Friday, April 16, 2004

Plat House progress - cabinetry modeled

Cabinet models are "installed". Kitchen cabinets, bedroom closets, utility room, coat closet, and the long storage wall in the living areas. This design always had a great amount of storage for a small house.

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Plat House progress - painting day

I'm painting inside today. Cabinets and other interior fit out items are next. This house has a lot of cabinets so this will take a while.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Plat House progress - massing complete

Rough massing of the house model is complete. The massing is complete, now detail must be added, the windows and doors, siding and trim. Hopefully it is starting to look more familiar once again.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Plat House progress - quick update

just a quick update on the progress a new image, the ground floor walls are being raised

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Monday, April 12, 2004

Plat House progress - begins

Work begins on the development of Design Prints for the Plat House. A little history is in order. This design began as a project for a guest house, one that was never completed. Images of the original design can be seen at our site on a place-holder page in our catalog. There is more of an explanation of the design there. It is being updated for our Stock Plan collection now. Here the model is now under way. The ground floor is modeled up, all but the steps from the deck, and the drawing template for the elevations is visible.

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Sunday, April 11, 2004

roots of this re-modern movement: history

A look back to the origins of the original modern movement. I want to continue the train of thought I began with my last design issues entry about the motivations and values of the new generation of modernists. This time I want to look back at the original modern movement because I think it can shed some light. The original modern movement all but revolutionized the design of everything we build today - how often is something built today as it was before the modern movement? Peoples expectation of commercial and institutional architecture has been completely reshaped by it - there was a broad shift in values. It took many years but modern design was accepted, even expected as default, in these environments. Somehow it failed to take hold in residential architecture the same way. So I am curious, to look back at what was going on when the original modern movement arrived - can we see the same "roots" in our current situation? I have been reading, very slowly, a great history of the modern movement called Space, Time and Architecture by Giedion. Its a classic history of the movement, unique because it was written in great part shortly after the modern movement arrived. Some how the further you look back, the more history gets condensed, but this book is extensive on the minutia of developments that contributed in someway to the burgeoning movement, much of the research coming directly from interviews with the participants or accounts of then current events. It speaks with a voice of being there and witnessing it. That does sound fascinating, doesn't it, but I have been reading it very slowly because at the outset this and many other histories of this period begin by covering the roots of developments in construction technology which eventually led to the steel and reinforced concrete construction that was so identified with the modern movement and is the common mode of construction today. We begin with the use of cast iron in architecture and how it stood in for timber and masonry piers in mill buildings, how these early iron structures eventually led to great spans in bridges, exhibition halls, and monumental engineering as by Eiffel. Many examples show how these new technologies enabled new ways of making space, and hence brought forth a new architecture that explored the new kinds of spaces that were now possible. I've been down this road in many a history book, but probably never with so much detail and cited examples, it fully consumed half the book. I expected the author to simply follow through on the foundation he had laid by demonstrating these construction breakthroughs applied in modern buildings, but he didn't. Much to my surprise the following section of the book was titled "The Demand for Morality in Architecture" and I nearly dropped the book! Now the author had my attention. Under the heading of What were the sources of this Movement he says simply

