The Nationwide McModern Invasion Has Begun, and the Upper Kirby and Greenway Plaza Area Is Its Ground Zero

THE NATIONWIDE MCMODERN INVASION HAS BEGUN, AND THE UPPER KIRBY AND GREENWAY PLAZA AREA IS ITS GROUND ZERO “The typical McMansion follows a formula: It’s large, cheaply constructed, and architecturally sloppy,” writes Kate Wagner on Curbed. “Until around 2007, McMansions mostly borrowed the forms of traditional architecture, producing vinyl Georgian estates and foam Mediterranean villas.” But Wagner, who regularly dissects and ridicules the housing type on her McMansion Hell Tumblr page, notes that McMansion purveyors of late have increasingly begun borrowing, distorting, misunderstanding, and enlarging aspects of a newer type of home. “We are witnessing the birth and the proliferation of modernist McMansions: McModerns,” she writes. Where can we find these sleek new specimens? “In cities, McModerns are frequently constructed in rapidly gentrifying areas, such as the Greenway/Upper Kirby neighborhood in Houston, where $1 million, five-to-10-bedroom, builder-designed McModerns have been increasingly sprinkled among houses selling for $200,000 to $700,000: an earmark of speculation based on the increasing land values brought by rabid development.” [Curbed] Photo of 3003 Ferndale St.: HAR

18 Comment

  • Where in this neighborhood do you find $200K – $700K homes that aren’t townhomes? Where do you find $1 million dollar McModern’s? Kate Wagner does a great job criticizing and very poor job of actually knowing the facts and like most stuff you read on the internet I would definitely not use it to make actual decisions. The loudest voices on the internet are from the least qualified. Yet, I do find myself thinking this house has a miniaturized Cali-modern feel which would sell in a heartbeat if it wasn’t on the corner of Alabama a major thoroughfare with tons of traffic and noise! Not my style of home but to each its own…

  • “McModern”…great. All this cutesy criticism of the homes people are buying gets a bit old after a while.

  • Yeah but – like any style fad – they’re still new enough and unique enough to feel refreshing, for now. I’m just glad we’re getting over the beigification era. Whatever comes next is a welcome change, no matter how much fun we will make of it 10 years from now.

  • I always find it amusing when bloggers from other cities try to speak knowledgeably on areas they have never visited. Clicking a few buttons on Zillow does not make one an expert on an area. As previously mentioned, where are these $200K homes in that area? I’ll take 10!

  • The nationwide tired cliche user number is soaring

  • Her pricing data is off and the location is not spot on, but she does nail the big picture.

    Moderns are popping up like mushrooms after a downpour in inner loop neighborhoods. All they offer architecturally is the opportunity to be know by your neighbors as “that guy with the modern house”. The minimalist aesthetic of the original modernists like van der Rohe and Johnson are ruined by the need to maximize square footage. Anything that is too visually striking will risk mass marketability. So, designs all borrow from the same template of modernist elements but do not dare to stray into originality.

  • I live near the border of “greater Upper Kirby” and “greater Montrose”, and I can assure you that there are zero properties selling for less than about $450K anywhere within a mile of the intersection of S. Shepherd and W. Alabama. The dirt for a teardown for a 6250 sf lot is about a half million, give or take $50K.
    As for the million-dollar McModerns, I see plenty of those in my ZipRealty feed and walking around the neighborhood. For example:
    * 1911 Ridgewood, $1.5 million
    * 2227 Colquitt, $2.2 million oops, my bad; that’s a McMediterranean
    * 1614 Driscoll, $1.8 million
    * 2504 Hopkins, $1.1 million McModern townhouse
    * 1119 Welch, $1.2 million I’m not sure what this is; it’s tagged with “traditional, Mediterranean” but the description includes “Craftsman” and it’s got stucco and lick-n-stick-brick!
    Anyway, those are just a few examples. There are more out there.

  • I like them, what I don’t understand is why they take so long to build, I can list several between the Heights and Greenway Plaza that have been under construction for over two years now.

  • This story makes me want to get into the flat roof house repair business.

  • I like them and can definitely understand the appeal. Clean lines, large windows and smooth surfaces reflecting lots of light.
    There’s lots of older and more original modern design statements in the Rice U. area, but they’re certainly not cheap enough to become a design cliche.
    Considering the cost of inner city land I’d still prefer to have just a giant 3 story box with a large roof deck or an atrium for green space where desired though. For something to proliferate widely it has to be economical and I think these definitely hit all the right marks for the market…of you know upper 3% of income earners.

  • I’ve got no problem with the style…it’ll be remembered decades from now for this period so that’s cool…the strange thing is they’re so big for just a few people, maybe just a couple with a cat….and no yard…are these for materialists who only want nature if it’s small and easily controlled but love the feeling of a big, empty building that dominates the lot. and they probably work in high rises.

  • how many of them are built to last though? how many of them will stick around long enough to be singled out as “historic?” i’d argue that very, very few. In fact, i’d be shocked if the majority make it past 30 years.

  • In the fall of 2015, I attended Philadelphia University as a Graduate student in their Industrial Design department. On an occasion l hung out with some of the Architecture kids. One of their assignments was to do a project that was based in Modernism. It was called their Mondrian project. A certain number of their scale models were based on modernism I noticed. I believe that this McModern trend we are seeing is fed directly by architecture professors. Does anyone agree?

  • Nailed it! McModerns, oh how I hate them. Too many infecting Montrose already. Cheap looking and always oversized. Argh.

  • I think it was this site which had commenters disparaging the blinds on the outside of office buildings – the ones that look like vents. I think that look would be good for some of these modernist homes. Intellectually honest architecture frankly would be a “corporate” style – maybe if some of the office building construction firms wanted to make a quick buck they could develop a subdivision or two one of these days. Make it full of LEED Platinum homes surrounding detention-pond lakes, and it could be a hit!

  • I wouldn’t mind them so much if they didn’t look exactly like the houses my 12 year old designs in Minecraft.

  • To all the people complaining – at least they aren’t 100% hardie planked KraftsMcMansions. Plenty of that going on in my hood.

  • Most of these tacky buildings have no design appeal whatsoever. They look like bomb shelters.