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Residential architects building smaller affordable houses

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:57 am
by PNB
One of the things I admire about FLLW was his interest in building affordable beautiful homes for the middle class. Are there any great architects doing this today?

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 12:44 pm
by jlesshafft
Except...wasn't FLW a disaster at that? Every home he designed went way over budget, and ended up beyond the means of normal middle class individuals.

His homes were and still are works of art, but affordable they weren't.

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 12:55 pm
by Johnzerd1
actually a few of them came in under budget....

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 1:17 pm
by PNB
I'm aware that sometimes this was a disaster that nearly ruined the client but there are those like Pope Leighey, Goetsch Winkler, and Jacobs 1 where I believe he didn't strain the clients resources as much. Anyways that is beyond the point of my question so I will state it again. Are there any great architects out there building beautiful homes for the middle class?

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 1:20 pm
by Ed Jarolin
Actually he was pretty successful at staying on budget with the pre-WWII Usonians. Jacobs I and Goetsch-Winckler came in right on the estimates. Pope and Lloyd Lewis were very close, although every item had to be closely monitored, bid out separately, etc. by the apprentice on site. Granted, Hanna with its intricate module is a pre-war that went well over.

I think the massive post-war inflation contributed a great deal to his missing the target with many of the later houses. The growing affluence of his clientele also contributed to his cavalier attitude on budgets.

As a point of interest, here are the wage figures from a 1940 letter between Wright and Loren Pope.

Common laborer: 40 to 50 cents/hour
Bricklayer: 9 to 12 dollars/day
Carpenters: 75 cents to 1.10/hour (higher figure for finish carpenter)
Plumbers: 90 cents to 1.10/hour

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:05 pm
by karnut
Bart Prince could do it. Within budget!!!

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:06 pm
by SDR
I'm not sure how the original question will be answered, except anecdotally. I assume the quest is to know if architect-designed moderate-cost homes are being built, and I don't know where that information might be accumulated. The time and effort to design an original, site- and client-specific structure, with the kind of thoughtful detail that we've come to expect (and that so often looks "simple" in the photos) just doesn't come cheap -- except when the architect is working for himself.

Come to think of it, a good answer might be to look at young architects' own homes. Books of these are published almost yearly, it seems. Although some of the solutions are a bit quirky or iconoclastic -- architects seem willing to put up with some irregularities to the usual domestic pattern -- there is still much to be learned. There are often good examples of budget stretching in these houses.

The extreme economies of projects like the original Levittowns in New York (Long Island) and Pennsylvania depended on a very small number of variations, replicated in the hundreds in one massive building program. Perhaps a combination of this approach, with designs of the sort we prefer, would be possible today ?


Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:13 pm
by JimM
karnut wrote:Bart Prince could do it. Within budget!!!
As wonderful as his work is, there is nothing typical, as far as I know, about the "budgets" Prince usually has to contend with.

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:47 pm
by SDR
That was my impression. Are we wrong, karnut ?

I suppose every architect has at least thought about the problem of affordability. After all, the goal is to get stuff built. . .?


Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 6:10 pm
by Johnzerd1
Define middle class ....... how much does a middle class home cost, the last figure I saw for average household income was around $65,000 ...... how much of a house can you afford? give me a $ figure and what area are you wanting to build in?


Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 6:18 pm
by Deke
The two biggest costs in a single family home at land and labor. Land we can't do much about (though we should), but labor can be economized by the use of pre-fab modules. Course most pre-fab work these days involve steel cages and the results costs millions.


Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 7:25 pm
by PNB
Defining middle class...... that's a term that even the so called experts don't agree on. As for me I did not post this question because I want to build - I am satisfied for now remodeling my somewhat commonplace but extremely livable 50's ranch. My interest in architecture is residential and I prefer smaller well laid out homes.

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:48 pm
by Johnzerd1
I am sure that some would love the challenge, figure on the fee being around 8% of the construction cost....

Posted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:39 pm
by RJH
Here is one of my favorite houses. It was designed in 1949 by a Yale Architect grad Joseph Salerno. He was a FLW fan and had even written FLW and set up a Wright visit and speach to Yale. It was his personal house. Floorplan shape is a shoebox. It is 2BR, 1BA and only around 900 sft. It has a courtyard with a floor to celing glass wall. Roof is sloped facing south. Exterior siding is also used on the interior too. Note the landscaping is all native (but some others not due to new owner) and makes such an impact in "hiding" the house instead of "showing it off" like most houses do. Black band around base (Richard Neutra) makes house float off the ground. 2' wide doors and windows same as FLW. House designed on grid system. But, here architect uses flagstone for outdoor areas which looks beutiful and natural. Very cheap to construct today. All studs. This is the work of a young fresh architect.





bart prince

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:43 am
by karnut
Bart has done a few hud projects, and they are very cool.Prince can do it because he was also trained as a builder. Knows what works, and what won"t.Bart is not only for the rich!!!!!.