Posts tagged with "McMansion":

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Zillow drops legal crusade against McMansion Hell

This week the architecture internet was awash in articles about the temporary shutdown of McMansion Hell after the real estate site Zillow threatened legal action. Today, though, the company announced it has dropped its legal claims against the site's creator, provided she doesn't use any more photos from its site. For those who don't know, McMansion Hell is a popular blog that skewers amenities-laden mega-homes in suburban America. The site is run by Kate Wagner, a graduate student in acoustics at Johns Hopkins and a self-taught critic. Wagner's canny insights educate as well as entertain, and the blog has a devoted following in and outside the industry. In response to Zillow's threat of legal action, legions of fans took to Twitter (where else) to offer Wagner support and throw shade at Zillow. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that defends digital privacy and free speech, had a salty point-by-point takedown of the company's claims, calling many of them "highly dubious." Sometimes, when the internet speaks, companies listen. This afternoon The Architect's Newspaper received an emailed statement from Emily Heffter, a public relations manager at Zillow:
We have decided not to pursue any legal action against Kate Wagner and McMansion Hell. We’ve had a lot of conversations about this, including with attorneys from the EFF, whose advocacy and work we respect. EFF has stated that McMansion Hell won’t use photos from Zillow moving forward. It was never our intent for McMansion Hell to shut down, or for this to appear as an attack on Kate’s freedom of expression. We acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our partners – the agents and brokers who entrust us to display photos of their clients’ homes.
Now everyone can go back to laughing at hilariously bad homes, just in time for the long weekend.
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Report: McMansion rules in Los Angeles are largely ineffective

Despite reports of their demise, giant, neighborhood-busting McMansions in Los Angeles appear to be alive and well. Although they were passed six years ago, it looks like Los Angeles' Mansionization rules, according to the LA Times, "haven't stopped neighborhoods from being overwhelmed by out-of-scale homes." The rules contain lots of loopholes for builders, including provisions holding that they can increase new home sizes by up to 30 percent if they meet environmental and other requirements. Also home-expanding elements like covered parking areas can be largely excluded from city calculations. City councilman Paul Koretz recently proposed revising the rules to eliminate “counterproductive provisions," but local leaders say little has happened since. The exceptions, meanwhile, "effectively gutted the ordinance that was supposed to stop mansionization," former city planner Dick Platkin told the Times. Under a new plan presented this week, the city could impose temporary restrictions to limit tear downs in a few neighborhoods, but Deputy Director of Planning Alan Bell told the Times that it would take a year and a half to officially revamp the rules citywide.
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QUICK CLICKS> Model Cities, Food Deserts, McMansion Decline, Green Infill

  Toy Cities. Our friends at Planetizen tell us that Avondale, AZ had urban planner James Rojas over for a playdate of sorts. Citizens who took part in this re-visioning session got to use pipecleaners, Legos, blocks, and other assorted toys to build their ideal version of the city. According to Rojas, this bottom-up community planning method breaks down barriers and allows people to exercise a degree of creativity not often found at the typical charrette. Food Oases. Streetsblog questions the much hyped notion of the "food desert":  is it media myth or reality?  It seems that urban areas aren't always as lacking in food stores as they seem, at least depending on your definition of supermarket. Even the USDA, who recently debuted their new food desert locator, might be a bit confused about what constitutes a food desert. (In fact, the web application says that a part of Dedham, MA is a food desert. Maybe they don't count the Star Market that's right near that Census tract...) Suburban Swan Song. Slate's architecture columnist Witold Rybczynski has penned an obit of sorts to that symbol of suburban sprawl, the McMansion. He posits that when the recession is over people will be in the mood to buy homes again, but that they may be hesitant to purchase a behemoth of a building that costs a lot to heat and cool. Green Alert. Inhabitat takes a look at the latest in the green roof trend in the form of sloping roofs on townhomes in the City of Brotherly Love. It seems that the historic Center City has a new (and almost LEED certified) infill development called Bancroft Green. The high-end homes here sport some nifty plant covered roofs as well as geothermal heating and herb gardens that capture storm runoff and spaces designed specifically for bicycle storage.  
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A Look Back at Los Angeles Mega Mansions

In honor of the passage earlier this month of LA's Baseline Hillside Ordinance (Warning: PDF), which prevents "out-of-scale" single family development on LA's hillsides via height and FAR restrictions, we've dug up five of the most ridiculously gigantic homes in the city. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of square footage, bathrooms (why does the number of bathrooms always seem to double the number of bedrooms?) and opulent taste (note the preponderance of French Chateaus: will there be another revolution?) The ordinance, which goes into effect on May 9, is the third in a series of city measures to prevent McMansions and other neighborhood busters. So perhaps say goodbye to this type of development in LA. At least for now. The "Manor" 594 S. Mapleton Drive, Los Angeles 56,500 square foot, 14 bedrooms 27 bathrooms Style: French   76 Beverly Park Lane, Beverly Hills 29,069 square feet, 18 bedrooms, 28 bathrooms Style: Spanish   630 Nimes Rd., Los Angeles 38,000 square feet, 9 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms Style: French   "La Belle Vie" 332 St. Cloud Rd, Los Angeles 23,000+ square feet, 9 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms, 12 fireplaces, 10-car garage Style: Classical   10451 Revuelta Way, Los Angeles 15 bedrooms, 16.5 bathrooms, formal dining room seating more than 50 people. Style: Classical