Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: NY Times article: Shifting the Suburban Paradigm

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    17,496

    NY Times article: Shifting the Suburban Paradigm

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com...rban-paradigm/

    As architectural designer Aron Chang discusses in one of the more intellectually rigorous and thoughtful pieces on suburbia that I’ve read of late, which appeared in Places journal last month, it’s time we focus on “suburbia’s essential component” — the freestanding single-family house.

    we can’t make any progress in housing until we stop thinking about the home as decorative object and begin considering it as part of a larger whole.
    Article link:
    http://places.designobserver.com/fea...housing/29438/
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    9,610
    This is my favorite part:

    But the lack of innovation extends beyond the high-tech. Not so long ago homes were designed to make the most of their surrounding climate and terrain. Vernacular forms like the shotgun, in places like New Orleans, served a purpose that went far beyond aesthetics — they encouraged natural cooling by improving cross-ventilation. In Texas and New Mexico, thick adobe walls similarly kept heat in during the winter, and out during the summer. Houses were sited and windows placed to maximize or minimize sun exposure as needed.
    I have nothing against single family homes, but I do believe that the cookie cutter developments that have been created in the suburbs are failing in one HUGE aspect and that is a sense of place. We like to think of the solution as New Urbanism, but the real solution is more reasonable development that's unique aesthetic value is that it serves a purpose.

    I support custom home building, not track home building. Interesting read though.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Posts
    392
    *Snorts*

    Reminds me of the early Bauhaus architects who were dismayed to discover that the workers were customizing their "neat, clean, efficient, rational, modern" worker houses by putting lace curtains on the windows, tacky wall papers on the walls, fake fireplaces in the sitting room.

    The one thing I've learned over the years is not to mess with human nature.

    I love this quote from the NYTimes link:

    "Today, it’s essentially the same floor plan, sheetrock and construction that’s used coast to coast. Glossy brochures with stock images of smiling families advertise “Spanish Gothic” or “Tuscan Villa,” but what’s really on offer is the same dumb box with a stage set of a façade tacked onto the front."

    I take it the writer's never looked all the home building journals, magazines, sales catalogues and books from the past three hundred years?

    It's just another thinly veiled criticism of suburban tastes. Oh, if only everyone could live in sleek, minimalist structures in eco villages or in smart urban lofts!

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,108
    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    I love this quote from the NYTimes link:

    "Today, it’s essentially the same floor plan, sheetrock and construction that’s used coast to coast. Glossy brochures with stock images of smiling families advertise “Spanish Gothic” or “Tuscan Villa,” but what’s really on offer is the same dumb box with a stage set of a façade tacked onto the front." Perhaps there is some difference between builders, but they really don't diverge much.

    I take it the writer's never looked all the home building journals, magazines, sales catalogues and books from the past three hundred years?
    C'mon...do you actually believe what you're saying? Look at the "products" being built by the production builders (which I'm confident is easily 90% of the single family housing in the US) and they really only have one basic box for each price strata and simply slap on a different facade and dodads on the street front(s) for "diversity of design" A decroated box for sure!

    And Hink, I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with tract building. The diversity will come with time as owners customize the houses and the landscaping matures and diversifies.
    Last edited by mendelman; 11 Oct 2011 at 8:31 AM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
    Registered
    May 2004
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Michigan (Detroit ex-pat since 2004)
    Posts
    4,739

    How do ya get into this garage??

    This one pictured in the NYT piece.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Posts
    392
    The basic essence of a dwelling is four walls, a floor and a roof. In other words, a box, no? Everything else is simply appendage.

    All these lovely pre-revolutionary colonial homes have a certain sameness to them - central hall with one or two rooms on each side. Urban houses had a hall to one side with two or three rooms to its left or right. Pretty much everything was based on this simple box model. Richer houses had larger rooms and fancier decoration - panelling, fireplaces, carved staircases, larger windows, but these were merely appendages to a basic box model.

