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peaceloveunderstanding

McMansions - Define Them.

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The reason that McMansions are lauded is because they're usually built in cookie-cutter, treeless developments where they have no relation to place or each other. It's an idealized view of what a "fancy house" should be like.

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The reason that McMansions are lauded is because they're usually built in cookie-cutter, treeless developments where they have no relation to place or each other.  It's an idealized view of what a "fancy house" should be like.

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Bingo! Where did we get the idea that 14 gables on a house somehow makes it "ritzy"?

We have them because the American consumer cares so little about design. It's the perfect example of bigger is better. I have a friend who is a real estate agent and from what he tells me, all folks care about is square footage.

Moon, no, not everyone loves the Bungalow. But the Bungalow says to the passer-by "I'm not trying to be something else". They're unpretentious and simple (untill someone comes along and blows the roof, adds another 1,000 square feet and turns it into a McBungalow). The scale of a bungalow is human.

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I don't think you can come up with a single all ecompassing definition for McMansions. They differ from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood in size, design and purpose. The only two things in my mind that makes a house a McMansion is that they are way too big for the area and usually mass produced and therefore cheap.

In some Miami suburbs they're building giant 2 and 3 story stucco boxes on almost zero lot lines. They look like they were designed by 5th graders. Add to the fact that there's 3 or 4 models per subdivision and you begin to see why the Macdonalds comparison comes into play.

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It's an abomination that suburbanites sell themselves for. It's something that children grow up thinking they want because they're told that they want it, when they get older they do whatever they can to have a big house, big yard, big SUV and big debts at the sacrifice of any kind of culture or enjoyment of life beyond the narrow-minded ideals of material worship. Seeing how most people can't really afford a nice, big house, they settle for just big (the same way a Big Mac value meal isn't really good, just filling). If you look at a house and you see excess for it's own sake and you have trouble keeping your last meal down while imagining what sort of hollow, commercialized, inhuman, exsistance must be responsible for worshiping a multi-story tumor, that's a McMansion. It's the physical embodiment of a void in somebody's life that they don't know how to fill.

Related topics: High divorce rates, chronic obesity, resource shortages.

They're not the problem, they're a symptom of much larger problems.

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Chronic Obesity!?!?! What the hell are you talking about, most people in these houses care about image and being obese is not a way to improve your image.

If we are complaining about resource shortages we should cut off trade with China, they are using all our resources right now.

Divorce rates in the inner city would be high if they actaully got married.

I don't wish to defend the McMansions but I don't really think they are too bad, I would rather see them in the suburbs then a big ol' trailer park or rows and rows of little siding houses under 100k.

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If you look at a house and you see excess for it's own sake...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That architecture dictionary site had the perfect definition, although the above works too...

A McMansion is essentially a "mainstream" home that excessively takes almost every architecture cue know to man that has come to represent "luxury," from almost every era of architecture, and crams them all without context or relation into the same home. Its takes cues once meant to imply exclusivity and makes them ubiquitous, thus stripping them of their meaning and, to those who know architecture, looking something like a hideous caricature...

The automotive equivalent might be if a carmaker took the headlights of a Jaguar, the C-pillar of a BMW, the grille and wheels of a Mercedes, the tufted seats of a Cadillac, the ride and handling of a Volvo, and the taillights of an Audi and crammed all those defining, exclusive cues into the same car and sold it for 1/3 rd the price...

What I've described above is essentially how Lexus started, which is why it rapidly became the perfect McLuxury car for the McMansion owner. It's why car makers like BMW are trying so hard to change their look and design... Because car makers from Hyundai, to Infiniti, to Lexus have lifted their historic defining traits.

The McMansion, just like the Lexus, isn't about true heritage, authentic design, or exclusive engineering. It's about being surrounded by as many cues as possible that scream, "You're successful! You've made it! You've got a lot of money! You're better than the people around you." It's a powerful, primal, Type-A impulse... It's designed to appeal to a deep, animalistic aspect of man that says you're the head of your pack. Like so much marketing in our society, it has the appeal of an addictive substance since it's designed to directly tap these primal impulses...

I'm convinced that part of the movement of people back to cities, restoring old mills and old homes, and renovating historic structures is a yearning for "authenticity" in an era of fake, mish-moshed, mixed message McMansions...

Thoughts?

- Garris

Providence, RI

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Amazing. I'd have to agree with glassandsteel on many levels. Houses are overpriced, they're generally in the middle of nowhere if you want anything of a decent size, and incredibly unoriginal.

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It's those stupid cookie-cutter houses that you find in your run-of-the mill suburb and exurb subdivisions that sooner or later drive you crazy at their apparent lack of originality, Atlanta has plenty of them...like the one I live in.

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My town has alot of these nowadays. They just bring in the rich snooty people and raise property taxes, they are so uselessly big it pisses you off....maybe ill take some pics tomarrow to show everyone the fun!

