I opened the newspaper this morning and saw that this is the final weekend for the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association’s 2008 Parade of Homes. It’s an event for local builders to show off their newest creations. As a lover of residential architecture and having done some home construction myself, I’m always interested in what the new homes are looking like and how they are contributing to the visual landscape of the area. Unfortunately, what caught my attention as I stared at the two page layout of thumbnail pictures of the 51 homes on the tour was how all the houses looked virtually identical. Ugh! It was a homogenous field of multi-ridgelined, clapboard or brick-faced neocolonial and fake federal facades (aka McMansion). At least a couple were watered down versions of craftsman. But beyond that, there wasn’t anything interesting to look at. For you to get the idea, here’s a sampling:
What happened to good, creative, contemporary design? Why can’t we be given something interesting to look at? What we have are stock designs made from stock materials. It feels like you can buy these houses off the shelf at Lowe’s or Home Depot… or Wal-Mart. Doesn’t anyone watch HGTV? This Old House? Haven’t these builders and designers figured out that uniqueness and creativity sells? I would think if you want to show off your product, it should stand out from the rest. Guess I’m mistaken.
Laura and I are always amazed when we visit friends who live in the Midwest and see just how great their neighborhoods are. It’s a limitless show of a variety of architectural styles. I’m not saying every other home needs to be a Frank Lloyd Wright or I.M Pei or Michael Graves or Philip Johnson design. I just think that with the wealth of building materials and streamlined construction techniques currently available, can’t we get a little of that good’ol mid-century aesthetic today?