Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carelessly Cloned!

Remember as kids how we always used to play "Follow The Leader?" You know, the game where everywhere the leader goes, and everything the leader says, we have to do the same... When the architectural history of Dallas is written it will one day show that in the late 1980's and early 1990's Robbie Fusch was the "Leader!"

Dallas was begging for an architectural genre. We had design (if you want to call it that!) which pulled influences from French, to English, to Italianate, to Mediterranean - all in the same house! This "Dallas Palace" architecture which many other parts of the country thought was so wonderful, was just awful. Along comes Fusch... As much an artist as an architect, Robbie began to study French design, drawing parts and pieces of it to share with anyone who was interested. He also travelled to France for inspiration - I know because I went with him a couple of times. We had a blast traveling the countryside looking and studying great architecture and buying architectural antiques!

Not content to just study, draw, and gain inspiration from French architecture, Robbie began designing fabulous French homes right here in Dallas. This is one of his earlier works which plays off an inspiration from the Loire Valley countryside in France.

This is a more classic french design that is beautifully proportioned, and well detailed, but dressed down a bit so as not to be "high french."

Let's play "Follow the Leader!"

As people began to swoon over Robbie's gorgeous french architecture, the inevitable crept in... 'How can we produce the same look for a lot less money?' All of a sudden everywhere you looked "french" started popping up. The herd mentality had begun! Architects and designers across the metroplex followed Robbie's lead and began designing french. Predictably, along with the reduction in cost of the materials used in these "clones," was the amount people were willing to pay for great architectural drawings. And the details suffered - horribly! Classic "french" became this:

Things began to go faster and faster and everyone wanted "French." Notice the turrets on this home in comparison with those that Fusch designed above in the second photo. Also, the timbering used with the brick is much more sparse in this design than what would normally be used.

Yes...I guess it's "French," but somehow the imitation just leaves something to be desired! What are those colonial columns doing with the french entry system?

You always "get what you pay for" and great architectural design is always worth the price! Imagine what the cost of these houses ended up being and then imagine what a great architect could have done with that same amount of money!

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