Friday, April 8, 2011

Dallas Grows Up!

It was bound to happen. The explosion of growth and housing in Dallas following World War 2 bred a quantity over quality house design that was more functional than aesthetic. Dave Fox of Fox and Jacobs led the way in designing and building cracker boxes which met the GI Bill requirements for those returning from war. Many still stand today. But with an emphasis on churning housing units out, design suffered terribly!

The old, gracious cities of America like Atlanta, Philadelphia, Savannah etc. may have undergone similar boom time housing spurts, but those were years ago before housing design matured. For years now while Dallas has been growing up, Builders in those other areas have been building wonderful period authentic homes. We have begun to see that same process take shape in our own neighborhoods.

Through another growth spurt in the early 60's Dallas was tearing up cotton fields for as far as the eye could see, and building what has affectionately been referred to as the "Dallas Rambler." Horizontal in design on huge oversized lots the Rambler was known for it's linear, sprawling spaces, 8' ceilings and a large picture window in the center of the front elevation. Thousands of these style homes were built before land became somewhat of a premium. Dallas was running out of cotton fields that were close to the business centers!

When land prices skyrocketed in the 70's and 80's design went vertical. Dallas became known across the country for it's "Dallas Palaces" or "McMansions." Ostentatious doesn't really begin to describe the two story entry; the two story Living Room; Bar Room designed for twenty; or the Master Bath with closets that had more square footage than most homes! I have often characterized the design as being a juxtaposition of rooms that somehow relate to one another, with a roof slapped over the whole mess! The interior function of the rooms didn't relate to the exterior elevation at all.

Besides the inefficiency of both floorplan and energy, people slowly were coming to the place where they wanted something different. This desire was aided in some measure too by one's inability to distinguish their home from the other homes on the block!

Period architecture was beginning to come into it's own in the early 90's. Most of what was coming off architect's boards (with the exception of the mass production homes) was "tasty" in design and had historical significance which related to a bygone era. Dallas was maturing!

One of a whole host of fabulous architects that started designing period authentic homes is Wilson Fuqua. This project was designed in 1990. By looking at the front and back of this home you begin to get a feeling for the inter-realtionship of form and function in design where the rooms relate to the magnificent "skin" of the outside.

These highly aesthetic homes became the rage for architecture in Dallas! Timeless in styling, they seem to be everyone's favorite place to hang out. But detailing like you see above is expensive and out of reach of most homeowners. Stay tuned for future blogs in which we discuss the next (and horrible!) evolutionary design for Dallas architecture. Are we reverting back to the old "blow and go" development days? I pray not!

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