architecture

San Luis Valley - chapels

Chapels of the San Luis Valley

For many years, I have been taking trips to the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. This area feels very different from either the Front Range or the Western Slope and is marked by tiny settlements and the vase expanse of the wide valley. Of particular interest to me are the simple chapels and churches, dotted across the landscape, some lovingly cared for, others abandoned.

A Field Guide to Ugly Houses - Style Abuse Disorder (SAD)

I am not an advocate for building in a "style".  Thinking of buildings as simply constructions that you can hang different style clothes on runs counter to my work as an architect.  However, if you don't have an architect or don't want one, maybe the nineteenth century idea of pattern books is a good idea to help you avoid Style Abuse Disorder (SAD).

A Field Guide to Ugly Houses - the taxonomy

A field guide to ugly houses

I look at a lot of ugly houses.  No one who has a really beautiful house needs my help as an architect - they are willing to live with a too small house or a dysfunctional house because it is so well-suited to its site and well-composed.  No, as about half my work is in renovations and additions, I see awkward houses with garage snouts sticking out front, Cape Cods with a cornucopia of bad additions, and lots and lots of ranchburgers. What has struck me over the years is that house-ugly comes in distinct forms.  There is a veritable taxonomy of classification for the types of ugly, bad, horrible and embarrassing houses.

Sunshine Canyon A-frames

I am working on a remodel and addition to an odd A-frame hybrid house at the base of Sunshine Canyon, just west of Boulder.  The original house, built in 1964, was designed by architect Richard Brown.  Brown designed a number of these modified A-frame houses, mostly around Boulder, before he later took that form and proceeded to design churches.

A Field Guide to Ugly Houses - Ugly by Design

another post in the ongoing series A Field Guide to Ugly Houses

UBD -Ugly By Design

Of the many types of ugly that inflict the American house, Ugly by Design, although not the most pervasive, it is certainly the most offensive.  These houses clearly fall into the "what were they thinking" category of a design idea gone wrong. Sometimes Ugly by Design is the result of a once-interesting and innovative design idea that has past its shelf-date.

Midwestern churches

MIDWESTERN CHURCHES

As I have talked about in a couple of recent posts on the flatness of the Midwest, a simple building standing in that relentlessly horizontal landscape is a powerful, singular moment.  This is even more apparent when it is a church, rising upward to heaven, a determinedly vertical building contrasting the vast horizon.