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Not So Big House a trend or a fad?

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:58 am
by Paul Ringstrom

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:02 pm
by Roderick Grant
"Not So Big" will fade away as soon as the economy rebounds. Big houses have nothing to do with roominess for the family, but "keeping up with and passing the Joneses."

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:22 pm
by Paul Ringstrom
You may be correct, but the Jones are not as rich as they used to be either.

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:19 pm
by SDR
I'm hopeful that a trend is being established. But he's right about the tendency to eat what's on the table; after the first oil crisis and the first boom in more modest and economical autos, the Bulgemobile returned with the tide of lower fuel prices.

Again and again I am reminded of an animated short I saw sometime in the 'seventies at one of those international film festivals. A society of mosquito-like insects feeds on the body of a sleeping giant. It's a fat time; little insect-sized saloons ring with laughter and song. When they suck so much fluid out of a giant finger that it shrivels in size, the giant awakes in anger and swats at them. Panic: the mosquitos go to insect church and pray for forgiveness -- or whatever. In the final scene, God's hand descends from the heavens, pointing at the "sinners" -- who can't resist sticking their greedy suckers into it !


Not so Big House

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:58 pm
by Unbrook
In her books Susanka has plans for "Not So Big Houses" which seem as complicated as McMansions. Mr. Wright's early Usonian houses seem so pure in contrast. The element which does not seem to be addressed is the cost. The houses may not be large, but they don't seem to be that much less expensive. Certainly not housing for a family of moderate income.

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:48 pm
by Paul Ringstrom
You are absolutely correct in your analysis. Her house plans that are offered for sale at this site: range in size from 2100 to 3000 sq ft. and none of them look cheap to build.

Her plans at this site are somewhat smaller, but include some one bedroom houses:

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:50 pm
by Paul Ringstrom
National Association of Home Builders: NEW HOME IN 2015 ... nnelID=311

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:47 pm
by SDR
Fascinating. Looks like we've reached a "watershed moment" ?


Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:10 pm
by karnut
She has nothing to say for herself, A rehash & badly done of Mr. Wrights words. :?

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:59 pm
by Roderick Grant
Susanka started with a good idea, making houses smaller, but that's as far as her idea went. Her designs combine prosaic plans and elevations with overwrought detailing. If you want a good piece of architecture from her book, check out the one Kelly Davis designed and built for himself on pages 101 to 107. He is a first-rate architect.

As far as the 2015 prognostications ... don't hold your breath.

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:00 pm
by peterm
Paul Ringstrom wrote: 2100 to 3000 sq ft. and none of them look cheap to build.
Not having read the book, I am surprised as to what Susanka thinks is "not so big". 1000 square feet of heated interior space is more what I was assuming she would be advocating.

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:12 pm
by Wrightgeek

Once again you have hit the nail on the head. Ms. Susanka is a mildly talented residential architect who reformulated and regurgitated FLW's ideals during the late 90's-early 2000's, and caught the ear of the press by claiming these ideas to be her own, which launched her successful publishing/speaking career.

While her plans are decent enough, they certainly break no new ground, and they are excessively expensive to build due to overwrought detailing, which flies in the face of the stated intention to build smaller, less expensive, more responsible and eco-friendly single family residences.

And you are also correct that Kelly Davis is a truly fantastic organic architect. I had the privilege to visit his Demaster Residence, and it was magnificent. He really gets it, unlike Ms. Susanka, IMHO.

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:47 pm
by SDR

Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:02 pm
by Paul Ringstrom
For those who don't know....

SALA, the firm that Kelly Davis works for, was originally Sarah Susanka's firm prior to her fame as an author and lecturer.

from Wikipedia:
"She was a founding partner, along with her thesis advisor, of the Minneapolis-based residential architecture firm, Mulfinger, Susanka, Mahady & Partners (now known as SALA Architects) before leaving to pursue her writing and speaking career full-time."

Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 7:37 pm
by PNB
I was in a Susanka home once and I found the first floor to be truly wonderful. It had great proportions, materials, and flow - in a word cozy. Then I went upstairs and it was like a completely different architect and not a very good one had designed it.

As for Kelly Davis it is my fervent desire to approach him one day and ask him if he builds houses for people of moderate means. His Strom residence is one of my all time favorites Give me 3-4 years.