the roof becomes the greater the addition of decoration and really unnecessary materials palettes and detailing. Worse begats worse.

Everyone can make their own visual comparisons and evaluations. Likely some will differ from my evaluation.

Good design isn't always "less is more" (as Mies said), but good architectural design is like a good painting: it contains everything necessary for the artist (or architect) to illustrate the intent for the painting, and not a single thing more!"

Just a thought about good design. It's a complicated and deep subject, so this is just barely scratching the surface.


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RE: Architects? Really?

john_wc

Jonathan Hale would argue that all of the houses you posted have essential problems of proportion.

There is something off about the pediment and windows of the Georgian Revival, (and the shutters are Much too narrow), but it's essentially its a decent form.

The first house, a Beaux Arts style, doesn't need the extra applied gables on the facade and such a complex roof.

The drawn houses are all a bit too upright and have too many materials and ornamental details on the facades, but simplified, they would probably be fine.


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RE: Architects? Really?

virgilcarter, renovator8 and others, what do you think of this elevation? Is this roofline overly complicated?

This post was edited by caymaiden on Wed, Jun 5, 13 at 12:26


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RE: Architects? Really?

To me, Seagrape House has a lot of architectural purity.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I am so enjoying this thread. I appreciate all the time people have put into providing thoughtful responses.

I'm a design idiot - so much so, that this is one area where I don't even know what I don't know (if that makes any sense at all).

I really appreciate those of you who DO know, taking the time to explain things. And I'm really enjoying the back and forth discussions around differences of opinion.

I've learned a lot. Thank you!


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RE: Architects? Really?

I agree. I have never really thought about design very much. Typically my concern with a busy roof would be the cost.

palimpsest, many thanks for your comments. I'm a slow learner when it comes to design but your input and comments have really helped.

Below is a rendering of a home that appeals to me, except for the front garage. I assume that the dormers are ornamental since they open to the attic. Comments?


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RE: Architects? Really?

Hi,

I did build a house and I did use two architects. My first design was designed by my brother. He is in my mind the better architect, having worked for Foster Associates, and designing the shopping areas in Hong Kong Airport. Also as proof, he did put his own money where is mouth is, and built a hotel in Italy (www.moravola.com) which has been featured in 32 publications including Vogue USA.

In the end I had to go with another design and a local architect and a "standard", but still very nice house. The main reason being price.

We had this gorgeous first plan, but when it came to pricing, it was way over budget. The main reason it was over budget because it was "non-standard." Most builders that bid, were scared and hence bid high for the contract. In the world of construction, anything non standard comes in at a cost, and additional execution risk.

Many homes look the same because that is easiest, most cost effective way of building a home, with the lowest risk. Super nice homes, check out SAOTA $US 20 million and up, are sort of what Architects dream of designing, but you need rich clients to pull one of those designs off.

In a nutshell economics plays a huge roll in determining the evolution of home designs. What you see is the result of market forces at work for each location.

Best, Mike.


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RE: Architects? Really?

jsfox,
Sorry I just saw your question to me. The board does offer very helpful insight and suggestions and it has helped me greatly. I only said worried of posting an elevation with out doing some more research after the discussion here, since I am a novice and what I was going to post going to have a lot of issues.

I am going to post the elevations when I get a them (asked to make some changes).

I have really enjoyed the whole conversation and learned from it.


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RE: Architects? Really?

This appears to be a cousin of the most recent home I posted.


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RE: Architects? Really?

The last two houses are Georgians and the second is stronger than the first. I don't think it's likely though that the wings would be clapboard, and a dependency like the cape cod style house (which probably represents a summer kitchen in the fictitious history of how such a house might evolve) might be wood, but it would almost never be attached to the Front of the house, only the back.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I second palimpsest's comments.
Too bad there isn't a second chimney.
Might be better without the soldier course.


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RE: Architects? Really?

You know that someone went overboard with rooflines, if the result is like this:


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RE: Architects? Really?

