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spooky old house

This is why I couldn't be an architect...

... well at least it's why I wouldn't want to be one:

They're going to have tours of some architecturally significant houses in El Paso (close to my house) and this morning's parper has this quote

"We are really excited about the exhibit. Some of the homes are in better condition than others," Doyle said. "Some have been altered or remodeled or had additions that have changed the intention of the architects. But some of the homes are in excellent condition and will be featured in the home tour."

It just really bugs me when people act like the architect's "vision" is the end all be all in a building's existence. If you, as a common person, do something to change that then the house is not as pure, not as good, etc... I know they mean well and sure, some people do just slap shit up as a remodel and call it a day, but IMO a building should be judged on how it works at any give point in time as well as, perhaps, how it has served it's occupants in the past (i.e. has it done its job before and is it doing its job now).

I think that's one thing that architect snobs often ignore. Buildings get remodeled because something doesn't work quite right for someone. They need more space, they need to update amenities, it's inconvenient to function within it (i.e. the flow is wrong, or there end up being unused spaces) etc... Different people have different needs, and I've always enjoyed seeing how buildings evolve and change over time. That's one reason I really love the Winchester house. Sure, Ms. Winchester was a bit crazy there for a while, but it's still a fascinating example of a nearly organic growth process implemented in wood and plaster.

Whenever I walk into an old house, I love seeing how things have changed and how they've remained the same because a lot of time that tells you so much about the people who've lived there and the times it's experienced (e.g. 70s shag carpet and avocado green appliances ;). Even though I gripe about how horrible some of my house's "upgrades" have been, that's mostly a commentary on poor craftsmanship, not on the changes themselves (and even then I like seeing the house's evolution and pondering how I can make my mark on it now).

In that way, things like Wikis (e.g. Wikipedia) make me think about buildings. In general the extent to which your work withstands the test of time tells you about it's quality. Whether you built it from scratch or you made some additions to it 150 years later, the interesting thing is seeing what stayed and what goes (and of course sometimes good things get lost because people make bad decisions, but on the whole, good features stay, bad ones go.

Anyways, just a random bit of construction geek rambling.


I knew someone who took years to design and build their dream home. Once the process was over, and the family moved and settled. It still wasn't "right."

To get a true feel for a house, one must live in it first to make your "home." Once you've lived in the space, and settled, then you become aware of what things you could've done differently. Sometimes the things that look good on paper, do not laways work well in real life. Or as you stated, after time; things may need to be improved. Just my 2.
Yeah, I definitely agree about the house vs home thing.

I wouldn't have known what to do with my house if I could have remodelled it right after I bought it. I think I'll be a lot happier with the results now that I've been here a while and I know what works and what doesn't
have you visited the winchester house? i'd love to go. totally fascinating.
Yeah, I went there last year. It is very awesome, I have a bunch of photos sitting on my computer waiting a chance to make it onto Flickr, I should do that soon.

I really think it was worth going to and I suspect I'll find myself going out there again next time I visit the bay area. Even for folks that aren't big house geeks, I still think it's worth going to at least once, just for the history of the place.