According to the easy explanation that was advanced later the movement developed as the application of two principles: the abandonment of historical styles, and ... the use of "fitness for purpose" as a criterion
That in a nutshell are the two maxims of less is more and form follows function. He goes on The explanation is correct, inasmuch as both these factors were involved. but it does not go far enough. The movement took its strength from the moral demands which were its real source. What was the situation that this moral demand rose against? He explained in the proceeding section
There are whole decades in the second half of the nineteenth century in which no architectural work of any significance is encountered. Does that parallel housing in the US? Eclecticism (historic) smothered all creative energy. Dissatisfaction with this almost universal state of affairs reached its peak around 1890 and explains that Dutch architect Berlage was denouncing the prevailing architecture as "Sham architecture; ie., imitation: ie., lying" and quotes Our parents and grandparents as well as ourselves have lived and still live in surroundings more hideous than any known before . . . Lying is the rule, truth is the exception"
Did he write that last week about american suburbs? No, it was 1890. Curious. But why now, why so sudden this interest, 1200 people signing up for LiveModern, 300,000 issues of Dwell. The book goes on
The smoldering hatred of eclecticism came to a head in Europe with startling suddenness. . . Ambition revives and brings with it courage and strength to oppose those forces which had kept life from finding its true forms.
In a more personal account he describes his interview with Henri van de Velde who described the situation as:
The real forms of things were covered over. In this period the revolt against the falsification of forms and against the past was a moral revolt.
He goes on to describe van de Velde's experience seeking a home for his family:
I told myself - this was in 1892 - that I would never allow my wife and family to find themselves in immoral surroundings." But at that date everything that one could by on the open market was smothered under the mensonge des formes (lie of the forms.)
I'm not making this up! He goes on to describe the house that van de Velde finally designed for his family, and which launched his entry into architecture
It showed a remarkable freedom in the treatment of the roof and in the way in which the windows were cut out to meet the special requirements of each room. The revolution this house provoked when it was completed in 1896 derived from its pronounced simplicity, in strong contrast with the over-fanciful facades to which people were accustomed.
It would be hard to confuse van de Velde's house with modern architecture, but in its context it was radically minimal. The parallels are obvious, but I am not a scholar to look at them really critically. Never the less the questions they raise are for anyone to ponder. Are the same dissatisfactions with the status quo brewing now? Is it the hypocrisy of the status quo in housing, the thin and overtly false historicism which characterizes most speculative housing, bringing about a moral revolt, one that modernism is a natural counterpoint to? Are there some technological developments in housing today that parallel the development of iron, steel, and reinforced concrete? Does pre-fab hold this promise? Sustainable building? Or is it the opposite of a technological breakthrough - the bogging down of construction with higher labor and material costs? Enough for now! Previous comments:
sadly Posted by Matt_Arnold at 04-04-2004 02:16 PM Sadly, the parallels are great, here, a hundred years later. But even more sadly, to a very large degree in American culture, money trumps morality every trip of the train. People are swayed by financial arguments, when they only nod sadly in agreement with arguments that tell them what is right. But we are a nation of sub-cultures, and I believe the modernist subculture is growing rapidly, especially among environmentally-minded people. Architecture and morality? Posted by Rous at 05-03-2004 07:03 PM It is amazing the degree to which the 1890s parallels the 1990s regarding architecture and the minority opinion that the status quo is not good. As much as I want to agree that the current state of housing design, with all its phoniness, is immoral, I have trouble hanging that word on something like aesthetics. Isn't it a bit like saying that someone who dresses poorly, or wears too much makeup is immoral? I generally try to reserve that word for actions in which others are harmed against their will. For example, I do think that SUVs are immoral, but that has to do with the cost those vehicles place on others (increased damage to other vehicles in an accident and increased pollution). Although I do not know if it is true, I would guess that most people, if asked, would say that phoniness (in general) is not a good thing. However, I wonder how much people really believe it. Few peope these days put Continental tire kits on their cars but there is a market for fake convertible tops. It used to be that people tried hard to keep others from knowing about cosmetic surgery, but now it is more of a status symbol. People seem to fully buy into the new housing design and sprawling development, but does that indicate immorality or just bad taste? I think it is possible to make a better argument for the immorality of post-war suburban development with its increased reliance on cars, gasoline, subsidized roads, segregation of social groups (by race and income), etc. modernism moral? or a symptom of morality? Posted by lavardera at 05-03-2004 07:50 PM I need to examine the idea more in another essay as I have been worrying over the questions you raise. I mean it sounds zealous to accuse somebody of being immoral because they don't like modern design? No, thats not what the this is about. Its the leap from a context of blatant contradictions, to bad choices - and somehow it becomes an easier leap. Phony old houses are the norm, and thats ok, not just ok, its the ideal, the aspiration, an obvious lie, from here the big vehicle, that is supposed to be rough and tough yet never leaves a paved road, another ideal, aspiration, another obvious lie, one that more people would declare harmful, it uses more fuel than it needs to, one that is a threat to smaller more efficient vehicles. But that was an easy leap. Where do we go from there? The crisis in corporate americas scandals? I think there were many other small leaps to get to that, and I'm sure each was easy. Its not that somebody is immoral if they don't like modern design. But perhaps the modernist is in someway more resistant to this immoral chain reaction.

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Saturday, April 10, 2004

Steel Case House mods - Design Posted

The Steel Case House Metal Edition has been posted. This all metal modification to the Steel Case House stock plan has been posted to its own web page in our online catalog and officially titled the Steel Case House Metal Edition. All of the renderings have been generated and the web page follows the same structure as the original design's . Right now this page is not linked from the catalog directory - you can not navigate to the page unless you know the url, or if you have come through this blog's link. We want to gauge the interest in this all metal design among the people who interested in modern houses, who have been watching the design process and reading livemodern in general. Send us an email if you are hesitant to post, let us know what you think of this.