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Miesen, you probably really hate this http://www.longview.cc/

:P

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i've been inside Longview actually... but what I found funny was their map on their website. Look at how exaggarated Uptown is..... it is SO not 18 miles away... more like 9

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it seems like the dislike for these "McMansions" comes merely from the fact that they are replicated and mass produced. Assuming we are talking about the homes that are a notch (or two) above the standard level suburban home, I would disagree with the assertion that they lack design aesthetic. Most of these plans are designed by reputable architects...likely the same archictects (in a given area) that design a lot of the custom homes. Developers purchase these plans, make some changes and mass produce them for communities.

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I guess I'm going to take a different perspective then a lot of you here. I'm not particularly happy with the sprawl consisting of these McMansions, but really these houses aren't so bad. Let's go back to the 50's, 60's, 70's, and even 80's when the typical house style was the 1 story ranch, which proliferated more than the larger homes we see today. Honest to God, the ranch home is about the most watered down, bland type of architecture you can get. I'm looking at the photos on the first page and you can not tell me that 1960s house on the right looks better than that brand new house behind it. I think the house behind it almost looks like it has history, even if all the materials were bought at a home depot. I don't think you people see that housing has been mass produced since the early 1900's. I go look at the old neighborhoods of Detroit and Chicago where there are two story box homes packed together, all looking practically identical. Today we like them because they have history and character, but really we only like them because they look old, and urban. I know these McMasions are trying to look authentic, but it's hard when they are located in a development out in some cornfield. But standing alone, these houese aren't all that bad. They are brick and stone, use expensive materials, and seem to possess alot of quality. If we are looking at oversized boring boxes of aluminum siding, that are distinctly on the suburban side, I'll take a negative stance. But we have to get it out of our heads that mass producing homes to a generic model isn't something new.

Just so I'm not biased, I don't live in homes like these and I spent most of my younger years in an urban enviroment in a old house

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it seems like the dislike for these "McMansions" comes merely from the fact that they are replicated and mass produced.  Assuming we are talking about the homes that are a notch (or two) above the standard level suburban home, I would disagree with the assertion that they lack design aesthetic.  Most of these plans are designed by reputable architects...likely the same archictects (in a given area) that design a lot of the custom homes.  Developers purchase these plans, make some changes and mass produce them for communities.

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My own personal dislike has nothing to do with the fact they are mass produced... Much of what I own is mass produced, and I like it all just fine... Just because they are designed by "reputable" architects doesn't make them appealing either. Some true compositional geniuses during the 20th century wrote some pretty terrible music, but that didn't negate their talent, and visa versa.

See my other response below...

- Garris

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... these houses aren't so bad.  Let's go back to the 50's, 60's, 70's, and even 80's when the typical house style was the 1 story ranch, which proliferated more than the larger homes we see today.  Honest to God, the ranch home is about the most watered down, bland type of architecture you can get... Today we like them because they have history and character, but really we only like them because they look old, and urban.  I know these McMasions are trying to look authentic, but it's hard when they are located in a development out in some cornfield.  But standing alone, these houese aren't all that bad.  They are brick and stone, use expensive materials, and seem to possess alot of quality. 

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You've got a few contradictions there...

I grew up in a raised ranch, and I *hate* the ranch style. My parents regretted it, but it was the only style they (and many others of the baby boom generation) could afford to build at the time. Is the McMansion the only style their owners could afford to build?

What I and many others dislike about McMansions is the following:

1) Taste: Yes, while subjective, they appear in poor taste to me. They're gaudy. How many classical architectural styles can you crib and jam intp the same house? How many gables should a roof have before it starts to look somewhat comical? There's zero purity or clarity to the designs at all.

2) Materials: While some might appear to use quality materials (I say that because I know a lot of people living in such homes who are having real severe quality problems becoming apparent 5-15 years out of construction), how many such materials does one home need to have? Is stone, brick, shingling, siding, stucco, metal, and tile needed on one building alone? Quality, or the appearance of it, isn't a substitute for good taste and restraint.

3) Scale: I tend to agree that the McMansion is actually the least offensive in the middle of cornfields, actually... They're criminal when they're placed in urban environments, places of character, filling up every square inch of lot and being bigger and taller than 99% of the other structures in an area. How stupid does a McMansion look, in an otherwise unremarkable urban neighborhood of ranches or bungalows with tidy front laws and driveways, when the McMansion fills the entire property with a ribbon of law, zero driveway for the 3 car garage, and is lit like the Starship Enterprise at night?

Again, you may even get me to agree that they look better than ranches, but they're the same problem in reverse. Rather than being unappealingly bland, a character of their time, the McMansion is nauseatingly materialistic and gaudy, another character of its time.

- Garris

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