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Taking into account such factors as the cost of development, the affordability of finished homes, how complex the plans could be without scaring away competent builders, and how Usonian the homes could be without scaring away the average buyer (and any other factors that concern you), which ONE of Wright's built designs would be your basic model, and what would you expect to list it for?
How about a neighborhood with a mix of single and two-story designs, either all hip-roofed or flat-roofed or even (as a nod to some typical suburban neighborhoods, c 2008) a mix of Prairie hipped and Usonian flat-roofed types ?
But this may not accord with your vision. Please continue.
So, to begin to answer your question about which design to choose and what would it list for - more would need to be known up front about comparable surrounding land and home values, which are the biggest determinants in what buyers would be willing to pay.
Perhaps if you started with an average figure - say $1,000,000 - you could better try and 'reverse economically engineer' a Usonian that could be built for that amount. But my guess is that square-footage-wise it wouldn't come close to what the McMansion's would have, thereby making the Usonians less desirable to market and sell in comparison. Sad, but true.
There's no doubt that Dryvit over Styrofoam, and Sheetrock, cost less than brick and cypress. The price of a Usonian comes down if material substitutions are made; I'd be curious to know by how much. . .
My earlier suggestion was based in part on the impression I have that a Prairie design could be approximated for somewhat less per foot than a Usonian, given the difference in material usage.
Why can't a simple house like Hunt II be built today?
Doug Kottum, Battle Lake, MN
As much as I favor Wright's Usonians, I think they are still a bit beyond the public's grasp psychologically and financially. Every time my wife and I talk about our move to the Sweeton house (soon now), the conversation always slips into the other party saying "oh, only ONE bath?" or "oh, a GALLEY kitchen?"..I could go on. They don't get it. When the "low end" McMansions cost too much for the middle-middle class to heat and cool they might, but not yet.
The Usonian, as built by Wright, is not within the general public's financial grasp either. It is details are too precise and skilled labor intensive to be built for the mass market. I'm currently pricing homeowner's insurance for Sweeton. I want it insured for what it costs to replicate, not just its market value. I met with a historical restoration contractor familiar with modern architecture in general and Wright in particular for an appraisal...his view of Sweeton was that the CMU, concrete, and rough framing are not that expensive to replicate..the devil is in all the custom millwork and material costs for the windows,doors, mullions, plywood partitions, and cabinets. The cost to replicate is surprising for a 1500 sf house. You might say "well, those items could be substituted on a new Usonian with less expensive catalog items, and interior partitions could be studs and drywall...", those choices have been made by Taliesin Architects on a lot of their Legacies and Life houses much to this board's dissatisfaction.
The Usonian ideal is very relavant for production today if the public will embrace it, and if we as architects determine a new language, or "grammar" as Wright would call it, that is economical, sustainable, and captures that elegant order, rhythm, and human quality that Wright had that always seems just beyond our grasp. That's our challenge.
A lot of people, even those who are fans of modern design and of Wright's work, are just uneasy with a flat roof -- despite today's foolproof membrane technology, etc. So there's that to contend with.
Replacement value is the only true measure. Just because Jacobs I cost $5500 dollars or so in 1936 doesn't mean it wouldn't cost at least $800,000 to build today -- or is it more than a million ? My parents bought a 'thirties-built "Dutch colonial" foursquare in a New York suburb in 1947, for $12,000. Today, that property will fetch about $900,000. My dad would be amazed, no doubt. While real estate values and construction costs are not necessarily the same thing, the trend is certainly clear.