Is the issue with the soldier course that it is not true to the Georgian design or aesthetics?


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RE: Architects? Really?

I don't have a problem with the soldier course, they often did something to demarcate between different stories of the house.


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RE: Architects? Really?

palimpsest --

Thank you for your comment about Seagrape House. The house was designed by our architect and was our "inspiration" -- though our home will be much smaller with fewer balconies and only two stories as opposed to three. We have asked for as simple a shape as possible and we have that in our preliminary plans, but the architect did note that the only complicated feature was the roof, which, from the look of the sketches he has done, is something similar to this one. I didn't think much of it at the time, but this thread made me look at it again and wonder. I do think it looks very nice, and only hope it's not too expensive to build. We are finalizing our preliminary plans this weekend and moving on to planning documentation and costing next, so I guess we'll find out! Thanks again for taking the time to comment.


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RE: Architects? Really?

caymaiden

Your house shares a lot with some vernacular tropical forms, and vernacular forms generally follow function or are adapted to their environment, so they work:
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Florida Cracker

Your form is very similar to a Florida Cracker house
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RE: Architects? Really?

I've been following this thread with a lot of interest. We are in the beginning stages of building a house that's quite modern, so it doesn't look a lot like many of the houses on this forum. It also doesn't look a lot like many of the houses in the mountain area it will be built in, which is near our current house. The most popular houses there are called "mountain vernacular," which is a bit ridiculous, given that earlier mountain houses (in our area, no older than the mid-1800s) were not huge McMansions with a boatload of "natural" exterior sidings, multiple gables, columns throughout that include stripped logs and rock facing on the bottom of the columns. Our house doesn't have any of those; we were lucky to easily find an architect whose forte and love is modern design (though he's done, and continues to do, those other types too to pay the bills).

Other factors that we had to deal with in our design, which affected the houseplan and elevations, are an upward sloping lot (we didn't think it sloped that much when we purchased it 15 years ago) and a very conservative design review board in our development (they love mountain vernacular). And, of course, real environmental issues such as need for certain pitches to the roof for snow loads and a cool climate that limits the number of large windows facing north.

Well-designed houses that don't have (too many) useless elements always appeal to me, even if they aren't the type of house that I would choose to live in.


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RE: Architects? Really?

john_wc - Bill Baker designed our house. We are very happy with it.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Also if you are talking to folks in that crowd, talk to Spitzmiller and Norris and Stan Dixon also - they design beautiful houses!


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RE: Architects? Really?

Hi Athens, we will definitely talk to Baker. Never heard anything but great things about him. Spitzmiller & Norris, know the name and will add them. Not familiar with Stan Dixon but will look him up.

Know anything about Harrison or Fuller?

Thanks..


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RE: Architects? Really?

BTW, I assume you are in Athens but did you meet with any Atlanta builders?


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RE: Architects? Really?

This is a wonderful thread, thanks to everyone who has contributed and shared their comments and perspectives.

ClioT, good for you for resisting the mtn vernacular, good luck with the project. Have you posted with drawings yet? There aren't many lovers of modern design on GW, but there are a few of us. I'm building a small and modern lakeside home on a fairly steep slope. I've found an architect I'm very comfortable with, thankfully.

I've been told, and I think I agree, that designing good modern buildings can be more difficult than more traditional homes. I love modern design, but hate most examples of so called "modern" design I see in my area. As I learned here, getting an excellent architect AND builder in tune with your desires is critical. So far so good for us I think.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Our builder was recommended by Bill and he has worked with him multiple times. He does build in Atlanta (working on something on Pine Valley now I think) but lives in Madison.

Don't know much about Harrison or Fuller, and I guess I didn't really realize Fuller did much any more other than stock plans. I think of Harrison as building less classical type buildings and more of those turreted castles ;). Tim Adams is good too - he just built a really pretty house down the street from my parents. He is likely more reasonable than any of the "names". Stan Dixon is excellent - used to work with Askins and is now probably the most "famous" of the Atlanta architects in vogue now but quite pricey.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Sochi, one of the problems with modernism, is that it is harder to build a house without extraneous trim and detail, because some of the extraneous trim and detail is used to cover joints in material changes if not actual flaws or less than perfect finish work.

