Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 11:54 am
A neighborhood close by where I used to live in the LA area is changing, as many are throughout the US, and doubtless other places in the world.

The LA Times has an article in it today, with an accompanying photo slide show, about some of the new houses that are dotting the neighborhood of Mar Vista. Questions arise about the ethics of architecture - whether it is ok to be out of scale with the neighborhood, for example, even if city zoning regulations allow much increased volume and height on a lot - and seem to be answered differently depending on whom you talk to.

My old mostly tiny-lot neighborhood in nearby Venice was a little more adventurous than this neighborhood under discussion, but we also had in place more regulation - at least when I was paying attention - for height and building footprint. For example, Frank Gehry has designed a house for himself there.

The dark brown house in this photo, called the Coconut house, has recently won some national award for good design...

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2006-09/25491711.jpg
photo by Karen Tapia-Andersen/LA Times
More photos in slide show..


Article Link --
Marvel or monster - LA Times

I've mixed feelings on all this myself. What do you think?
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Chai
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 12:20 pm
hmmm...the only one of the nine houses they show that I liked was #2, the house with the metal on the front.

the "pepto bismol" house... Shocked actually I thought the lines were alright, I just can't get past that color.

Overall, and in the opinion of someone who knows nothing about it, I don't think any of them are particularly beautiful.

Why do they call that black house a jewel box? because it's plain on the outside and there's a jewel within?

Well, that's all well and good, but I do think one needs to make an effort to be part of the neighborhood atmosphere. Why not use color, vines, murals etc to make it a jewel on the outside too?

I just don't feel a lot of love coming from any of them. Like it's not a place to live, but a possession.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 12:38 pm
I don't think this house is all so tall, probably well within regulation. It sure does shut out the neighborhood though. I think they call it a jewel box because of the all the glass letting light inside via the atrium design...

I like a lot of contemporary architectural home designs.. prefer they "fit", not so much for style, unless one is in a historic design zone, but for.. thinking of right words... oh, mumbles... some kind of articulation so that, say, with a tall building, part of it would be shorter if most of the houses around are one story.

I didn't dislike all those houses. I liked the one with the metal too. And the one with the tan and yellow, my only gripe is its height relative to the neighborhood.

Mar Vista is more diverse in building than the article mentions, though. There is one wide street with some tall old style bungalows on wider lots, and a three block by <guessing> three block array of Gregory Ain houses all landscaped by <trying to remember> Garrett Eckbo, these all built in the 40's, I think. A friend of mine owned one of those, quite wonderful - she had a old metal airplane as a front door handle, did mosaic tile work along the entry path, did a sort of Jackson Pollock take off on the garage door; otherwise the house was simple and sleek.

My ex bro-in-law and niece live in Mar Vista, so when I visit, I see some of the changes.
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Tico
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 01:18 pm
This is a common complaint in any neighbourhood that is undergoing redevelopment, i.e. when the first wave of residents are being replaced by subsequent ones. But if you walk through any urban area that's at least 60 years old, you will find a great variety of styles, scale and proportion. There's simply greater contrast between old & new in this second wave phase. Personally I find the first phase rather boring and the second wave rather jarring in it's simple contrast. Good landscaping would certainly improve the situation. As subsequent waves of urban renewal come in, the stark contrast will soften.

I'm thinking of an architect/urban planner for whom I once worked talking about this. We were driving around an area of old Victorian mansions which were obviously rooming houses now but which, as he pointed out, still had a solidity and character -- and it wasn't difficult to picture the entire street cleaned up, potted flowers on porch steps and green grass on the frontyards. He mused that perhaps this would be a good test of modern residential architecture -- how would it look as a rooming house. Restorable or fit only for levelling and rebuilding?

I liked numbers 2, 6 and 7.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 02:07 pm
Hi, Tico.
I just went back and looked at the slide show again. I quite liked 2 and 7, with a question on the height/mass of 7 depending on context, and don't mind 6, rather like some of the differences in the two sides of the facade.

On the Pepto house, I don't really mind the color, like it a lot better than some of the nearly fluorescent salmon-colored McMansions I've seen... but I don't particularly like the design. Can't say I absolutely hate it either, though.
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plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 03:22 pm
Someone recently remarked about "neighborhoods of pretty Capes and ranches being destroyed by houses that loom over them." Some towns are trying to stop the bigger-is-better mania.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 03:32 pm
In the late 80's, Venice, where I lived, was part of a landuse decision making project that involved LA communities within a certain area close to the water. There were several sections of the area, each holding twelve or so meetings on issues like this. I was the facilitator for our particular area. Just about tore my hair out... getting all the discussion handled and recording all the things people agreed on and stating what they didn't. But, we ended up with a format for people to go by. Who knows if it is still in place.
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Chai
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 03:33 pm
So we all like 2. Surprised

Tico....6 and 7 actually are nice, I just didn't mention them because they both look like they should be in South Florida.

6 in particular looks like it should be on Biscayne Bay, don't you think.

I lived in S. Fla about 10 years, so I'm just art deco'd out.

There's an area in Austin that big old homes with wrap around porches and other elegant touches have been renovated into business. Mostly lawyers and other professionals. There's one street where these houses have also been converted into chic little shoppes.

Those places have retained their character, as if they are being given respect.

