When houses go bad
Do you love to hate the over-the-top residential architecture of outer-ring suburbs? A new blog called McMansion Hell is worth a look. Kate Wagner, a master's student specializing in architectural acoustics at Johns Hopkins University and Peabody Institute in Baltimore has created a witty and informative site that uses the images from real estate websites to eviscerate the expensively awful designs of McMansions.
By marking up photos, Wagner explains the difference between Mansions and McMansions, and traces the history of the latter—showing how they emerged in the 1980s to violate every rule of massing, proportion, detail, and use of materials. Truckloads of money are wasted on extraordinary, unintentional bad taste, and to see documented proof of the folly of the top one or two percent is fun. Unlike the world of Downton Abbey, many of today's wealthy are apparently not spending their money on cultural or educational self-improvement, if these houses are any indication. McMansions seem to be mostly associated with drive-only places and flawed urban design—although a few may pop up like an invasive species in urban neighborhoods.