In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Dog-Training Video Linkage | Main | Boomer Embarrassments »

June 19, 2007

Industrial-Style Upscale Housing

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

A current architectural style fad is what I'll term "Industrial-Look Housing." It seems most commonly used for apartment buildings. Perhaps you've noticed such structures with curtain walls with vertical or horizontal stamped linear elements and perhaps painted using several bold colors.

That style also can be found in single-family houses, even some in upscale neighborhoods. Below is an example I came across in Seattle.


This is a house one drives by shortly after entering the neighborhood. It's a bit fancier than most of the others, but it does set the tone.

Another fine, traditional-style house. But kitty-corner from it is ...

... this Industrial-Look house.

Here's a picture of it looking uphill. I think the vertical-motif cladding on the top floor makes this house first-cousin to a pre-fab warehouse and not in keeping with its (likely) $2 million-ish value.

Granted, the site is awkward enough that a traditional-style house might be hard to design. (Most new houses in the neighborhood are traditional in various guises.) And perhaps the interior is well thought out and lovely beyond comprehension. Nevertheless, I don't find Industrial-Look houses attractive, and I think this one is an eyesore in the context of the neighborhood.



posted by Donald at June 19, 2007


Ivy - I'm half serious - would go a long way toward softening this eyesore. But then it wouldn't be cutting edge anymore. You can't win.

Posted by: ricpic on June 19, 2007 9:38 PM

"I'm too cool for my neighborhood."

Posted by: Rick Darby on June 19, 2007 10:36 PM

These 'industrial-theme' homes remind me of the Australian upper-crusty fad for diminutive male-names: Jack, Harry etc. Those who feel safely removed from the factory-floor enjoy a few mocking references to it in their architecture and their children's appelations. Why, they might even join an elite 'industrial-theme' club called a 'Labor' party.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on June 19, 2007 11:21 PM

i prefer the term "faux-industrial"

Posted by: J on June 20, 2007 1:00 AM

Pass a law that every new house should have mirror-walls around it, so that the inhabitants -as well as the neighbours - have to live with its appearance. That'll fix it. And, if not, that'll hide it.

Posted by: dearieme on June 20, 2007 2:19 AM

Both houses look like crap.

Posted by: The Social Pathologist on June 20, 2007 7:01 AM

oh, right, dearieme, just like an European - "pass a law"!

I don't know, Donald, what are you complaining about - 1)ribbed metal sheets provide some textural relief from the blandness of the facade you hate so much 2)if somebody is willing to pay 2mln for a house he obviously expressed his aesthetic preference with this decision. You will not expect him to pay for a house to satisfy your aesthetic preferences, would you?
It's his property and his business. Community busybodies be damned.

Posted by: Tatyana on June 20, 2007 9:05 AM

Tat -- I'm not saying that the owner should be tarred, feathered, run out of town. What I was (implicitly) saying is that the owner and the architect who design the building had what I consider poor judgment regarding the style / location matter and poor taste in domestic architectural style.

To expand on this, I'll assert that I think such houses look cheap, no matter what their current market value. And I also think they won't age well aesthetically or physically; the houses in the first two photos are probably 60-70 years old or thereabouts and still look good.

You are free to disagree, of course, because we're dealing with opinions and judgments -- not factual matters.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on June 20, 2007 10:32 AM

The industrial-style house reminds me of some chic-er-than-usual Rite-Aid drugstore. Funny how the "design" set often sees themselves as innovative and accuses the traditionalists of being Disneyish, when the stuff that the "design" set makes these days tends to look like today's shopping malls ...

The whole laws-and-styles question is interesting, no? On the one hand: we should be able to do as we please with our own possessions. On the other: well, it's not as if what we do with our land and our houses has zero impact on our neighbors. We feel entitled to bitch about it (and run, if necessary, to the cops) if a neighbor plays music too loud. Why shouldn't we be able to complain about visual offenses, especially ones that alter (and besmirch) the character of a much-loved neighborhood?

On the other hand ... Etc, etc. Which is one of the reasons the whole "architecture" question is perpetually fascinating.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 20, 2007 11:03 AM

Curmudgeonly note: I'm afraid I agree with the one who said they all look like crap. Long ago, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright tried to showed us how to bring a great style to domestic architecture, but we (and by "we" I mean almost everyone but me) decided to take another path. Why? Maybe their way required too much architectural talent.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on June 20, 2007 11:49 AM

The house does look ugly (and I agree with above commenters who said all pictured houses are), but there is a short road - or is it a step?- from disliking something and advocating a public policy against it.
Which seems to be the American way, paradoxically.

Posted by: Tatyana on June 20, 2007 12:06 PM

My own aesthetics are such that, given a choice between the two houses shown I prefer the faux industrial to the faux Tudor ... although neither looks like what I would create starting from scratch. One thing that stikes me immediately is that I suspect the INTERIOR of the faux industrial would be far closer to the kind of home environment in which I'd want to live. The faux Tudor looks (relatively speaking) dark (note small number and size of windows) and like there is a lot of wasted/unusable space (note the roofline).

Posted by: Chris White on June 20, 2007 12:39 PM

Actually, Tat, "just like a European", mild sarcasm. You can buy a detector, you know.

Posted by: dearieme on June 20, 2007 12:51 PM

Chris -- I agree with you regarding interiors. Older houses usually have small (by current standards) rooms with doors -- not permanently open doorways.

This is probably stems from the heating technology of houses built 150+ years ago and the culural norms in those days. Hence, a period-type design (Norman, say) executed in 1927, would likely tend to have those features.

Given present HVAC technology and lifestyles, large rooms and flowing spaces are the expectation. I can't afford those houses pictured in the post. But if I could, and if I had enough extra cash to do a major renovation, I'd be sorely tempted to knock out some walls and thoroughly modernize the interior.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on June 20, 2007 1:01 PM

I got it the first time, dearieme (my detector is bigger than yours), but some cliches should be off limits in polite company. I think there is a law against it.

Posted by: Tatyana on June 20, 2007 1:48 PM

A semi-modernized old house always strikes me as a nice combo -- rooms, but open ones! (I generally hate the way modernist structures peddle "spaces" instead of rooms. Seems like a fine approach for a big-box store, but I want a house to be more fixed and cozy myself.) Auden was once asked what his ideal place of abode would be, and he said something like "A 19th century British house with 20th century plumbing."

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 20, 2007 2:03 PM

Houston is full of these things. They demolished the old Fourth Ward ghetto and built an entire neighborhood of them. The best thing with the industrial look is that no one will care when they get knocked down 15 years after they are built.

Posted by: b.s. on June 20, 2007 2:12 PM

The Lester Hunt remark:

"...and by 'we' I mean almost everyone but me:" don't we all.

Posted by: ricpic on June 20, 2007 7:12 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?