Learning From Historic Architecture

Many historic architectural details -- shutters, for example -- work because they were honed by time and experience. Why do so many architects and developers ignore these simple and elegant architectural details?
September 26, 2005, 9am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"As we look at the vast rebuilding that must take place after Katrina ... we would be well advised to look at elements of historic architecture that harness nature rather than defy it. By and large, they work because they were honed by time, experience -- and tragedy.

...Some years ago I wrote about a distinctly modern house built not far from Charleston, South Carolina, to replace one swept away by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. The design, by Charleston architect Ray Huff, had tall ceilings and high windows but a contemporary informality. An elegant wood latticework protects those windows from storm-driven debris, while dappling a wraparound porch with shade...

By contrast, other rebuilt houses nearby looked traditional, but it was all show. The picturesque gables didn't ventilate. The houses had high-end kitchens and lifestyle bathrooms, but their designers deemed real shutters an extravagance. They teetered ridiculously on high stilts, like dowagers with hiked skirts, because their designers couldn't figure out how to gracefully get the houses above destructive storm-driven waves. "

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Published on Sunday, September 25, 2005 in Bloomberg News
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