Wanted: Vintage 1960 Modern Architect
July 27, 2008 11:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in hiring an architect in Houston to design and build a modest, mid-century modern style house.

Looking for an existing house I like hasn't been going well and I'm seriously thinking that what I'd really like to do is find an empty plot of land and hire an architect to design a house and help me find a contractor to build it.

I've got a general concept in mind, something along the lines of a modest mid-century modern house built with being ecologically green in mind. Stylistically, imagine a house a stylish young executive or young family might have built circa 1960 or so and you're pretty much there. Neutra, Eichler, and so on.

My pet theory is that simplicity and interesting use of basic materials will help offset the cost of custom home. I can live without giant bathrooms, stone countertops, fake window shutters, and overwrought exterior trim.

I can look the AIA site and find hundreds of architects, but how do I go about finding somebody willing to slip into a Mad Men grey flannel suit, smoke his pipe thoughtfully, and pretend that it's 1960?
posted by LastOfHisKind to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
Browse, browse, browse. There are plenty of people out there trying to do modern updates of mid-century styles - Dwell is a relatively good place to start. No-one will be able to simply Xerox a Case Study House though, because the codes will have changed; that kind of architecture is beautiful, yes, but also woefully difficult to heat/cool without using up lots and lots of energy.

In terms of evoking the spirit of the 50s and 60s, probably the closest you'll get today is the modern prefab movement. A lot of this is rather pie-in-the-sky, but there are some firms doing interesting work (e.g. Resolution: 4 Architecture, Office of Mobile Design, etc). In fact, there's a MoMA show on right now, Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling, that will surely push the technology forward a bit.
posted by jonathanbell at 4:25 PM on July 27, 2008

I bet there are loads of Rice University architecture graduates and faculty who would be right on board with a project like this. The program office can probably give you a referral to some locals who do residential work. If you want a few names to start with, MeMail me, and I'll ask my sister (a Rice architecture alum, but no longer based in Houston).
posted by libraryhead at 5:02 PM on July 27, 2008

You might want to check out factory built (sometimes aka modular) homes. Since they have to adhere to certain dimensions in order to be trucked down the road, they're fairly standard in size, and generally have a fairly standardized, simple design.

Because they're constructed in a factory they can be built to tighter tolerances, which helps with the green aspects. And you can spend some of your cost savings on really green tech like solar panels.
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:06 AM on July 28, 2008

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