Everything to Everyone

Well, this is my first plan review post. Let me just say that I think this is going to be fun.

While it would be easy to just say, “Everything is crap unless it looks like it belongs on the cover of Architectural Record,” and gain the appreciation of the stereotypical AIA architect who is the product of this countries architecture schools, that would not be my honest opinion. Most of what ends up on the cover of AR is equally crapola, just of a different consistency. This, I think, makes me less than the ideal AIA member, but AIA member I am, nonetheless. Seems they will take money from just about anyone nowadays.

So, I have googled floor plans and this was the first house on the first site that came up. All in all, this is a relatively attractive home for what it is. If you step away from style for a minute, the elevation has a nice variety of single and 2-story facades, window sizes and materials. The garage doors are nicely tucked away to the side, and the patios add some interesting relief. Online Plan - Design Rendering

Unfortunately, this house won’t let you escape its attempt at style. Rule of thumb: either do it or don’t. You’re either sky diving or your not. If you just go half way, they call it falling. Middle of the road is just that and things that play in the middle of the road usually get run over. You have to either adopt a style and go with it, or don’t try at all. This house would fit very nicely in my parent’s suburban neighborhood. Now, before you get the wrong idea, I’m not an urban core at all costs, high density, minimal footprint and resource guy. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I grew up in the suburbs, and get this, I LIKED IT! But that’s not my point. Society has somehow decided that attainable residential architecture is a mish mash of historical styles and details that are so disjointed as to make classification near impossible leaving only the appropriately descriptive neo-eclectic. The end result is a suburban fabric that is neither homogenous or eclectic and definitely NOT interesting. This is the reason for the term McMansion (a term that I did not create, but that I think is appropriate).

So what’s wrong with a large house on a green grass carpet that is close to its neighbor with clean sidewalks? Well, in my opinion, nothing. It’s the execution of the design that I don’t like. I want to see something that is a reflection of the owner who lives inside and the designer they (hopefully) hired. Something that is actually interesting, not only in it’s massing, but in it’s details. Something that doesn’t feel like it has to look like its neighbors. I have an architect friend who took his suburban house and remodeled it to look like something you would expect from an architect, and while it’s not my cup of tea, it is his and it makes his entire neighborhood more interesting by saying something about everyone ELSE who lives there. I love that neighborhood.

All of this has lead me to have a scary thought. That perhaps this kind of house actually does reflect the owner and the designer and that people aren’t really as interesting as I always thought they were. That perhaps those aren’t people living in there, they are actually McPeople! (disclaimer: I like McDonald’s (not a google ad but if it were, I’d bet it get clicked the most)