Designing the Good Home

Designs of Hugh Newell Jacobsen, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Obie G. Bowman By Dennis Wedlick

“Architect Dennis Wedlick is a man on a mission: to teach Americans that they don’t have to settle for cookie-cutter homes.”—House & Garden, December 2003

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, January 2004—According to architect Dennis Wedlick, “A good home is not just a neutral vessel blandly waiting for human activity to occur within its walls. A good home possesses character, or what might more precisely be called emotional resonance‹the capacity to inspire thoughts and feelings in its occupants.” This rumination is one of the reasons behind the creation of his newest book, Design the Good Home (HarperDesign; February 2003; Hardcover; $50.00). A continuation of the exploration begun in Wedlick’s first book, The Good Home (Harper Design; 2003), Design the Good Home is also concerned with redefining the word “modern” in the context of residential architecture.

Featuring three of the country’s most innovative architects, Design the Good Home is a guidepost for designers, builders, and prospective homeowners to create satisfying homes. These are homes that will evoke an emotional response and arouse feelings with modern techniques. Design the Good Home showcases designs from featured architects using gorgeous color photographs, detailed plans, and drawings to demonstrate what makes each of these houses quintessential examples of good homes.

The three architects examined in Design the Good Home- Hugh Jacobsen, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Obie Bowman – create work that is remarkably divergent, yet when Dennis Wedlick dissects their designs he shows they have very much in common. The elements that go into their designs are the essence of modern design. For instance, Jacobsen does not employ the warm palate of Bohlin’s work, nor is Bohlin known for the cool interiors of Jacobsen– where Bohlin covers floors, walls, and ceilings with Douglas fir, Jacobsen makes all the surfaces white — yet both excel at designing serene spaces with a limited palette of materials (a distinctly modern technique).

But aren’t modern homes stark and sterile, built from industrial materials? Dennis Wedlick says no. The widely-accepted definition of American Modernism is anything but – in fact, it dates back to the arts and crafts movement of the 1920s. For some reason the definition of Modernism has stalled in the minds of many Americans. Design the Good Home shows that homeowners should not have to choose between homes made with crazy shapes and juxtapositions of non-traditional materials and “traditional” homes from another era. Americans can choose to own a modern home that evokes a warm and time-honored feeling. The architects’ designs in Design the Good Home are just a few examples of how this new modernism is achieved.

Design the Good Home is broken up into five parts each dealing with an essential element in designing a good home with modern techniques.

PART I: Modern Techniques - This section explores the use of bold shapes, restrained palettes, grids of glass, exposed structures, and perfect light

PART II: Romantic Techniques - This section explores techniques such as blending structures into the landscape, controlling the approach to the home, manipulating circulation through the home, worshiping nature from within, the use of seductive materials

PART III: Evoking the Familiar - This section showcases modern homes that utilize traditional materials and echo the feelings of a familiar home

PART IV: Creating a Sense of Place - This section showcases homes that intensify the experience of getting to and moving through the house and property

PART V: Collaborating with the Land - This section showcases homes that have a reverence for the land and incorporate elements of the landscape into their designs

Design the Good Home is the natural follow-up to Dennis Wedlick’s, The Good Home(HarperDesign; 2003). In The Good Home Dennis Wedlick set out to establish a common language to explain how and why successful houses work. It helped create a way to express what troubles and delights us about the houses we live in and visit. Design the Good Home continues those admirable goals and adds a new purpose: to introduce us to a kinder, gentler Modernism we can all live with.

About the Author

Dennis Wedlick is an award-winning architect whose residential designs draw broadly from American precedent. He is influenced by the Shingle Style of McKim, Mead and White, the eclecticism of H.H. Richardson, and the modesty of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian house. His work has been widely published in The New York Times, Architectural Digest, Country Home and This Old House Magazine. He resides and practices in New York City.

Peter Bohlin is a principal in the Pennsylvania-based firm of Bohlin Cwynski Jackson whose residential work can found throughout the United States.

Hugh Newell Jacobson is a Washington, DC-based architect known for his classical modern houses. His projects have been featured in shelter magazines throughout the world.

Obie Bowman is a Northern California-based architect specializing in dwellings that are in close harmony with nature.

Design the Good Home Designs of Hugh Newell Jacobsen – Bohlin Cywinski Jackson – Obie G. Bowman By Dennis Wedlick HarperDesign; Hardcover; $50.00 February 2004 ISBN: 0-06-008943-1