The initial modernists did things like full height doors without even a stop at the ceiling line and no face trim, with the jamb being flush with the finished plaster. The no trim detail requires several extra steps, and when they started having problems with the doors scraping the ceiling if it was unlevel, they lowered the doors.

If you do a small recessed reveal at the floor instead of a baseboard, not only should the floor be straight and level, but the eye can easily discern differences in gap width when the set width is small.

These kinds of things are too expensive to do, or at least too expensive to be of enough interest to most people who are building to Pay for it, so they get left out. So, many of the original hallmarks of modernism are not actually put into modernist houses anymore--the budget goes elsewhere.


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RE: Architects? Really?

That makes sense Pal. My architect is very, very picky about the builder, as he doesn't feel that most builders in the area are able to do modern. He won't work with anyone who hasn't proven experience doing just what you've described. He has worked directly with one builder with modern build experience he trusts, and indirectly with one other. He really wants to go with the builder he knows and trusts first hand, but I'd like to have at least two builders bidding.

It wouldn't be such a challenge in the city where I live, but I'm building in a rural area in another province and the builders must be from that province (Quebec). So it makes it a challenge to find people with the right experience. Good times.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Sochi,

You are from Quebec -- what part? I was born and raised in Quebec.

Carol


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RE: Architects? Really?

I say make a deal with the best high end tract builder in town, and get the architectural plans for cheap. Then work the magic. Hire the best and get it done!
Suzi


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RE: Architects? Really?

Hi Carol,

I live in Ottawa. We are building in Val-des-Monts, just 30 minutes north of here, but very different regulations apply! Just makes things more fun! ;) Are you from Montreal?


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RE: Architects? Really?

Hi Sochi,

Yes I grew up in Mtl. I currently live in Guelph ON. I have a sister in Sutton, QC and relatives in Ottawa with cottages on the Quebec side. Good luck with the Quebec building rules.

Carol


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RE: Architects? Really?

I found your comment interesting, zone4:

"So far all of the homes shown as "good design" are either 100 years old, or are designed to look 100 years old. And none of them are or were inexpensive.
The way people live has changed substantially in the last 100 years. I'd be interested in seeing examples of "good design" that are intended for a modern family (complete with vehicles, and all the stuff people have now)."

A house is essentially a box with a lot of divisions inside it. I'm curious, what are the modern needs that you see as breaking the parameters of a nicer older house?

I can think of:

Larger garages.
More "stuff" = more sq ft per occupant, perhaps.
More bathrooms per bedroom count, and bigger bathrooms with showering space.

Other needs that might be regarded as having changed are really those I'd ascribe more to lifestyle preferences, like the desire for a kitchen opening into a family room or a two-story vaulted living room, or the elimination of a dining room.

[Caveat: I say this as someone who vastly prefers older houses because of the great thought that (often, not always) went into their design. Our current house is a 1910 Craftsman that's a dream layout with a bigger kitchen, bigger garage, and much nicer living room than virtually all of the newer builds I've been in. It's has a completely square footprint (=more economical to build). If I were forced at gunpoint to build a new house, I'd immediately head for archives of old house plans.]


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RE: Architects? Really?

What makes for pleasing, well-proportioned interiors and exteriors changes slowly if it changes. Even 100 years ago there were tiny houses and enormous houses. And good and bad examples of both. Understandably there have been shifts in how we live and the relative importance of domestic activities, but there are ways for architecture to accommodate today's lifestyle besides living under one massive roof shared 50-50 with your boat, RV, and cars. Still, a Cape or a Four Square may not flex enough to meet many families' needs. But there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the rich heritage of domestic architecture. Unfortunately, many design professionals neglect this, and it's usually not worthwhile or even feasible for laypeople with a 9 to 5 and building one single home to acquire the knowledge and apply it successfully. There are some resources like A Pattern Language, and the books showing the DOs and DO NOTs that can to some extent help owners screen and proof designs (and architects). The best examples of groundbreaking, innovative architecture tend to come from people who have shown that they absolutely know the rules (even if they go on to bend or break a few).


