Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Put this on your calendar: Alexander Weekend in Palm Springs

If you love MCMs you need to put this on your calendar: March 25-27, 2011 is Alexander Weekend in Palm Springs, CA. This is a celebration of the William Krisel tract homes that are all over Palm Springs. Alexander homes are very similar to the more well known Eichler tract homes.

More info here. H/t to Lushpad.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Can you find an apartment to rent in Downtown Dallas for less than 600/month?

Dallas Observer's Jim Schutze sent the DO's intern out to find out. He posed the question because apparently a lot of the new downtown lofts and apartments were built in part with money from the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In order to get HUD money, you need to have "at least 51 percent of its units set aside for low income tenants."

The post over on Unfair Park is an interesting look into the Downtown Dallas apartment game. There are also some interesting points made in the comments, once you wade through all the name calling.

Why less was more and why it should be that way today

The New York Times has a nice article by Jayne Merkel about how houses after World War II were smaller, efficient, and did not necessarily sacrifice style for efficiency. The question she poses, is:

"As we find ourselves in an era of diminishing resources, could “less” become “more” again?"

The answer for me is yes. I live in a 1964 Atomic Ranch. It is 1800 square feet, 2 bedroom, 2 bath. I only have 2 gripes about the house: 1) the closets are not that big and 2) the shower in the master is like taking a bath in a coffin. In reality, if I truly spent a weekend going through my clothes and doing a hardcore edit, I could probably fit all of my clothes into one closet, instead of two. As for the bathroom - well that is going to take a bit more of a renovation, but one that isn't going to change the footprint, just make better use of the space we have.

Making better use of the space you have - I believe that is key to either dealing with the house you have or the one you want to build. I have been in my share of McMansions and contractor build homes. One of the problems that I see time and time again is the poor use of space. Funky angles, curved walls, weird nooks that serve no purpose. Roof lines - don't get The Architect started on roof lines. While the bedrooms in our house may be small compared to "today", they serve their purpose and we have adapted them to serve our needs. The closets for example - Elfa is our best friend. The bedroom now only has a bed, 2 nightstands, a lamp and a mirror. Once we removed the dresser the place felt so much bigger.

In the living room, which is open plan, had a blank wall about 13 feet high. That was dead space, which for about 3 years was occupied by the largest IKEA bookshelf we could find. And it still didn't hold all of our books and CDs. So after saving up some money we found a mill worker, 3LL Designs, who built us this awesome NINE FEET TALL BY FOURTEEN FEET WIDE bookshelf. We were able to take three rooms worth of books and CDs and put them into the bookshelf in the living room. Oh and if we (or a buyer) ever want to put a TV in the living room, it has a removable section where it is already wired for a TV. (If you want your own freakin huge custom designed bookshelf, The Architect is available for commissions)

There are some people who don't want to live in an old house and want to build their own. That is a dream of mine someday. But too often around Dallas, people will go into established neighborhoods, knock down a perfectly good house and erect a monstrosity that is built to the edge of ALL the property lines. See M streets, UP, HP. A 5,000 sqft house on a lot that originally had a 1500 sqft house just looks stupid. Oh and add that there are only 3 people living in the house. Do you really need all that space or are you just trying to say "mine is bigger than yours." Somehow, I think it is the latter. Cheap land + cheap energy + cheap materials is one of the arguments for why we had the McMansion explosion and probably the ultra luxury hi-rise condo explosion in Dallas as well. Seriously, who is going to live in these things? I certainly don't have the million-plus to live in Museum Tower.

Which leads me to another rant, the untapped market of designing modest modern homes for the true middle class in Dallas. Unless you are a person in the know, the average person who likes modern design (which arguably is not an average person by some people's standards) will be hard pressed to find someone who could build a modern home in the 150,000-250,000 range. The architects are out there, believe me. Some people love the style of MCMs and ranches, but want the new shiny benefits of new construction. Urban Reserve, back at its inception, tried to market itself as a community where the modern middle class could reside, but that has been an utter failure in my opinion. Maybe with all the new "austerity measures" people are trying to implement in their lives, that will force people to think about what they really need, which will in turn spur a demand for new breed of housing. The pessimist in me says, "yeah right", but hey it is Sunday I am willing to be optimistic for a few minutes.

Anyways, what I am trying to say through all of this is that you should really read this article. And I should probably lay off the coffee before I start blogging.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A whole bunch of randomness

Here is what I have been reading lately when I haven't been working:

1. D magazine has a breakdown of the topping off of the arch that will make up the Calatrava Bridge over the Trinity River.

2. Vanity Fair has the most influential architecture built since 1980.

3. Old 97s covers EP "Mimeograph"is out on iTunes. If you become a fan on Facebook you can download the 3 song EP for free.

4. Modern Luxury Dallas is kicking off their Summer Soirees this Saturday at the Hotel Crescent Court and the Living Room Bar at the W.

5. Get read for the Mad Men premiere on July 25th, by starring in your own Mad Men commercial.