The Design Side



Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit a group of homes that were featured in Chicago’s first GreenBuilt Home Tour. Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council-Illinois Chapter, the tour included 16 sites that are third-party certified, including the area’s first Passive House, DOE Challenge Homes, LEED-certified homes, and National Green Building Standard-certified homes.

On August 8-11, the Timber Framers Guild (TFG) will hold its 2013 National Conference at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt. The event has been going on since1985 and promises something for everyone — even the kids.

 

Dwell magazine recently featured a Pittsburgh home made of recycled glass and steel that stands apart in a neighborhood filled with opulent mansions and brick cottages. The owner purchased (sight unseen) a 140-year-old farmhouse on the site, but decided to tear it down after discovering it was riddled with dry rot and mold.

In the June issue of Professional Builder, I discussed the American Classic Series by Dallas-based Darling Homes. Unfortunately there was no room for photos of the homes, so I’ve included a shot of the Lantana model here.

There’s a 1920 California bungalow for sale in Los Angeles that is tiny (480 square feet) and expensive ($449,000) … and yet, very appealing. The reason for the high price tag is the home’s location in Los Feliz, a hot spot for younger celebrities and regular schmoes who want to rub shoulders with said celebrities. Los Feliz is also close to downtown L.A. and features a bustling district of restaurants, bars and boutiques.

An article that was published in The Atlantic a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about McMansions, which were ubiquitous during the housing bubble. Big and bland, the McMansion became synonymous with middle-class excess, argues author Jordan Weissmann. After the housing-market crash, people came to their senses and home sizes shrank somewhat.

I recently read an article written by Bill Lurz, a former colleague at Professional Builder. Bill is now editor-in-chief of AvidBuilder.com. If you’re acquainted with Bill or have read his articles, you know how deep his knowledge of this industry runs.

Whenever I come across an article in the Wall Street Journal touting some new-home trend, I see it as a sign of mass appeal. Take the story in the May 2 issue about the growing numbers of home buyers who are jumping on the net-zero bandwagon.

The late Roger Caras, president emeritus of the ASPCA, once said, “Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.” No dog lover would disagree, and now architects are chiming in with a new art exhibit called Architecture for Dogs.

It’s well known that Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes, while they’re architectural masterpieces, often have structural issues such as leaky roofs. Wright also disdained such modern must-haves as large kitchens and abundant storage.

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