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RE: Architects? Really?

Things that have changed in the last 100 years:
Most families have multiple vehicles, none of which are pulled by horses. Few families have live-in help. We have air conditioning and much better heat. Building materials are better in almost every way. We have electricity, television and the internet, which among others things makes our homes bright and loud. We shop less frequently and eat more prepared food. We bathe more often and have more clothes. We have fewer children and invest more in each of them, including often giving each child their own room.

These changes should be reflected in home design, instead of suggesting people simply live like they did 100 years ago. Also, FWIW, I think that sometimes people prefer older houses because they are old-- they like feeling connected to an earlier time and living among mature trees and other landscaping. My grandmother's house was a foursquare, and while it had its charm, there was plenty wrong with it too.

New design ideas like the Great Room are in response to changes in the way families live now. New ideas are a good thing, even if few of the new ideas endure.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Most people do not embrace modernist or international style architecture, though. So most people are content to shoehorn modern room configurations and use modern materials in a psuedo-historical context.

I don't think modern volumes and materials look odd applied to modern architecture, but it can look very odd applied to something that is supposed to look "Victorian" --but that is what most people seem to want.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Going back to one of the front elevations I posted, the brick Georgian with clapboard wings...I understand that the clapboard wings are not true to the Georgian style but I really like the contrast. Georgian has always been my favorite if only due to my pathological need for symmetry.

It seems that classical architecture would be boring if all you are doing is following set rules? Architecture is a blend of art and science. Don't many architects aspire to design a museum or symphony center so they can flex their creative design muscles?


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RE: Architects? Really?

"So far all of the homes shown as "good design" are either 100 years old, or are designed to look 100 years old. And none of them are or were inexpensive."

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These represent modernist design that actually reflects current lifestyle and the types of volumes people want INSIDE their houses. Some are decent, some are masterpieces.

But most people would reject most of these houses as "bad design" because they reject modernism as a form of expression in its entirety.


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RE: Architects? Really?

I think each of those modernist designs are gorgeous in their own right - but I love simplicity. We have a very classical house - sort of a new old house that was designed as if it was built 100 years ago and fluffed along the way. A modern house would be my second choice - love the aesthetic and the simplicity and the sleekness . . The hitch for me is the interior design - those modernist chairs and sofas look so uncomfortable ;)


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RE: Architects? Really?

I think the point is that good design for a house in this day and age can be achieved whether the aesthetic is Modern--International School; a new "old house", or whatever. The purpose of design is to fit the function, aesthetic, technology and budget together in a holistic, responsive and creative way. Good design has plenty of room for tastes and budgets of all kinds.

There's a line of thinking that the aesthetics evolve from the needs and lifestyle of the owner, not the other way 'round. Some folks love modern; some folks love Revolutionary War.

The problem with stock plans and builder's tracts is that they are selling a pre-built product, not a creative service. Purchasers are left to adjust to the product, whatever it may be.

There's a world of difference between a pre-built product and a professional design service. With a pre-built product you accept and live with the existing product. Perhaps you can tweek it here or there, or perhaps not.

With a professional service you shape something uniquely responsive to the needs of the owner, from beginning to end. It's personal and individual!

Some folks care about these things; other folks don't. That's why we have the housing stock we have.


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RE: Architects? Really?

"Going back to one of the front elevations I posted, the brick Georgian with clapboard wings...I understand that the clapboard wings are not true to the Georgian style but I really like the contrast."

The combination of materials done carefully is not a bad thing.

"It seems that classical architecture would be boring if all you are doing is following set rules?"