In some neighborhoods the houses are very nice, higher end and ususally not more than, oh....2500 or 3000 sq ft. Those places are getting those HUGE McMansions like 8000 sq ft, and they look a little preposterous. Watching them being built, I do like some of them as far as appearance, the size is just such overkill.

In my neighborhood, the newer houses going up on every available space are larger, but not so huge.

Pretty much the new ones are staying with traditional design, or if more modern, there are plenty of established trees around them to soften the harder lines.

I may have mentioned this house down the street from me before, but I shake my head every time I think of it.
My neighborhood mostly has traditional one and two story houses, mostly relying on trim, gardens, window and door shapes, porches etc to show individuality. I really like my neighborhood. It's pretty.

Every time I pass this one house around the corner, I feel like I just climbed out of a jungle and this was the first sign of civilization I've seen in a month. It looks like a Columbian Drug Lords House. Shocked

Ths CDLH is 3 stories tall, with no large trees around it. It's surrounded by a wall, and the gate has some metal thing on it that supposed to be a decoration. Can't think what it is...probably boars tusks or the skulls on enemies or something.

I don't know what the owner was thinking...The third floor is apparantly some kind of lookout for AFT helicopters, and the West side of the 3rd floor is some huge patio thing.... OK, one of the places you DO NOT want to be in Central Texas anytime during outdoor BBQ months is on a 3rd floor concrete slab facing West.

One small thing that really gets me is out front....picture it....CDLH with oversided walls, urns, gates, things like lion head sticking out of the wall....and in front of this.....a little patch of pansies.


PANSIES!!!!! Laughing
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 03:37 pm
You folks might be interested in the photo I've got going right now on the Where am I Travel thread (why can't I remember the name of the thread?)
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plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 03:41 pm
Houses like that are not to my taste and I had only a passing appreciation for number 6 which somewhat resembles a house in my town, which has a bit of resemblance to an old style ocean liner.
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CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 03:43 pm
Unfortunately, these type of houses are seen throughout the southern
California landscape now. In my town there is such an awful monstrosity
with mostly grey concrete walls inside and out, right next to a beautiful
spanish architectural masterpiece. I couldn't believe that the coastal
commission would allow the (modern, young architect) to build such
an eye sore. Sad
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squinney
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 04:00 pm
I didn't care for any of them. I'm too traditional, I suppose. Give me a bungalow...

http://www.bedfordtradition.com/builderpages/bungalows/preservation.jpg

or Charleston...

http://www.bedfordtradition.com/builderpages/charleston/2_impact_small.jpg
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 04:03 pm
At the end of the article, someone who has a book or teaches a class on the subject, how soon I forget, was saying something about ethics of fitting in the surrounding context.

There was a big bruhaha not so long ago in San Francisco, which is a city with a lot of pride in its buildings and a seemingly general desire to keep a certain, ah, tone.... over a building by, gee, either Koolhass or Piano, not over the size of the building as I remember, but because of the style clash.
San Francisco is oft criticized for its proviciality, but also somewhat treasure for it.

When I was first on another webforum, Paola and I and Lightwizard went around and around arguing about a Richard Meier edifice that was going in to enclose the Ara Pacis in Rome. Same argument, not about size, but "fit".

I love a lot of exploratory/playful architecture. Just want it tuned in some way to the surroundings - in some places, not every place. Some neighborhoods, some whole towns, have a certain presence... that I hate to see overwhelmed.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 04:11 pm
Those are biggish, on big lots.. but what if someone built a giant boxy grey concrete thing next to one of them... yaaaack.

er, talk about lox colored...

but I like both places, first one better. I've always been drawn more to bungalow/craftsman style more than victorian, but that's just me.

CJane, I love the spanish styles too. I love love love an old tract of just south of Wilshire/north of Olympic spanish style two stories in Beverly Hills...
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 04:15 pm
When my ex and I remodelled our old bungalow we stayed for a few weeks in one of those old spanish two stories... while the friend who owned it was travelling. I did a photo shoot of things like the door knobs (one was black glass), the staircase (fronted with probably Malibu tiles, or at least gorgeous tiles). Ah, sigh.
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CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 06:22 pm
They (Spanish houses) are beautiful, aren't they? I just come home from
Mission Hills, a SD neighborhood, and there you'll find beautiful old
Mission style houses that are equally nice in architecture
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Sep, 2006 06:45 pm
So, there... I think there is a real pull to the neighborhood thing, especially if it has some architectural and human coherence... and, if it is not necessarily of arch historical quality, but has its own interesting quality... at the same time I know buildings move on, and should, over time. But I'm inclined to be protective about where they do that.
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plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2006 01:50 pm
I like the feeling of an architecturally mixed neighborhood, although I like the houses to be somewhat, but not rigidly, sized. Older neighborhoods, especially the ones in the east that may have begun as early as the 17th or 18th C. and continued to be lived in, are the best. I just hate "developments" with all the same fad features, house after house.
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flushd
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 09:57 pm
Those houses are not to my taste. Actually, I find them rather ugly and cold.

I can appreciate how someone may like it, I suppose, but can't truly understand why they would build there. IMHO, a house like that needs a big lot, or something to create space between it and on side.

They scream Egotism to me as they are. So big, so obvious, so assuming.

Is there much space in that area? Is it very expensive to live there?

I don't know much about ethics and I don't know much about architecture, but this just seems to be bad manners. Know what I mean? Like the guy running you off the road with his Hummer.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 10:00 pm
Yes, I know what you mean.
0 Replies
 
 

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