Friday, August 31, 2007

Garage Mahal on Glenwood

This house has so many OTT qualities that it is nominated for the belated July and current August Over The Top Award.

There are many things that make this house special. I hesitate to nominate it since it is being built as a private home rather than a spec house. But as I walked the neighborhood, it was clear this one is Over The Top from so many perspectives, it could become the poster house for defining the problems of over-sized rebuilds in old neighborhoods. Let me count the ways.

1) Streetscape: The original house on this lot blended with its neighbors. When in doubt remember this handy formula:
Streetscape = S1 + S2 + S3, where S1 = Setback, S2 = Style, and S3 = Size

2) Impact on existing neighbors: this courtesy can be accomplished by careful design. Pay attention to height, setbacks, views, tree canopy, and possible runoff from large amounts of impervious surfaces. Your neighbors will love you for it.

3) Respect neighborhood quality of life: this ambiance is what attracted you here in the first place. Lifetimes were spent tending this ground for future generations' enjoyment.

Up close and personal ...

This property was purchased for $385,000 in June 2005. Two years in the making, and still going, this house may single-handedly change the character and tax values of this section of Glenwood Avenue and the settled community behind it. We can be all for rights, but one's rights should require balancing with the impact such freedom can have on the wider public and private realm. I am certain that is why they invented zoning regulations.


butcept said...

I have pass this house so many times and it really does stick out among the other homes on Glenwood. How sad. It breaks my heart and I just can't believe the City would let this happen. That view from the porch...well, what view?

N. said...

In my mind, this house is THE perennial candidate for OTT. My husband makes me cover my eyes when we drive by, because I end up screaming, "Who builds a freakin' turret?"

I love your point about the fact that the neighborhood's ambience was likely the fact that attracted the home builder in the first place - why destroy it?

Chad said...

Wonderful pick for the Over the Top Award.

I used to be angered by the inappropriateness of structures such as this, but now I am really feeling sorry for the owners. Yes, I know people work hard to build quality living conditions for themeselves. Yes, I know we all want to live in English or French or Italian castles some day. Yes, I know status symbols are so very important. I really don't know if the owners and builders of such dwellings think that the average person looks upon these structures with admiration and envy – they do not. Nobody is being fooled.

There is a place where people can do this and it is actually accepted by the neighborhood. It's called new urbanist communities and within it the style, massive size and cramped conditions can be achieved that are frowned upon elsewhere. If anyone really must build a ridiculous mansion for some reason, please just go do it where all the other silly mansions are. That way you can have a Neo-French/English/Italian structure of the builders' choosing 7 feet from the next one with a perpendicular garage so that more houses can be crammed into less space and nobody will hassle you.

If people do want to live in an established neighborhood, please just have a little more respect and finesse with the house you build. It should be so easy.