One would think. But I find that the purely classical houses I posted are neither as boring nor as similar as the neo-eclectic houses that follow no rules. Classical architecture is full of rules and guidelines but they are most specifically about proportion. You can create a lot within the context of the guidelines. I think neo-eclectic bungalows, farmhouses, French whatever, and Georgian/colonials, look Much more similar to each other than the various expressions of classicism. (And more blandly boring despite all their excesses, as well).


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RE: Architects? Really?

palimpsest -- thanks for posting the photos for me. That particular roof style (Dutch hip??) was once very common here and is becoming more popular once again. Since the early 80's, the trend here has been for the kind of single story ranch style homes you might see anywhere, and regional architectural styles were considered a bit behind the times. I suppose this had to do with the economic boom that occurred at the same time, and people wanting what was modern and customary in other parts of the world. We were hard hit by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and most homes on the island sustained major flooding -- single story ranch style homes in particular. I know, because I own one of those, and we had four and a half feet of water inside! Now people are looking to more traditional methods of building much like the images you posted above, with hip roofs and crawl spaces or wash out floors. There is much more focus on using traditional building practices to mitigate against energy costs as well. It's really nice to see more people building "island" style homes -- aesthetically and also for practical reasons. Thanks for the images -- makes me feel we are on the right track.

This has been a very interesting thread, everyone. Lots to think about!


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RE: Architects? Really?

Sochi - It's been a busy week, I'm just now checking back in. I enjoyed, in particular, seeing the modernist styles that palimpsest posted; thanks. I haven't posted anything from our house yet; I guess I'm a bit shy about sharing, have no intention of changing anything and am a bit wary of subjecting our plans (and we love) to critique. But I am enthusiastic about modern design (if not terribly knowledgeable), so perhaps your interest has persuaded me.

Yes, it does take a builder who's knowledgeable about modern design, and that's why we relied so much on our architect's suggestions in choosing our builder. Concepts such as lack of baseboards and why builders use baseboards, I knew before we started the process, but I've also since learned about things like drywall return - I knew I liked the look, but never thought about the name of how to achieve that.


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RE: Architects? Really?

Clio, I for one, would love to see your house. There is a shortage of modern designs on this forum. I understand your trepidation, though-- I've had the same thoughts myself about what to show. I know our house will not be everyone's cup of tea, but we are getting what we want. And yes, some here will say "drywall return, that looks cheap" which it can, when done sloppily. But yeah, simple isn't cheap, because it can take longer when you don't have trim to hide the multitude of sins.

But I really would like to see your house!


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RE: Architects? Really?

I love my drywall returns! I never knew some think it looks cheap, huh. Not only will my build be modern, it will be small, a double negative here!

I expect I will be trusting my architects advice on the design and layout, but I'm sure there will be aspects of the process I won't understand, so I hope to come here for information, explanations, etc. I have a lot to learn, and this forum can be quite helpful, as evidenced with this thread.

I'd love to see your modern home too lori..


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RE: Architects? Really?

I just had to google "drywall returns" and found some pics on houzz. I wouldn't have said they look cheap; quite the opposite. I would imagine you'd have to find an extremely careful builder to get that look right...and careful usually means expensive where I come from.


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RE: Architects? Really?

caymaiden, I don't think drywall returns look cheap, either-- I only know that some people here do, because of a previous thread where that was mentioned. I think a lot of people just like their trim, and the more the better! So true that to get the streamlined look, everything has to be done carefully as there is no place to hide. And careful means expensive no matter where you come from! (Unless you are DIY, I guess.)

Sochi, we are also building small-- around 1600 sf for the house, plus an almost 400 sf studio, however. It is only a foundation now, but I'll see if I can get up the nerve to post photos this summer. Would love to see yours as well. Maybe we need an ongoing 'modern" thread here for progress pix, as it seems to be the minority taste here. Not knocking traditional, I'm living in an almost 100 year old house now, I'm just not planning to reproduce it!


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RE: Architects? Really?

Good idea about a modern thread Lori. Once I get some real drawings I will start a thread, hopefully over the next month or so.


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