KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Feb 16 2012

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The big squeeze

A colleague of mine recently sent me this picture he snapped on a neighborhood street in suburban Chicago. It speaks volumes about the building practices of the past few decades, and I for one am hoping that this particular scenario is becoming a thing of the past.


It’s been more than 10 years since we all “got religion” reading Sarah Susanka’s book The Not So Big House and started seriously addressing the consequences of large, excessive building practices. With that, the over-extension of mortgage money created a virtual house of cards for not only the building industry but the nation’s economy as a whole. We are now at a crossroads in this country and hopefully seeing not only the “light of day” financially, but a virtual “light of day” that has taught us conservation and thoughtful sustainable building practices may actually get our economy back on its feet.

I think this picture is worth a thousand words, so I’m sparing you my usual diatribe about sustainability, and let you just view this sad little house that was once (and still is) a well designed family home. It’s my wish that homes like this will continue to be a symbol of the American dream.

Patricia Gaylor

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2012 at 12:00 PM and is filed under Green, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1.  RCJ |

    Great photo, great commentary
    We are about to start a major remodel of our house,( ca 1940’s 1100 square feet) and when we were interviewing architects it was amazing how many expressed zero interest in the project once we told them that we intended on staying within the existing envelope.

    I am curious as to how much the economics of architecture have been drastically altered by the real estate bubble, and what the path to a sustainable business model might look like.

  2.  patricia gaylor |

    Hello, thanks for your comments, and best of luck on your forthcoming project. There are so many adorable small houses in California, it’s great to hear your’e re-modelling one and keeping it the same size. Interesting about how many architects didn’t want to work on the project due to it’s size. I’m guessing they charge by the square foot! It’s so much more challenging and interesting to work on maximizing a small space. I hope you find a good architect who’s willing to get creative.
    As to your question about the ‘economics of architecture’ …yes of course, all of us in the home design and construction industry have taken a hit, but staying viable in a down turn market is possible if you keep your eyes and ears open, and listen to WHAT PEOPLE (like yourselves) WANT – The key word here is LISTEN.
    Best of luck to you !