Vernacular Mannerism


While on assignment in Worcester yesterday, we came across this compelling syntactical moment.  We were not sure why it was worth propping up a small chunk of attic space (vital luggage storage?) – and from a functional standpoint, the roof overhang seems redundant with the much smaller canopy over the door. Still, we appreciated the larger composition: a subtractive void balancing the additive turret on the opposite corner of the building. The design is further charged by the no nonsense and seemly-undersized bracket and the way that the supported mass juts past the plane of the side of the building.


Colorful Windows at Night


We have noticed a trend in rendering techniques – the use of random color tints on the windows of residential projects to convey “liveliness”.  It’s a strategy that takes the popular random window pattern, a sure signifier of “lifestyle residential”, one step further. This proposed project by Studio Gang, City Hyde Park proposed for the South Side of Chicago, is a great example; although here, the tinting seems to result from color on the deep flat window frames.


Great Rooms


Golden Step Dining Room, Beauport, Gloucester MA

While these photos don’t do the space justice, the Golden Step Dining Room, just one amazing room in an eclectic early 20th century house designed/curated by Henry Davis Sleeper, IS one of the great rooms of all time. Please note that the large windows slide down into the wall – just like Mies van der Rohe’s windows at the Tugendhat House in Brno, the Czech Republic.  Also notable is the table closest to the window; it has chairs on only one side, and unlike the central more formal table, the seaside table has self-consciously mismatched chairs that are unified with a coat of mint green paint.

I have become obsessed with great rooms like the spaces at Beauport because I am teaching a section of the graduate research studio this fall focused on “Great Rooms” – interior civic and/or social spaces – their spatial logic, functional performance, and “décor.”  In addition to the Golden Step Dining Room, examples include Fanueil Hall, the top floor of the Atheneum, and the Oak Bar at the Copley Plaza Hotel. As you can see, the idea of an interior social space is very elastic –one of the goals of the studio is to define categories of “being in public while indoors.”   

Let me know if you other examples in the Boston area that we should analyze. Some more contemporary examples would be most welcome.

I am particularly interested in deconstructing the program of the multi-purpose function room; which has become, in our culture, a bland beige space with no windows, easy to mobilize round tables, and awkwardly padded chairs. Between the great room research, and an analysis of the given, maybe new models can be proposed.