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Friday, April 09, 2004

Steel Case House mods - another preview

A view of the more or less complete modifications. There are just a few items that I need to revise and the model will be complete for generating the renderings. But more or less, there it is - the Steel Case House in its new all metal clothes! I have decided to show the overhang braces in this version as they will be required almost anywhere that has any snow load. I am quite pleased with the transformation and what light it sheds on the design. One of the goals of my own design brief for these stock plans is to create house designs that can stand up to personalization, execution in a variety of materials without losing their integrity. I think this redressing speaks to that. The original for comparison. I am not going to be showing too much more now till it appears on the lamidesign site in the plan catalog. If this metal version connects with you let us know about it. I am trying to gauge how people feel about it while we work on making it available. Shoot us an email at

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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Steel Case House mods - early preview

I thought I would offer this low res draft image as a good preview of how the changes to the house appear on the interior. This is a direct comparison for the corresponding image from the original design . There is more work to do, but almost everything in this view is complete. previous comments:

Posted by Rous at 05-03-2004 05:55 PM As a big fan of CSH8, when I first saw the Steel Case house I loved it, but wondered if I would like it more if there was more steel in it. Now I have seen it both ways and must say I prefer the original version with CMU and wood floors. Maybe it is the Sketch-up images, but the steel that replaced the CMU seems a bit too heavy and industrial for the rest of the house. One of the great things, IMO about the Eames house is how it looks so light and airy. As strange as it may seem, I think the CMU version gets at that more than the steel version.
Posted by lavardera at 05-03-2004 06:29 PM All good observations Jeff. The original version's wood floors mediate the hardness of the cmu wall and the steel frame. The metal version's steel panel wall and concrete slab floors leaves it without much warmth. I leave it to you to decide which version appeals to you - the extreme that each represents is a useful sounding board for sizing up your own preferences. Here in the north east I would tend towards the original (probably the upcoming SIPs version which will trade out the CMU wall for an 8" wall of insulated panels.) Its telling that there have been serious inquiries about the metal version for areas of CA subject to wild fires.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

roots of this re-modern movement

I am going to coin a new title for what's going on here with this renewed modern movement. Re-Modern I'm going to call it, re-mod for short. I have been trying to come to terms recently with my motivations for creating these stock plans. I mean beyond the obvious, yes, I am selling them to expand my business, modern houses because I love modern design. I am trying to come to an understanding of why I want to do this in the context of these plans being an agent of change in the housing marketplace. I won't flatter myself as whatever change they may bring about may be very small, but rather it is something that I am able to do no matter how small it is in the big picture. I have laid down some thoughts in the course of posting to the message board at LiveModern, but I thought it would be worthwhile to post a narrative of these thoughts as part of my blog so I could pursue the thoughts outside the conversation of a forum. On this thread we were discussing the cause and meaning of the trend of "tagging" in suburban developments. Whether related or not it brought on this train of thought which I will copy and paste here: We talk about Modern being a lifestyle right - its not just about collecting nice furniture and having big windows, right? I have been trying to pin down the values that it represents. I think at the core is not kidding yourself about "where" you are - the most obvious manifestation of that value is no phony cutesy historical styles for my home in the here and now. Now I extrapolate that to somebody who sees no conflict in living in a phony historical home, and what other kind of contradictions are they willing to accept, ignore, or be ignorant of? Where else are they willing to kid themselves? There is a big leap of thought in that quote which I want to try and think through at a slower pace. I don't believe that I can map clear stepping stones from the postulation to the conclusion, but I do think I can fill in the gaps a bit more. Where I am coming from is this - that the people coming out of the woodwork these days at LiveModern, at Dwell, at fabprefab, the thousands of people who seem passionate about modern houses, they feel this way not just because a modern house looks cool - it appeals to them, or maybe it looks cool to them because it reflects their values. I mean "reflect" in a quasi-literal way: they look at these modern houses and they see themselves in it, meaning not just they see themselves living in it, they see it as representing the way they want to live their lives. I am going to expand on this in future posts, think about the values this all represents, what is important to this new class of modernists, and maybe you all will help me with it. Ok thats the first part of my quote. The second is my so called conclusion. I am jumping to conclusions here - like if the lights are on in the house, then it must be dark outside. Well it is a not necessarily true but I've seen it before kind of thing. I am projecting on my observations about the people who could care less about modern design, and for whatever reason have as their life ideal a suburban mcmansion. I am proposing that it is not just simply a harmless status quo, and there is at the very least some virtue to being a modernist that goes above and beyond simply liking good design, but that it is an indicator of more thoughtful or responsible values, values that could stand to make the world a better place to live. Whew - that is quite a leap, huh? Well, I'll work on it - right here. Whether I can prove it in court or not, it will provide me the inspiration to make more plans! Past comments: My thoughts on who modernists are Posted by Rous at 03-29-2004 11:02 AM All of this is just IMHO. I am not trying to speak for everyone. (Re)Modernists are a pretty diverse group. I am sure there are those that like Dwell just because they think the houses are cool. Still, I think most of us would agree with Socrates that "an unexamined life is not worth living." That is, we want to live meaningful lives that are under our control. We don't trust sound bites, 15 second ads, politicians, or corporations much. We don't things should be done a certain way just because "that's the way they have always been done." Now maybe it is a bit of a jump, but I think consistent with the thoughtfulness I have just described, is a disdain for things that are phony. Modernists have an affinity for things that are "true" and authentic and honest. Here is where our love of modern design comes into play. IMHO, one of the tenets of modernism is a simple, honest use of materials. As for floor plans, I am not sure the open plan is necessary for a house to be modern. However, wanting a house that fits the way we live and not designed to impress the neighbors is a modern concept. Now that the kitchen isn't a place for Mom to make dinner, but a place for family and friends to gather, the kitchen should accommodate that. Life is less formal so the formal living room is unnecessary, but unless you have a basement, the kids are going to need their own living room for their computer, video games, and to get away from Mom and Dad. As for the formal dining room, the space is better used for a home office. But that means the only dining area should be a bit bigger and nicer than just sticking a table in the middle of the kitchen. We also realize our lives are going to change. So the more flexibility is built into the design, the better. Posted by lavardera at 03-30-2004 09:18 AM Rous said: ...a disdain for things that are phony. Modernists have an affinity for things that are "true" and authentic and honest. I agree with this sense that it represents a value of living with truth - as I like to call it "in the here and now", acknowledging the situation you are in. I always want to resist saying that it is a moral issue, but it certainly sounds like it. Well what does that mean anyway: here is the first definition that comes up: moral \Mor"al\, a. [F., fr. It. moralis, fr. mos, moris, manner, custom, habit, way of life, conduct.] 1. Relating to duty or obligation; pertaining to those intentions and actions of which right and wrong, virtue and vice, are predicated, or to the rules by which such intentions and actions ought to be directed; relating to the practice, manners, or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, as respects right and wrong, so far as they are properly subject to rules. It sounds more about rules than values. But that does not make sense. If you look at the houses built today you would guess that the rules say that houses must be something that they are not, and people must pursue the latest in technology in their cars and cell phones, but not in the way their houses look. Well, in fact the rules do say that in many instances but that is another argument about deed restrictions. I would like to think that the rules being considered are more of a cultural understanding rather than the ordinances we put ourselves under. To me it unearths another great contradiction. Just as we build phony old houses and drive modern new cars we make rules that require us to lie?

