Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Reading

It is Summer, so hopefully you have some time off where you can sit back and relax poolside or on the beach with a good book!

If you are into MCM design and love to read (like me!), then here is list of suggested reading. I have read all of these books and thoroughly enjoyed them all. And, if your time by the pool or on the beach is rained out, most of these books have been made into movies.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, by Sloan Wilson, 1955.
The book offers insight into the postwar American Dream and the burgeoning material culture of the 1950s. 

It was also made into a movie in 1956 starring Gregory Peck. The movie is just as good as the book.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, 1961.
Perhaps not the most positive view of the suburbs on the 1960s - but certainly captures the time period.

In 2008, it was made into a movie. While the movie does differ from the book, it is successful in capturing the essence of the time and the intention of the author.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, 1943.
She is one of my favorite authors. The book is a great read for architecture lovers, but is a bit heavy on the theories of objectivism.

In 1949 it was made into a movie. The acting is very melodramatic - but very much of its time. It was a challenge to get a hold of this movie, but I found it...and love it!

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, 1957.
Another great book by Ayn Rand. Her writing is the inspiration of my own 2 novels, both in the final editing stage, and hopefully published soon!

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, 1948 film.
I have only seen the movie, but there is a book that I will have to get my hands on. It is a comedy, that is still funny even today.

David Kushner, Levittown, Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America's Legendary Suburb.
A newer book that chronicles the real-life struggles of the first black family to move into Levittown, Pennsylvania in the 1950s. Although the book is based on historical facts, it is very readable.

Although he is not a mid-century author, I recommend anything by Douglas Coupland, on par with Ayn Rand as my favourite author. And he is Canadian!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Understated Luxury

Today, when one thinks of a luxury house, often an extremely large and imposing structure comes to mind. Usually this house is clad in expensive stone and designed to look castle-like. The opulence of the house is made very apparent from its exterior.

Rothwell Heights

Near Island Park

Faircrest Heights.
Notice the small bungalow next door.

Rockcliffe Park

In the mid-century, luxury homes were more subdued, and often just larger versions of the same tract houses found elsewhere in the city. Luxurious bungalows were often just larger and more sprawling than the typical suburban house. Side-splits looked near identical to smaller versions, only differing in size.

  Island Park Drive

Bel-Air Heights

Arlington Woods

Arlington Woods

Drive down any street in Faircrest Heights, and you will see excellent examples of the understated facades of MCM luxury houses.

This house was for sale earlier this year, and is actually quite large.

This large bungalow is currently for sale through my brokerage.

This very large house is for sale right now, and the price has 7 figures. It is a stunning sprawling bungalow, but its street presence is understated in comparison to the other houses shown at the beginning of this posting - especially the one in Faircrest Heights, just a few streets away.

A great area filled with understated MCM luxury houses is Rockcliffe Park.

This house built around 1950 is for sale. The asking price has 7 figures...and starts with a 2.

I quite like the western ranch-house facade of this house.

This luxurious house is really just a larger version of the side-split houses found throughout Ottawa.

This house is also for sale...the price has 7 figures.

A large house with a butterfly roof.

Custom designed houses were also more understated in their sense of luxury, in stark contrast to the flashy facades of newer custom homes.
Island Park




Rothwell Heights.
This house is stunning inside, and has an indoor pool.

Sadly, many of the MCM houses in Rothwell Heights are too unassuming for the newer wealthy residents, who tear them down to build imposing mansions.

Many MCM houses in Rothwell Heights are being sold for land value only...sometimes for over $1,000,000 - just for the land!!

And they are replaced with not so subtle luxury houses:

Monday, July 4, 2011

CMHC house designs from the mid-century

Between 1947 and 1974 the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), formerly Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, published regular floor plan books of small houses suitable to be built in Canada. Blueprints could be ordered for the architect-designed plans, and examples of the built houses can be found throughout Ottawa.

There are so many interesting plans that were available through the CMHC, so this is only the first posting with some of my favourites.

If you recognise any of these designs that have been built in Ottawa (or elsewhere in Canada), please feel free to share the location with me!

I have always been a fan of the butterfly roof!

Although there are no front facing windows on the above design, the cedar shake cladding makes for a very interesting facade. The architect was based out of Kanata, and I could easily see this house fitting into the natural landscape of Beaverbrook - although I don't think it was actually built there.

 The central atrium hints at the Eichler plans built in California during the 1950s and 1960s.

 A decidedly modern plan with a flat roof and carport.

I really like the simple, yet architectural composition of the facade.

 Another flat-roofed beauty with a peekaboo clerestory window.

 Can you tell that I like flat-roofed houses?

 I am also partial to houses with courtyards.

 A flat roof and a courtyard!

 For some reason, quite a few of these designs do not have many front windows, which makes them very private, but does not present the most welcoming facade to the street.

The final flat-roofed design in this posting.

 I like how the wall of the living room extends to make a private yard area off the dining room.

Interestingly, this Connelly Homes design built in Glen Cairn is nearly identical to the CMHC plan.