Thursday, August 1, 2019

John Henry - Best Architect on ActiveRain

John Henry - Best Architect on ActiveRain: Recently, my post 'Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down,' was featured by ActiveRain. Last night, I received a comment from John Henry along with the soundtrack to Gl

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Charm and History of Mediterranean Style Houses, Presented by Orlando Winter Park Florida Architect John Henry




 

There is a quixotic appeal of the wonderful dwellings, villas, and palaces that originate in the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea by American homeowners, architects, and builders.  In most cases, the simplicity of form and geometric integrity, clean and bright harmony of color, and earthy materials seem irresistible -- to love and emulate.
While these houses originate in a warm dry climate, they are reconstructed in spirit from the sunny humid climates of Florida and Texas, to the drier states of Arizona, New Mexico, and California.  And they have been found in the rainiest and coldest of areas as well.
When one visits Turkey, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, France or Morocco, the impression of smaller houses built next to each other, whitewashed, with multicolored roofs, is simply charming to behold.  
But there are differences of course due to culture and building practice, availability of materials, etc.  which culminate in a regional or local style.  And historically, the further back one goes the more simple and primitive the forms.  In the southern and eastern Mediterranean, the roofs are often flat and act as rainwater catches for potable storage. Dwellings are smaller interlocking squares with no pitched roofs.  The absence of any color is due to the limewash that maintains cleanliness, is bug resistant, mold resistant, and reflects heat.
On the other side of the Sea, where a more (northern) European tradition of pitched roofs prevail, you have the same small houses, now with single pitch tiled roofs, or sometimes just sloping roofs.  Stone walls in many cases have not been plastered but those that are will also be painted.  Skipping forward to the Renaissance a new sensibility about design as a philosophical art developed among master masons.  They used the same materials to design structures that now were inspired by things they found in the ground: Greek and Roman temples.
These temples became iconic to Western Civilization.  The perfect symmetry was mimicked from small rural hamlets to the great churches of the southern European countries up to the northern bounds.  The 'Mediterranean' ideal changed bit from region to region depending on climate, materials, workmanship, and level of enlightenment.
Fast forward to the last 100 years in the United States and you will find that stucco, stone, and tile - with wood and iron details - were the basis for small entry level houses, custom homes, and large luxury estates which borrowed exacting details from Italian villas and manors.  But they were not all symmetrical.  In fact, due to the development of haciendas from Colonial Spanish settlement, these freewheeling asymmetrical working ranches and estates inspired a more relaxed and informal design genre that was picked up in the new California and transmogrified in other southern states especially.  
In Florida during the 1920s, Addison Mizner combined Iberian motifs successfully and used his own ingenuity to create magical estates in the Palm Beach area.  A little earlier in Newport, Rhode Island, the Vanderbilts asked Richard Morris Hunt to create a replica of an Italian Genovese palace.  Other formal Renaissance inspired estates were built on the East Coast and in other areas where Gilded Age millionaires could afford the size and extensive detailing in and out.  Often these were clad in limestone or even marble.
While all the Old World prototypes were built of stone walls clad with stucco and roofed with ceramic tile over wood timbers, here in the United States wood framing more often comprises the main structure with a cheaper stucco finish and often concrete tile roofs on wood trusses.  In some areas concrete block is used for the perimeter walls, which allows the best bonding for exterior plaster.
Interiors of U.S. custom houses are a smorgasbord ranging from ultra contemporary to select period details in fireplaces, moldings, and some stone flooring.  The 'contemporary Mediterranean' style allows a free hand in complex roofing and usually asymmetrical facades due to typically tight urban or suburban lot restrictions.  It is very difficult to create a fully symmetrical design with garages and the number of rooms limiting the plan on a smaller lot.
The Romans introduced the arch and this structural element, played against horizontal members, has been called the Palladian Arch.  The Greeks employed no arches in their temples.  Romans invented concrete as well and were able to build public buildings efficiently with thick brick walls filled with a concrete stubble.
Graceful full round arches are an Italian Renaissance motif and with arched windows below, create an iconic 'Mediterranean' style.  Use of columns, not as on a temple, but to frame windows and doors or used rhythmically at the front and rear porches, is the second important motif.  These can be simple or very detailed.  When they are decorative it is important to wrap similar complex details in the moldings around doors and windows, and as demarcations of floors upon floors on the facade, etc. 
Wood rafters and balconies are more a Spanish Colonial motif than an Italian one.  In buildings of stature, the entire facade and perimeter of the house were finished in either a stone veneer or lime stucco.  Wood rafters under the eaves are seen in all Northern Mediterranean houses and they are often exposed inside and carved in a decorative manner in higher standing villas and palaces.
The ceramic tile of southern European houses is an expensive roofing choice now, supplanted in many entry-level to medium quality homes with similar profiled concrete roofing tile.  The choice of color and mix allows the replication of a few hundred years ofreplacing hand worked and fired ceramic tile based on nearby silt deposits at the rivers' edge.  Roofs can be open gable or hipped.
Towers and other roof ornamentation is appropriated from larger period villas and palaces, some fortified elements as well.  A playful hand can create several different combinations of classical details and simple walls and fenestration (the order and placement of windows). 
All together the modern Mediterranean house offers a great palette of design elements, floor plans, interesting facades, and interiors.  Certain treatments and profiles are regionally recognized styles.  So that we now see smaller elemental designs in starter homes to an eclectic mix of towers, chimneys, porches, arches and columns, etc. for mid-level to upper echelon custom homes.  Sometimes the results can be quite exotic!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

