Comment of the Day: We Kill the Mods, We Kill the Mods, We Kill We Kill We Kill the Mods

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WE KILL THE MODS, WE KILL THE MODS, WE KILL WE KILL WE KILL THE MODS “What’s the hottest trend to come? What will every city in the US and entire world be embracing? What will become showplaces and showcases? What’s the hottest trend in architecture? Why Mid-Century Modern! What is Houston tripping all over itself to tear down every last trace of? You got it.” [Darogr, commenting on Delmar-lition: HISD To Slam Old Swooping Hoops Stadium] Illustration: Lulu

13 Comment

  • I would counter with the evidence that Houston, unlike other cities, is very conservative in the trends of personal home architecture. We are still extremely biased toward Mediterranean and Traditional architecture. Once you get into a price range where architecture matters, it’s very hard to sell Contemporary, or Midcentury Modern, or Cabin, or anything out of the normal.

  • That’s debatable. Certainly there has come to the fore a new found appreciation for Mid Century Modern, but still most people hate it. I agree it’s to be lamented that they’re tearing them ALL down, but for the most part in fine with it. I’ve seen so many horrid mid century structures that I’d like to rip down, the cheapness in which many were built is revolting. Some mid century I appreciate, like the old Exxon Bldg or Mies work at the MFAH, or the Menil House in River Oaks, but so much of it is awful, in the end I’m fine with them tearing down the vast majority of it.

  • I would say that Houstonians are conservative about home architecture because that is 98% of what builders produce. We seem to have a plethora of glorified contractors who have no vision or sense of design aesthetic. It seems unusual that given that so many of our citizens who are not native Houstonians, or Texans for that matter, would gravitate towards our lack of adventure in architecture. I hate to point to Dallas but being that it is the most comparable in size, it seems there are a number of commercial apartment developers, home builders and mass production home builders who offer some modern, more urban styles as well as traditional. The two cities are not that far off in tastes–it’s who is building that is dictating from their own aesthetic.

  • Unfortunately, there is a bit of a disconnect between MCM architecture and MCM interior design. The latter is beyond hot. People are paying a huge premium to buy vintage MCM furniture. And lots of designers are aping MCM styles for furniture and décor. But the architecture has not caught on in the same way. There are no signs of MCM influences in most new construction design trends. And while spacious for their time, MCM homes tend to be on the small side compared to the current trend of anything less than 3000 sq feet is considered a garden shed.

  • I hated the first Mid Century Modern I ever saw, 50 years ago, when they were just called Modern. I still hate almost all of them. They are totally charmless.

  • i’d imagine that lot sizes and income ranges are what drive architectural diversity more than anything else within cities. being that Houston still offers up generous lot sizes and incomes that are predominantly on the lower end of the bell curve than most others I don’t think there’s any reason to expect our fair city to really ever be an architectural hotspot or start drviing more trends. i don’t see much reason for MCM to ever be a big trend again though, the modern lifestyle and home requirements have already changes so much since those times

    iunterior design is a whole other issue though. anyone familiar with har listings for multi-million dollar properties knows there’s no good excuse for this one, it’s just bad southern taste.

  • And unfortunately, a great portion of the midcentury modern homes Houston has remaining are in very undesirable neighborhoods.

  • MCM is vastly overrated as a style. Some decent examples in CA, but priced out of reach. Most of the instances in Houston are not worth saving.

  • I disagree that MCM is overrated, but I agree that much of what is present in Houston is lukewarm. What we have is a lot of ranch houses with clerestory windows and wide eaves. The really impressive stuff was built elsewhere in the country.

  • I think modern architecture is making some small inroads in Houston, but mostly in the upper price ranges where owners use architects rather than choosing a builder’s cookie cutter designs. I am however surprised that we don’t use more aluminum frame work instead of wood. This is termite country and we are basically building houses out of their food.

  • my boots are filthy right now from the bullsh*t I’m in.

    Guy, this style of architecture appeals to me, it really does. The reason it exists, though, is with cost of debt so high, things like 8′ ceilings instead of pre-war 9′, moldings, and grade of wood used in the studs needed to cut down to make pricing work, while keeping the square footage for exploding baby boomer size families. Terrazzo was common because it was durable and cheaper than wood.

    This description, above, is not of timeless architecture. It was “get it up” and had a 50 year life, like the water oak trees in my area. Guess what — it’s now 50 years.

    Also, your assumption that “other cities embrace it” is just wrong. Other cities have to embrace it because messing with the city to do anything there is an awful process, and/or people don’t have the means to do it.

    Little secret – Miami RESIDENTS are generally not that well off, and don’t make the big bucks.

    In LA, good luck getting anything done in a calendar year.

    In Dallas, our sister city with a huge inventory of this kind of house — the trend is the same. Knock it down, build 2 story. The only saving grace there is generally the lot sizes during that period are noticeably bigger. There are tons and tons of 15-30,000 sf lots in north-central Dallas. You can go out and still have yard. Here, if you have a 8,500 square foot lot and a 2,000 square foot single story plot MCM house, there is no going out without compromising the yard.

    All of my clients that come to Houston love the inventory turnover of housing, and the constant churn of new. They live in old east coast cities, and are genuinely jealous of it, and our automobile mobility.

    There’s nothing fun about living in Chicago/Philly and going grocery shopping.

  • I like the look of MCM, but the prevalance of flat (or at least gently-sloping) roofs inevitably leads to leaks, then decay. I think that this one fatal design flaw has itself condemned 50% of MCM’s to demolition 50 years later.

  • The majority of the charm of MCM is tied to nostalgic remembrances of a time gone by…the architecture itself is impractical.