    Flash forward a century. Greek Revival? Same principle. Central hall with 1-2 rooms to each side. The changes were merely decorative - cornices, moldings, staircase, doorframes. In the south they often slapped on a large porch a la the plantation house style. But once again it's still the basic box form with "architecture slapped onto it."

    Our beloved Victorians loved the huge variety of architectural styles made available with the introduction of mass production and the balloon frame model of constructions. What's a house with a Moorish turrent, a georgia revival pediment and a couple gothic pointed windows? Why, it's a Queen Anne house. Most of its interior and exterior woodwork and stained glass would have been mass produced in a factory somewhere. Once again, "architecture slapped onto a box" and today's suburban McMansions are hardly different in its approach.

    Architectural design books, magazines and journals have been around for a very long time. Palladio inspired the great country houses of 18th century Britain and the neoclassical palaces of the European continents - but once again all these are "architecture slapped onto a box."

    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    C'mon...do you actually believe what you're saying? Look at the "products" being built by the production builders (which I'm confident is easily 90% of the single family housing in the US) and they really only have one basic box for each price strata and simply slap on a different facade and dodads on the street front(s) for "diversity fo design" A decroated box for sure!

    And Hink, I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with tract building. The diversity will come with time as owners customize the houses and the landscaping matures and diversifies.

  7. #7
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    9,610
    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    And Hink, I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with tract building. The diversity will come with time as owners customize the houses and the landscaping matures and diversifies.
    I guess it depends on your definition of "diversity". I am not a fan of the stamp with a garage on the left, or a stamp with a garage on the right. But your point is taken.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  8. #8
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,108
    PennPlanner - Yes, from that perspective pretty much all formal and vernacular building styles are effectively decorated boxes

    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I guess it depends on your definition of "diversity".
    Over time that left side or right side garage may be converted to a family room and detached garage added to the rear yard and the neighbor puts a second story on the house and one across the street cuts longer windows into the walls to get more natural light and etc, etc.

    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    This one pictured in the NYT piece.
    Are you serious? That's the model house and, likely, sales office.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,637
    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I guess it depends on your definition of "diversity". I am not a fan of the stamp with a garage on the left, or a stamp with a garage on the right. But your point is taken.
    Tract building took place within urban areas as well.

    What are all the beloved brownstones in Manhattan or Brooklyn or the row houses found in Philly or Baltimore except older tract housing that has been slightly modified over the decades?

    In the growing cities all through the Northeast, the Great Lakes, and into the Midwest, developers in the pre-WW I era built entire neighborhoods of tract housing within city limits. These houses, whether single family, semi-detached, or double flats, had the same footprints with just minor differences. The Buffalo neighborhood called "North Buffalo" is filled with street after street of these kinds of homes, most very well built because they were for middle class families. Large sections of Buffalo's East Side, OTOH, are filled with smaller, more cheaply built tract homes that were suitable (and affordable) for working class people.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    735
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    Tract building took place within urban areas as well..
    yes, and suburban areas as well.

    Townhomes are the new suburban normal in many parts of the country, with financing and land-use economics favoring attached and semi-detached product (more than detached or multi-unit configurations) at around 10+ to 14 units per acre (zero lot detached caps out at 8-10).

    Row houses and garden apartments are the new urban normal in many places. Remember, you can get up to 24-28 units per acre with row-house configurations (and sometimes as high as 33+ with garden apts), at much higher building lot coverages... that's not much less than what you would get with many multi-unit stuff, such as 3-4 story walkup p-blocks), with much less in the way of building and parking infrastructure, higher construction costs associated with multi-unit, and general consumer leariness of shared-hallway and/or landing apartmetns.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 16
    Last post: 17 Sep 2013, 10:38 PM
  2. Replies: 16
    Last post: 26 Feb 2013, 2:20 PM
  3. Replies: 1
    Last post: 26 Nov 2011, 2:34 PM
  4. Replies: 0
    Last post: 04 Sep 2007, 9:28 AM
  5. Replies: 14
    Last post: 30 Dec 2003, 6:41 PM