George Suyama architect

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SDR
Posts: 19685
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by SDR »

Ah. Is there such a thing as corporate residential ? Cool, suave, and beautifully produced ! It's a pleasure to see that architectural craft is alive and well; there's nothing like minimalist detailing to challenge the makers, and to see the worthy rise to the top . . .

S

Matt2
Posts: 259
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:07 pm

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by Matt2 »

Most people don't have a choice in housing anymore. Especially in booming tech hubs, you're lucky to take what you can get. Would people like a different type of house? Sure. Why is mid-century so popular now? And yet are developers building' mid-century style spec homes? No. They want to appeal to a wide audience and you do that by staying in the center lane and producing middle-of-the-road design. It is a shame we don't know what Suyama or Kundig would do if given a typical 50x100 lot and a modest budget. That was the situation in the mid-century when modern-architects had lots of opportunity to create modern designs, and even developers like Eichler offered spec-modern homes.

jay
Posts: 299
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 8:04 pm

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by jay »

Tom Kundig did a modest house (2200 SF) in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle....lot size under 4000SF.
https://olsonkundig.com/projects/hammer-house/
https://www.seattlepi.com/realestate/ar ... to-6511896

While the home seems pricey from the listing ($1.4m), it's worth noting that every home in that neighborhood starts at $1m. So the Kundig home isn't much inflated for the area.

Matt2
Posts: 259
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:07 pm

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by Matt2 »

I'd hardly call that a modest home. One trait of billionaire class materials is the robust engineering involved. All these homes...Suyama, Kundig, Olson here in Seattle...are engineered like skyscrapers with commercial level materials.

I still see this as a bad omen for our society, if not for our architecture.

jay
Posts: 299
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 8:04 pm

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by jay »

Certainly not "modest" in average housing markets..... but in Seattle context...isn't it?

SDR
Posts: 19685
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by SDR »

Jay transmits this graphic:

Image

Matt2
Posts: 259
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:07 pm

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by Matt2 »

It's not about price but affordability. Yes, over the past decade with the rise of Amazon and the flood of high-wage tech workers into the city, the average home price is off the hook. But look at this this way:

1950s--median priced home price was two years of median income.
2020--median home price is now ten years of median income.

And keep in mind that median. Half the population makes less than median income each year. So these home are really only affordable by double-income tech-couples.

jay
Posts: 299
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 8:04 pm

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by jay »

You'll get no argument from me about the immoral state of the American economy. However I'm not convinced that cherry-picking a particular decade and making present-day comparisons to it is overly convincing. For instance, in the 1950s, white men dominated the workforce, while raw materials were far cheaper, and I imagine labor prices as well...not to mention unbuilt property was much more widely available. So, higher incomes from a smaller workforce, plus cheaper materials, labor, and land... Don't these things account for at least a decent portion of the house-to-income discrepancies you cite?

Or, for example, if someone wanted to compare today's housing prices to the 1980s, they'd need to factor in an average interest rate of 12%. Compared to today's 4% interest rate, the 1980s market would give an entirely different skewed image of "affordability" in housing:
$300,000 on 30 year mortgage @ 4% = $1500.00 monthly payment
$300,000 on 30 year mortgage @ 12% = $3000.00 monthly payment

Granted, you state earlier that the 'mid-century' stuff was an opportunity for architects, which I agree with, and perhaps we should look at it as a "ripe" era thanks to its conditions (some of which weren't ideal for a fully equal society).

But.....we are discussing this on a Frank Lloyd Wright site, which always brings us back to the myth of Wright's "affordable" homes.... You cite Wright's "Seth Peterson Cottage", which if I remember correctly, cost somewhere around a half million dollars to rehabilitate?

Moreover, I think it's a mistake to chastise any architect for doing what he or she thinks they need to do to get their designs built. (Or as Jay-Z says "You can't knock the hustle".) Every "artist" is a beneficiary or victim of their era. One can simply look to Wright and see how much he benefitted from the post-war boom, or conversely his early-Depression years when he had zero projects... Architects today, like everyone else, have to navigate the imbalanced and immoral American economy and try to do good work. Suyama and Kundig I believe have impressive portfolios, particularly when you factor in the very conditions you/we are upset about. These architects are navigating rich clients who want big contemporary houses, while offering, at least in my opinion, designs that embody many architectural sensibilities which Wrightians can agree with.

Matt2
Posts: 259
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:07 pm

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by Matt2 »

All true. Architects are prisoners of the age in which they live.

I still find that Suyama home in the original post really cold.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10335
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: George Suyama architect

Post by Roderick Grant »

Another factor to be considered for evaluating the 1950s: Income taxes were sky-high owing to the necessity of paying the bill for WWII. Today's middle class would blanch at the thought of paying taxes at those rates. Unionism was rampant, which created high-paying jobs for union members, but cost consumers a lot. Like it or not, unionism is less popular today than in Eugene V. Debs' day. High taxes and unionism inflated the cost of middle class house construction. Periodic recessions didn't help, either. I recall a "shocking" news story about inflation, stating that, if things kept going the way they were going (around mid-50s) a loaf of bread could cost 40 cents!! In addition, after the war, veterans had easy access to higher education, which gave them a broader range of professions to explore. By the end of the 50s, for an architect to specialize in residential work was simply not profitable, unless the client was loaded.

The long and short of it is, you cannot make sound economic comparisons from one decade to another, especially if there are 6 decades in between. Morality and economy are like water and oil, they don't mix. When one goes up, the other goes down. Economy has the edge; no one wants to be poor, so everybody is likely to follow the money. There's not much that can be done about it.

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