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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Steel Case House mods - 3d work starts

The modifications to the 3d model used to create rendered views has begun. I think you can get a good sense here of the character of the deep rib siding, and the large scale of it in relationship to the wall. Its the scale of the siding that allows it to be a substitute for the solidness of the masonry wall in the original design. For comparison.

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Monday, April 05, 2004

Steel Case House mods - another detail

Looking at another typical detail. This time a portion of the wall section, showing the transformation from wood products to steel products.

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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Steel Case House mods - a detail study

A close look at the nature of the design modifications for this variation on the Steel Case House. This is a comparison of details from the original 0357 Steel Case House, and the new Metal version. The detail on the left from the original shows conventional wood stud framing mounted over the structural steel frame. This is part of the logic of the house - once the steel frame is erected by the steel subcontractor the rest of the house can be finished with ordinary carpentry. On the right in the new version we are dispensing with all things wood. Light gauge steel studs go directly over the structural steel frame, there is no plywood - corrugated metal siding is attached directly to the studs, and the strength of the siding takes the place of the plywood

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Friday, April 02, 2004

Steel Case House mods on the boards

I am currently working on several variations on the Steel Case House. Mods to the 0357 Steel Case House is the focus of our current efforts. Why would that be? This design is supposed to be complete? Well we are creating several variations on the house, not changing the design of the plan, but creating variations on the construction materials and methods. In the works right now is an all Metal version of the house. All wood products contained in the original design are being substitured with standarized metal products. Metal siding from industrial applications in place of lap siding panels, metal deck with a concrete slab in place of the wood planks, and a highly insulated framed wall with deep rib metal siding will be replacing the concrete block wall which is prominant in the original design. Here is a small snip from the construction prints which will give you an idea of how these changes will appear. more info on this, and the other mods, yes there is more than one, will come as the renderings are prepared.

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Thursday, April 01, 2004

introducing the lamidesign blog

The lamidesign stock plan development blog moves from the livemodern forum to a dedicated Blog! This new blog will replace the development thread I have been using in the forum. The function will be essentially the same, but in a new location.

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