According to the National Association of Realtors - "82 percent of homes purchased between July 2017 and June 2018 were single-family homes with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, sized at about 1,900 square feet, with a median sold price of $250,000".  This is the NAR's model house for 2019.   Interestingly the demographics area as follows: married buyers are at 63% of all owners, followed by white female singles.
++++++++++++++++++++
Architect John Henry just developed a new custom suburban house design situated on a corner lot in Central Florida.  Setbacks of 5 feet on the back and side, with 15 feet on the two street sides allowed just enough space for this transitional single-story design of 1,980 SF.  The lot size allowed a buildable footprint of 50 by 85 feet.
The homeowner requested a wrap-around porch for neighborhood views and a friendly image.  There are three bedrooms and two baths, a single Living and Dining area with large open Kitchen with bar seats.  Laundry and pantry are convenient to the Kitchen and just a few steps off the two car garage.
There is sufficient privacy between the Master Suite and the two bedrooms, sharing a bath. (All bedrooms indicate a queen size bed for scale)
The stunning eye-opener, when first entering under the arched porch, is the amazing amount of light and views under a soaring vaulted ceiling.  The wrap-around porch continues into a larger private rear porch ('lanai') that shelters a nice grass yard and Pool with Grill.  The Great Room, Kitchen, Dining, and Master Suite all have views into this private area.
A fireplace in the roomy Great Room is on axis with the Kitchen, a great visual anchor to the entire open space.  The ample covered porch modulates the direct sun and allows cool rocking chair respites on three sides.
At the last minute, the homeowner requested an additional bedroom and bath, which pushed the Master Suite to the rear of the setback (not shown).  An alternative would be to situate two bedrooms upstairs, allowing this design to be built on an even smaller lot.
The owner wished to include some slightly contemporary touches on the architectural treatment outside and although there are stone and stucco, the angled porch columns add that quixotic touch of 'transitional' design.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Fabled Payne Stewart Mansion by John Henry Architect.
Created over 20 years ago in a private setting on a pristine lake in Central Florida this is one of the best examples of a contemporary Period Style Mansion in the United States.  It is Italian Baroque on one elevation and pure Greek/Roman on the other.
This is a beautiful Villa resplendent with characteristic columns, arches, and moldings.  But each element has a custom design, and the use of classical proportion and detail make this truly unique and World Class in execution and effect.  The interiors were created to be part of the period style.  Natural stone was used for exterior and interior columns, balusters, and moldings.
The eye delights over the darks and lights, detail and shadow, wood, stone and stucco.
Please see the newly created video that includes for the first time: the interiors in still photography and the exterior/grounds in aerial photography.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Contemporary Modern Custom Home Plans for Luxury Houses

Custom Contemporary Modern Style house ideas, photos and drawings by Architect John Henry based in Orlando Florida.  Serving Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Naples, Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Winter Park, and Windermere.

Friday, May 18, 2018

TRADE OFFS: What is most important when buying your Dream Home? 
By John Henry Architect, www.dreamhomedesignusa.com

What are the most important features of an existing property for sale to you, the potential buyer?
If you have a young family or are single/living alone the answers would be different from a mature family, empty nesters, or retirees.

What is more important to you -- nearby amenities or special aspects about a house or property?  Cost for most buyers is a central issue.  The selling price of any house is based on location (quality of neighborhood, proximity to key amenities), age (implications for maintenance), and house/property features (size and style, quality of interior finishes, specific layout of plan, views, landscaping).

It is very difficult to satisfy everything on your wish list! You may like the location but not the house.  Or the house is great but too far out or too close to undesirable properties!
So what trade offs are you willing to make?

First, what is most dear to you: Time/convenience, Safety, or Comfort and Aesthetics?  Good schools in your area?  Ideally all three is what we want but not always possible.  Let’s look at time for a minute.  If you live in a suburb outside of town and commute in every day, a suburban location may not change the time to work but suppose you are selling a house in a potentially more valuable location close to multiple amenities: banks, schools, theaters, restaurants.  If you are used to driving or taking public transportation to your favorite Starbucks or restaurant in 10 minutes and now it may take 20 or 30 how are you going to feel about that?

Some of us with children are willing to make huge concessions to have them placed in highly regarded and safe schools, even willing to drive a long time each way to them to school and pick them up.  A young family is used to minimal comfort and convenience as living costs are high and just a break from apartment living or small rentals is sufficient.

Similarly an indigent person or one with medical conditions feels safer closer to a hospital or other medical facilities and can deal with any negatives about the house they are considering.

Those with the most options are recent empty nesters.  Schooling is done and perhaps they wish to downsize or move to a more advantageous part of town.  Or if work and social ties require upscale housing then a gated community or older established part of town may work best.  Perhaps building a house is also a consideration.  Merchant built subdivisions in suburban areas are one consideration or possibly remodeling an existing house closer in.  Perhaps some open tracts are available in a rural setting that fulfill most of the Owner’s interests.

Buying an existing house means you will be balancing positives and negatives per your current and possibly long term lifestyle if planning to live in the house indefinitely.  If you have to move quickly for financial or other reasons only a built house will work.  If you have time (and the temperament) and cannot find the perfect house you may elect to remodel or build anew.  You may wish to demolish your existing house and build much larger if your location is ideal and your house will not accommodate your anticipated use by just remodeling.

With so many options, check with a Realtor and consult with an Architect to see what is your best route moving forward!  You may want to create a chart and weigh each need/wish with a point system and go through several scenarios.  Home buying and building can tend towards emotional decision making.  Try to think it out clearly and then follow your heart.