Money Becomes King

Posted: February 19, 2019 in Fridge Note, it's the humanity, Shovels

A friend on facehell linked this article and I was inspired to expand it tinto a discussion.  Often, when new projects are publicized, people respond with hatred and little realization of the actual aesthetic composition of the project, but just like to complain that it doesn’t look like the idealized small community that they grew up in , the Twilight Zone/ Star Trek Next Generation hologram deck fantasy.

This is a very informative article on how changing construction standards, changing building materials, and changing building codes are having an effect on building form. What it does not say, is that this is something that has happened often in the past, and resulted in similar rapid expansion of certain building types or construction types. It is mentioned in passing, but the popularity of Balloon framing was massively expedited by the Sears company selling home kits, using that method; but balloon framing was found to be inherently dangerous from fire in that the walls provided internal chimneys that allowed fires to rapidly (meaning in bare minutes) expand to engulf the structure (noted that our house is ballon framed, but it does have rudimentary fire stops at the floor levels).

As a designer, I find the similarity in design to have a couple of sources. First, that this is what is acceptable to the market (whether secondary buyers or renters or condo buyers). And frankly, like much infill and mid-rise construction of the last hundred years, can be handsome and fits in well with most neighborhood design. There is nothing wrong with background buildings. Second, many designers of this scale of building are familiar with what they have seen, and find it expedient and successful to go with what has been built before. And I do not think any of those people are to blame for any of that; as a designer, I try to encourage my clients to stretch their images and think about new forms, new approaches, but it sometimes is OK to be straightforward.

Where I disagree with the article is about the way the model code arrangement is oriented. My experiences with the code officials, both at our state level and at the ICC level do, indeed, take their public responsibility very seriously, and they work very hard to respond to changes in the construction environment to protect the public. The expansion of sprinkler requirements over the past several years is one example; the recognition of nw materials is also a constant work in progress.

At the end of the day, where I disagree with the article is the idea that the basic building configuration (1+4 or 1+5) is the problem he dislikes. Designers respond to challenges in different ways. Most of them will respond in ways,(and in consultation with their clients, to be sure) that are conservative and similar to other successful projects.

It takes a rare combination of a designer who is able to see the opportunity, is willing to push the envelope, and a client that is willing to accept it.

 

I have been fortunate to find that combination more than once.

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I did not say in my professional forward-facing discussion, but as a fucking designer, just stop being so fucking unwilling to push the envelope.  And there is nothing wrong with discarding a crappy client that is tacky and insists on shit.

OK, I can say, there are times to play the standard card.  But a good designer can still make shit aesthetic look ….well, acceptable, if not good.  Pay the bills,, it’s OK.

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