Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Landmark Modernist Ansley Teardown used Rotation, Superimposition and Poche

When completed about 1986, the Hulse residence wasn't like its neighbors. That made it a landmark.

Some modernists hated it, some traditionalists liked it.

"The Hulse house ... was designed in 1985 by Anthony Ames, Arch '68, for a young couple interested in a modern interpretation of residential living in Atlanta's Ansley Park. The modern house was built on the site of an older dwelling that was demolished." - Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine

In any case it had become a familiar sight and we thought it would last at least as long as a pro football stadium.

Demolition started in earnest on November 6. Most everyone has an opinion. Me too.

Fortunately we have Anthony Ames, the architect himself, on video. He spoke about the Hulse house and you can watch the video from September 24, 2008, Georgia Tech's Architecture Centennial Lecture Series. The Hulse House starts at 30:37 and runs until about 57:00.

From the lecture:

Palazzo Pandolfini (Raphael) was a source of inspiration.

"...pre-modern: ideal and regular, closed, often symmetrical...modern: endless and undefined or loosely defined"

"Consequently I designed a series of houses that allowed for the investigation of the coexhistance of modern and pre-modern space and the uses of rotation superimposition and poche."

"All the projects are the same only the site and the programs change."

Mr. Ames explains it all quite well with a sense of humor.

What is poche? Paraphrasing Mr. Ames: It's the screwy space you get when you superimpose rotated plans. It's good for service infratructure.  Turns out we have some poche in our house.

Sounds like poe-SHAY (Edgar Allan POE and SHEA Stadium).

Be on the lookout for the new house.

P.S. This may be the next Ansley Park teardown:

Its a 1909'er according to property records.


  1. As I understood it from school, poche is the act of shading in the solid portions of a plan (a verb) or the solid shaded portions of a plan (noun). So technically yes, the areas where screwy spaces on a plan meet would be graphically shaded, so to call them poche would be appropriate. I've heard of the term 'carve the poche' meaning to manipulate the solid portions of a plan ('find' a closet, craft a niche). I think we are talking about the same thing!

    1. Yeah, Doug, you'd need to watch video. His first slide illustrating poche was the Vatican. In the 'old' days the shading would have been structural masonry. Today we have steel and clever use of space.

  2. Please not the 1909 house. Ugh. Like putting up a beautiful new rite aid to be taken down in 25 years.

  3. I've admittedly never been to Atlanta but I find it the most wasteful, silly place just through what I've learned through you! Why would someone tear down a house such as this? It may not to be everyone's taste but is space at such a premium there that they couldn't find another house or building lot? I blogged about this recently too -this 'temporary' culture we are in whilst under the guise of being 'green'. The most wasteful processes are both tearing down an existing building AND building a new one on top of that (so much waste is generated no matter how careful you are). Maybe you could help me understand the basic premise here why there is so much tearing down in Atlanta. From what I've seen there are some really lovely houses / areas and I'm at a loss at so much waste.

    1. There are still plenty of great houses here. This setting is one of the very best in Atlanta. This is 1/4 mile from from the 90 year old Georgian they moved last week. Georgian's are still popular after 300 years. The timelessness of 80's moderns is still up for grabs.

    2. Teardowns are hardly limited to Atlanta. As more affluent people seek the benefits of short commutes and vibrant urban culture, gentrification and teardowns are spreading nationwide. Perhaps because you follow the excellent blog of Mr. Kearns you are finding out more about Atlanta's teardowns, but a little research will show they are common - some would say epidemic - in other cities. Those multi-million dollar lofts in Brooklyn were not built on vacant land but over low-rise tenements and two to three family rowhouses. Chicago is seeing them not only in the city - look at Ukrainian village - but in suburbs. LA has lots of them - Silver Lake a couple decades was the home of immigrants and the working class, not James Franco- and most of its architecture isn't even very old.

      I'm curious that someone in DC would single out Atlanta. The close-in suburbs of Washington are well-known as one of the areas where teardowns are most common. Perhaps Atlanta is, as you say, a wasteful and silly place, but if that's true, it isn't just Atlanta but the entire country.

    3. We love criticizing ourselves. Nothing unique about Atlanta on tear-downs, it's happening in desirable neighborhoods everywhere. One trifecta of Atlanta self criticism is suburbs-traffic-preservation, add "greedy developers/businesses" and it's the perfect storm and tiresome.

  4. I completely missed this event! I live nearby and tend to go for Sunday morning walks through Ansley Park. However, I've been traveling a lot with work lately and just saw the vacant lot this morning. I am shocked that someone would pay $3mil for an 80's modern icon (though controversial) just to tear it down. I realize the house replaced a teardown when it was built, but I doubt the house it replaced in the 80's was in good condition as Ansley Park was in transition at that time. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the new owners have decent taste and build something other than a blown-up version of a Pulte track home from the suburbs.

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  6. I too, have been away in Africa for a couple of years. Today I drove by & wondered if I had forgotten where the Hulse house was. Nope. Just goes to show that we should never take things for granted. The same people who ordered the demolition of this great house were probably the same people who wanted to demolish the Fox Theater.

    I'm not a great fan of Post-Modernism, but the Hulse House by Tony Ames was one of the few well-done, beautiful, examples of Post-Mod Architecture. That's why it is a crime to have torn this house down instead of one of the many other, other sleazy wannabe McMansions in the area. Hell, the genius developers who paid $3M for the priviledge of tearing down a true work of Architecture probably could've gotten one of those for a lot less money. Just goes to show how far creeps will go to get attention.

    The lack of a Soul is, unfortunately, a trademark of developers...perhaps it's a trademark of my city. I could expect such a thing happening in the 3rd World. Guess Atlanta isn't too far removed from it.


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