Saturday, August 18, 2012

Teardown 3 of 4, Can a 4-Square Go Anywhere?

It was a Morningside post-war minimal traditional, about 1,376 square feet, on 1/5 acre, built in 1947. Thrive Homes built a new 3,000 square foot "4-square" in it's place.

This defines post-war Morningside style. The house on the right was "done" with bump-outs and pop-tops about 1988.

The house on the left has been "done" too, I suspect a pop-top and big windows, probably very cool on the backside.

P1100996-2012-08-09-1140 Spring-Valley-Ln-Morningside-Teardown-complete
Here we go. It isn't exactly Morningside style, but it is a Virginia-Highland style, and certainly a familiar American style.

We wouldn't be surprised to see a house like this anywhere in the US, rural or urban.

My impression is that this house could have been here before there was a neighborhood. It's as if the neighborhood was built around it. A European style house can't quite do that however beautiful, however old.

P1100997-2012-08-09-1140 Spring-Valley-Ln-Morningside-Teardown-complete-West-elevation-full
It's a good bet for spec houses and for custom/semi custom house, a good bet for design/build firms.

You start with proven shapes and proportions, fit it to the lot, then tweak the size, materials, and detailing.

P1100999-2012-08-09-1140 Spring-Valley-Ln-Morningside-Teardown-complete-in-context
I particularly like how it sits on the lot. It's welcoming, you can get out of the rain, you don't have to hike up a hill. It's passes my grandma test: would you send granny to the mailbox?

Wherever you think about teardowns, this one is better than most.


  1. Terry...

    I like it and the way it complements the neighborhood.

    I'm distressed however that my cottage does not meet the grandma test. My detached garage is at the bottom of a hill and does not have a cover to the back door. It is flat in the front but you have to run to the front door when it's raining. Luckily I have never minded getting wet. Grannies could only check the mail on nice days at my house.

    Love your blog with its interesting architectural journeys.


  2. I really enjoy reading your posts and I think your observations are so insightful and informative. I like the way this house turned out and how it fits into its setting. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  3. With that great crepe myrtle defining the front of the lot, that simple strip of other material in the driveway (is that just stained concrete?) makes the drive seem much longer and thus the lot more spacious. Just looking at pictures of the cleared lot and mentally superimposing what is a fairly substantial home, I'm shocked at how appropriate and comfortable the finished product looks. Well done.

  4. I think your observations are spot-on, Mr. Kearns. It cannot have escaped your notice, however, that certain of your fellow architectural historians would consider this a "McMansion" (overused, hyperbolic pejorative term that it is). What do YOU consider a "McMansdion"? Would be very interested in your viewpoint.

    1. I expect we'll have teardowns forever in popular neighborhoods. I want them to be as good as they can be. I don't hate McMansions as much as I should. Great design, great designers make the difference. I don't blog the ones I hate. As far as the social/environmental/urbanist stuff goes - I'm not smart enough - I just hope neighborhoods and housing will not be worse and perhaps be better in the future. To paraphrase what several investors/builders/designers have told me: "If they don't like it, they should get in the game themselves."

  5. For amusement I ask myself: If Olmsted was alive today, would he design Druid Hills the same way?

  6. This was my friend and former co-worker's home. She passed away of cancer less than a year ago. Amazing how quickly this new home was constructed. I blinked and her modest home was gone, much like her.


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